§ Sir BOYD MERRIMAN
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, 1928, be presented to His Majesty for Royal Assent.Although I should have been glad if in this sacred matter the Church of England, in spite of differences stoutly fought and maintained in the Church Assembly, had been able to present this Measure for the acceptation of Parliament, unanimously, at the same time I am bound to admit that I do not regret this controversy, and I do not regret the rejection of the corresponding Measure in December, for three reasons: First, for the widespread and earnest interest which our discussions have evoked in the affairs of the Church; secondly, for the fact that the rejection in December last has been recognised and, indeed, has been described by one of the Bishops as an explosion of indignation on the part of the laity against the more lawless extravagancies of certain clergy, and the more notorious failures in certain quarters to restrain those extravagancies; and, thirdly, because, speaking as one who desires as ardently as any Member in this House to maintain the Protestant character of the Church of England, I am convinced that the Deposited Prayer Book does maintain that provision and that the Amendments made since December last make that more abundantly clear.
I am going to take the last two questions, discipline and doctrine, in detail later. I need only say in regard to the first reason, the interest which this matter has evoked, that nobody can fail to recognise, and to recognise with thankfulness, that our discussions in this House reflect the earnest desire of the people of this country to get at the truth in this matter and to decide the matter rightly. It is inevitable in a matter of this sort that there should be plain speaking, and it is inevitable that, for the moment, our differences should seem to be accentuated. I want to say that, 1004 so far as I am concerned, I shall have failed wholly in my purpose if—although I intend to speak perfectly plainly about opposing arguments which seem to me to be fallacious and wrong, and I expect people on the other side to exercise exactly the same liberty—there is left at the end of it any personal bitterness. I believe that when our immediate differences recede into their proper perspective, and when the Church is able to resume her work harmoniously and, as I hope, with an enriched liturgy, the widespread revival of interest in her affairs must be wholly to the good.
I want to deal, first, with the question of discipline, because I realise that the two things that matter, so far as the country generally is concerned, are the breakdown of discipline and the question of the underlying doctrine of the New Book. It must be admitted—I admit it freely—that there do exist lawless extravagancies within the Church of England. However, it is only fair to remind the House that the Royal Commission in 1906 said, what is true now as it was true then, that it was possible to give undue weight and undue prominence to those extravagancies, in proportion to the general body of loyal clergy faithfully doing their duty within the Church of England. Although it is true that in 1906 the Royal Commission specified 10 particularly flagrant sorts of practices which they recommended should be checked, and checked then and there, without waiting for any of the reforms which they recommended, I hope hon. Members will not assume that it is only in the diocese in which we are speaking that these practices go unchecked; because it is perfectly well known, to take another instance on the other side, that in, for example, the diocese of Norwich, the Bishop has found it difficult, in fact he has found himself unable, to suppress practices which are no less flagrant than some of those which prevail in London.
Here I must take exception at once to the suggestion that the Prayer Book is designed to legalise these illegalities; to legalise illegalities of the sort that are described in the Royal Commission's Report as those which should be promptly stopped. There is a par- 1005 titularly flagrant example of that sort of argument in a place where it should not be found, and that is on the cover of a book which has been published by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. I do not assume, of course, that the Home Secretary is responsible for what his publisher has put on the outside of the book, nor do I assume that the researches of hon. Members in this House in a book of that nature do not go beyond the cover, and I propose to show that my own researches have gone beyond the cover because the-re are other parts of that book which I propose to deal with. But, having regard to the fact that the phrase "legalising these illegalities" is a well-known phrase of the Home Secretary, it may well be that the careless reader might be misled by what appears on the cover. I am going to read the words to the House and to show here and now, if the House will bear with me, that a statement to that effect is absolutely false. The publisher says on the outside of the book—I am not reading the first part:In his judgment "—that is, the judgment of the author of the book—the revision which is actually proposed in the Deposited Book, as the new Prayer Book is called, though containing many excellent features, looks to the Middle Ages for its theological ideals. It would promote "—mark these words—the re-introduction of those Romish ceremonies and forms of devotion which the Royal Commission of 1906 said should he promptly made to cease, and it would establish a bar to that friendly co-operation and union between the Church of England and the great body of free Churchmen—I am going to deal with that later—to which the author looks us the best hope far the future of religion it England.It is not true to say that this book would legalise or promote the reintroduction of those 10 practices which the Royal Commission said should promptly be made to cease. The practices are set out on page 75 of the Report of the Royal Commission, and they are as follows:The interpolation of the prayers and ceremonies belonging to the Canon of the Mass.1006The use of the words, 'Behold the Lamb of God,' accompanied by an exhibition of the Consecrated Wafer or Bread.The reservation of the Sacrament under conditions which lead to its adoration.The Mass of the Pre-sanctified.Corpus Christi processions with the Sacrament.Benediction with the Sacrament.Celebration of the Holy Eucharist with the intention 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.Observance of the Festival of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Sacred Heart.The veneration of Images and Roods.There are 10 perfectly definite practices which the Royal Commission as their first conclusion recommend shall be immediately taken in hand and checked without waiting for their other recommendations to be given effect to. I say it is untrue that the Prayer Book promotes the reintroduction of any of these practices. The introduction of the use of the words, "Behold the Lamb of God," the use of hymns and prayers and devotions to ,he Virgin Mary, the observance of the Festival of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Veneration of Images and Roods, are not touched or dealt with in the Deposited Book at all. In so far as they were illegal before, they are illegal now. Their position has not been affected in any way by the Book. With regard to the other six, they are all expressly or impliedly forbidden under the New Book. The interpolation of prayer s and ceremonies belonging to the Canon of the Mass is expressly for bidden by the General Rubricks which appear on page 203 of the Deposited Book. It says:The Order here provided shall not be supplemented by additional prayers, save so far as is herein permitted; nor shall the private devotions of the Priest be such as to hinder, interrupt, or alter the course of the Service.You have there a direct prohibition which prevents the most insidious of all abuses which prevail at the moment; a man pretending to celebrate the English Holy Communion and really celebrating Mass. So far as the celebration of the Holy Eucharist with the intention that there should be no communicant except the celebrant is concerned, that is directly 1007 forbidden by the two Rubricks which follow on the same page:There shall be no celebration of the Lord's Supper, except there be a convenient number to communicate with the Priest according to his discretion.It is much to be wished that at every celebration of the Lord's Supper the worshippers present, not being reasonably hindered, will communicate with the Priest.As regards the other four; the Mass of the Pre-sanctified, Corpus Christi processions with the Sacrament, and the Benediction of the Sacrament, they are expressly forbidden by the Rubricks which deal with Reservation, and so also is the Reservation of the Sacrament under conditions which lead to its adoration. I am not going to read these now because I propose to deal with them in their proper place, under the question of Reservation, but the substance of the matter is that there is a direct order that no ceremony of any kind shall be used or permitted in connection with the Reservation of the Sacrament but that it shall be kept under lock and key and in such a place that it is not behind any table or altar.
Having put the House in possession of the facts about that, I say that it is not fair that a statement should be broadcast suggesting that those who are promoting this Prayer Book are designing to legalise illegalities of that sort. It was recognised in the 1906 Report that enforcement of discipline was extremely difficult because it was acknowledged that the Bishops were severely handicapped. To the enforcement of any law there are surely three obvious requisites. First, the law must be one which is respected and generally obeyed; secondly, you must have machinery for enforcing the law, and, thirdly, your punishments must be such as not to offend a sense of justice. It is said, "Oh you ought not to have brought in this Measure until you have brought in a provision which would enable you to mete out punishments which were more suitable to the needs of the case." Punishments were not the real difficulty. Again I must refer to my right hon. Friend's book. On page 59, he commits himself to this statement:Another difficulty was that the only penalty for contumacy was imprisonment. Had the punishment been deprivation, the matter would have been in a different position to-day. It is surely an intolerable 1008 state of affairs when a clergyman antagonises his congregation, defies his Bishop, and treats the law with contempt, and yet retains his living. In no other profession or walk of life would this be tolerated for a moment. A clergyman, just as much as a layman, should be compelled to relinquish his post when he no longer fulfils the conditions of his appointment.That is a clear implication that the Bishops were powerless to deal with this matter because their only powers were to get men sent to prison. The suggestion is that until you get that position rectified it is idle to come and ask for fresh powers. That is not so. It is not the fact that even under the existing law that is the position. There are two Acts of Parliament, the Church Discipline Act of 1840 and the Public Worship Regulation Act of 1874. In the former the first sentence is "Monition," that is a warning, disobedience of which amounts to an Ecclesiastical offence; and for any further offence committed after the monition there may be deprivation in the first instance, or deprivation preceded by suspension. Under the Public Worship Regulation Act the power of monition is the same followed by inhibition which forbids the performance of any clerical duties for three months and thereafter until a letter of obedience is signed and given to the Bishop; and if that is not given within three years, or if, on the other hand, there is necessity for a second inhibition, the forfeiture of the benefice follows.
Therefore, it is quite untrue to say that imprisonment is the only remedy. It is perfectly true that the Commission in 1906 recommended that the power to vacate a benefice should follow on the failure to obey a monition, and that the Bishop should have power to refuse to institute anyone unless he was satisfied of his willingness to obey the law. But the substance of the Report was not that the right punishments were not available. The substance of the Report is contained in this:First, the 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 her most devoted members, value, and modern thought and feeling are characterised by a care for ceremonial, a sense of dignity in worship, and an appreciation of the continuity of the Church which were not similarly felt at the time when the law took its present shape.1009 Secondly they say:The machinery for discipline has broken down.They recommend under that latter head, that the Church Courts should be reformed, should be brought more into line with modern ideas of the way in which Church discipline should be enforced. Then they recommend—that is the foundation of our being here—that Convocation should be called together to frame, with a view to their enactment by Parliament, such modifications in the existing law relating to the conduct of Divine service and to the ornaments and fittings of Churches as may tend to secure the greater elasticity which a reasonable recognition of the comprehensiveness of the Church of England and of its present needs seems to demand.
It is to give effect to that recommendation that the Enabling Act was passed. It is to give effect to that recommendation that we are here. There is already —I do not know whether it is in draft—on the Agenda Paper for the next Session of the Church Assembly a measure for giving effect to the other recommendation, the Reform of the Courts. But now it is said that when you have got your Book, when you have done all that to give effect to the recommendations of the Commission, will it be enforced? I can only say that in the Debate in the other House, on the first day, the Archbishop of Canterbury stated categorically that it would be enforced. I need not quote from that Debate, because to-day I have had from His Grace a letter which, with hon. Members' permission, I propose to read to the House. It is as follows:
§ "My Dear Solicitor-General,
§ I understand that you will be glad to have from me some fresh assurance as to the action of the Bishops in the event of the revised Prayer Book receiving legal sanction. I do not think I can do better than quote verbatim from a letter written by myself and published in the 'Times' on 31st October, 1927. My words were these:
§ I did not speak lightly when on 6th July I publicly used the words, "You may take it from me as absolutely certain that the Bishops will require obedience to the new rules and will do their utmost to secure it." I was sure at the time that I was speaking correctly, but I have now, in conjunction with the Archbishop of York, had an opportunity of meeting, or communicating with, all the diocesan Bishops of both provinces, 43 in number, and I am able to 1010 tell you that I have obtained the concurrence of every one of them (except the Bishop of Norwich, in reiterating the announcement I have referred to. It is obvious that the methods by which this clear and definite intention will be fulfilled cannot be specified in detail beforehand; but those whom you represent, and, indeed, all others interested in the matter, may rest assured that what is laid down in the new Book will, if the Measure receive the Royal Assent, he faithfully administered, and that the Bishops will act together in the matter.' "
§ Then he goes on:
§ "I have every reason to believe that the assurance then given by the Bishops holds good to-day."
§ He says further:
§ "Apart from the question of the Ecclesiastical Courts, on which the Assembly has before it a report of an important Commission, I myself attach more importance to the plans which the Bishops are now making for securing the concurrence and support of the clergy in bringing about a loyal and harmonious allegiance to the provisions of the new Measure and Book. Moreover, action on the part of the dioceses will, I believe, go far to overcome the opposition and objection which may be entertained by a few individual incumbents.
§ I am,
§ Yours very truly,
§ RANDALL CANTAIIR."
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Hon. Members will judge whether any man could give, after consultation with those for whom he is answering, a more explicit assurance than that. I invite hon. Members to consider the alternative if this Book is rejected. We really must ask ourselves these questions. What chance do hon. Members think there would be, if this Measure were thrown out, of restraining those perfectly loyal members, clergy of the Church of England, who have already, by tacit sanction in advance of the passing of this Book, adopted ceremonies which are permitted in the Book, and permitted with the knowledge that there is behind them an overwhelming majority of the Bishops of the Church and aril overwhelming majority of the clergy in Convocation, and the Church Assembly? What chance would any Bishops have of restraining anyone from lawlessness within those limits? That is a wholly undesirable position, but the other one is worse. How can the Bishops, if this Measure be rejected, possibly demand that those who are going beyond the proposed limits 1011 shall come within the limits? The recalcitrant clergy would tell the Bishop, and tell him truly, that he had no authority to put forward the limits prescribed by this Book, that it had been rejected by Parliament and that it had no sanction whatever. We know that that is simply to produce a state of utter chaos, and I would ask hon. Members who take the opposite view this question —because it, too, has got to be faced—Does the evangelical party think that it will be capable of supplying the existing shortage of clergy for a Church of whom it has been reported for 20 years that its law is too narrow, and for whom Parliament has refused to enlarge the law? Is that the way to get young men to come into the Church? No, Sir; I submit that, on the grounds of the restoration of discipline, there is an overwhelming case for the passing of this Measure.
§ I want to deal with the other aspects, and here I must admit we are on difficult and delicate ground. I hope the House will bear with me. I am contending that this Book maintains the Protestant character of the Church of England, and that the additions and the amendments which have been made since December last make that position abundantly clear. I am not overlooking that in a recent correspondence between my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and the Bishop of London this sort of dilemma was put: How can you say that there are any improvements in this book when, on the one hand, you get the Bishop of London saying that there is no alteration whatever in principle, that there is only an explanation of what was then meant rather than changes in doctrine, and, at the same time, you get the Archbishop of York saying much the same thing in other words? I will quote his exact words:
§ "None of the few amendments in the present Measure make any real change in the contents of the Book."
§ Let us see. Is there any inconsistency between those statements and what was said before? I submit there is none. In another place, in the concluding speech in the Debate on the third day, the Archbishop of York reiterated the words which the Archbishop of Canterbury bad used on the first day:
§ "Standing here, I assure your Lordships to-day that I am absolutely unconscious of 1012 any departure from the principles of the Reformed Church of England to which I declared my allegiance at my ordination 52 years ago, and which I have striven ever since to maintain."
§ Mr. ERNEST BROWN
On a point of Order. If the hon. and learned Gentleman is allowed to quote from speeches in another place will those on the other side be allowed equally to do so?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The Rule to which the hon. Member refers is one which must be administered with some common sense. Certainly the same latitude will be allowed to others.
§ Sir B. MERRIMAN
I am going to make no more quotations, but I wish to press my point. It is not only that the two Archbishops said that, but bishop after bishop has said over and over again that there was no change of doctrine intended by this Book. The Bishop of Chelmsford, who, as we know, is a definitely evangelical bishop, and is himself largely responsible for the composition of the Book, has asserted it over and over again. Therefore, it is true to say, and it would have been untrue not to say, that it was merely a case of alterations making doubly clear a meaning which was already intended, and, if hon. Members will bear with me. I will make the point clear with three illustrations, one of which goes to the heart of the matter. Hon. Members will remember the controversy which turned round the Black Rubric, as it is called, and, as this is really at the root of the whole matter, I will remind hon. Members of the exact wording of the Black Rubric. It will he found on page 217 of the Deposited Book. Ray I remind hon. Members, first of all, that the controversy with regard to this was, that whereas the Black Rubric is to be found in its place at the end of the old Communion Office, it was omitted, or rather not inserted, at the end of the alternative Communion Office, and it was said that there was some doctrinal significance to be attached to that. I well remember hearing in the Debate in another place the Master of the Rolls, who led the opposition, stating, on his authority as a Judge, that the fact that it was included in the one place and excluded in the other, must, as a matter of interpretation, have some significance, that it must lead to the implication that what was stated in the Black Rubric was intended to apply to one Office. and 1013 was not intended to apply to the other Office. I do not want to quote names, but it will be recollected that it was a point which was made over and over again. Let me remind hon. Members what the Black Rubric is:Whereas it is ordained in this Office for the Administration of the Lord's Supper, that the communicants should receive the same kneeling; (which order is well meant, for a signification of our humble and grateful acknowledgement of the benefits of Christ therein given to all worthy receivers, and for the avoiding of such profanation and disorder in the Holy Communion, as might otherwise ensue;) yet, lest the same kneeling should by any persons, either out of ignorance and infirmity, or out of malice and obstinacy, be misconstrued and depraved: It is hereby declared, That thereby no adoration is intended, or ought to be done, either unto the Sacramental Bread or Wine there bodily received, or unto any Corporal Presence of Christ's natural Flesh and Blood. For the 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.I have read those words, and I do not intend to read them again, but I shall have to call attention to one point in connection with them. But do not hon. Members see the significance of this? The bishops said repeatedly that there is no change of doctrine in the old Book by reason of the omission of that Black Rubric. That was not a rubric containing directions for the conduct of the service. It was a statement of doctrine, and if you have a statement of doctrine once put into the Book, you do not need it repeated. That was the argument. The argument on the other side I have put already to hon. Members. That rubric has been inserted at the end of the new Communion Office by the Amendment since December. The bishops are still entitled to say that there is no essential change by reason of that insertion. It only makes it plain that we meant what we always said we meant. But do hon. Members not see that the more emphatically it was maintained in December that there was some sinister meaning attaching to the omission of that rubric,, the more must it be acknowledged, now that it has been inserted at the end of the alternative Communion Office, that there cannot 1014 possibly be any implication of any change of doctrine? Our opponents in this matter cannot blow hot and cold.
I can pass lightly over two other illustrations of the same point to which it is just worth calling attention. One is in connection with the Prayers for the King. I am not going to spend many moments on that. If I may be permitted to say so, it is always a bad point. IL is notorious that nobody ever intended to omit the Prayers for the King. I was an inadvertence that was not perceived by either party until it was too late to put it right. But it was a bad point, because those who took the view that the Prayers for the King had been omitted, and that the Book ought not to be passed, were the very people who said, "The solution of this controversy is to give us all the uncontroversial parts of this Book and leave our; the Holy Communion, and then we will agree with you." It was in the uncontroversial parts, the Morning and Evening Prayers, that the omission had occurred. At any rate, everybody knows it was not intended to do any slight to the King by omitting those Prayers, and, for what it is worth, it has been put right now. Therefore, that is another instance in which it is true to say that we are making amendment which only makes it abundantly clear what we all meant all the time.
There is one other instance which is worth reciting. The bishops have already made it plain that what they hoped aril intended was that the clergy would continue to use both offices, that. the old Prayer Book would be used alongside the new. That was intended and hoped for. It has now been expressly laid down that that must be so. It appears actually in the Measure itself that he minister of the parish shall celebrate Holy Communion, according to the old order, at least one Sunday a month, where either of two things happen—where there is a parochial church council, which is an elected body, and it expresses the wish that the Communion shall be celebrated according to the old order, in which case there is no question of appeal to the Bishop or anything of that sort—it has got to happen. The other is where even if a church council does not so demand, a substantial number of people in the 1015 parish satisfy the Bishop, that it should be so. Here, again, is an instance where the promoters of the Measure said this is always what was intended. Now it has been made plain beyond any possibility of doubt.
I have now to deal with this problem of doctrine, and I hope hon. Members will forgive my temerity in doing so. It has been said before in this House, and I doubt not it will be said again, "How can you say there is no change of doctrine, whatever the Bishops say, when the form of the Consecration Prayer has been altered, when you are permitting Reservation, and when we know that the Archbishop of Canterbury wanted the report on the Malines conversations kept back until after the Prayer Book Debate?" Let me deal with the last point first, and get it out of the way. I can quite imagine that if the Archbishop had realised that there were people who would say that his wish to deal with one problem at a time was going to be used to prove that the Prayer Book could only be one step in the approach to Rome, he would have hesitated long before he made that request. I doubt very much whether the Archbishop really thought that people would suspect that he wanted to crown an honoured life with a cardinal's hat; but, apart from that, there is a complete answer to the suggestion that the promotion of the Prayer Book was a necessary step on the advance to Rome.
First of all, the conversations at Malines were in no sense of the word, and cannot possibly be said to have been, negotiations for reunion between our Church and the Church of Rome. If they had been, I do not think hon. Members will consider it likely that Lord Halifax would have been one of those detailed to represent the Church of England. What actually happened was that Lord Halifax had started personal and entirely informal conversations with Cardinal Mercier, and, at a certain stage of these conversations, the Archbishop of Canterbury was asked to take cognisance of what was going on. Hon. Members will remember that in 1920 the Archbishop had issued from Lambeth an appeal for Christian union all over the world. Was he to refuse to recognise the existence, even of the most informal con- 1016 versations which were going on between Members of our Church and the Church of Rome'? We pride ourselves on having produced a rather less arrogant prayer for Good Friday about Jews, Turks, infidels and heretics. Is the position to be this—that you can talk with anybody else about Christian reunion, but, on no account, are you to mention a word to Rome? I submit that when Rome had indicated that it was willing to recognise the existence of the conversations—for that was all it was—it would have been impossible for the Archbishop of Canterbury to have refused to give his cognisance. He asked Bishop Gore and another eminent theologian to join those who were already taking part in the informal conversations and charged them strictly, as he has stated in another place, to see that our doctrinal position was fully maintained. There is another consideration. If this Prayer Book was simply a first step on the advance to Rome, it has been singularly unsuccessful, because the two people who happen to belong to the extreme High Church party, out of the five who were taking part in these conversations, namely, Lord Halifax and the Bishop of Truro, have refused to accept the Book, so that really we have lost our labour if that is all we are trying to do.
But that is not all. In pursuance of the same intention to promote Christian union throughout the world the Archbishop detailed the very same Bishop Gore, and the Bishop of Gloucester, and the Bishop of Manchester, and other well known ecclesiastics, to attend a conference at Lausanne in 1927, not with Rome but with all the Protestant churches all over the world. I have seen the report of that conference and it is said that the amount of work which was done in clearing the way for re-union between the Protestant churches of the world—America, Scot-land, the Continent of Europe and elsewhere—was, to use the words of the reporters, nothing short of a miracle. I fail to observe anywhere in that report that any difficulty whatever was created by either of these two things —either by the fact that the conversations had happened at Malines, or by the fact that we were promoting this Prayer Book, which was then already published. No, Sir, that point will not do. It is a 1017 very good debating point, but that is not the sort of consideration on which these grave matters ought to be decided.
I am afraid I am occupying longer than I meant to occupy, but it would be wrong for one who is proposing this Measure not to attempt to grapple with the doctrinal matter, and I am going to try to do so now. The House, I hope, will realise that I am not attempting to lecture hon. Members on theology. I say at once that I am wholly unequipped for the purpose. I am simply going to state my own view of the matter, deliberately arrived at after as much reading as I can do, and after consulting those whom I thought. could advise me best. Let us first of all clear our minds as to what it is we are afraid of. What is this upsetting of the Reformation which we are supposed to be effecting by this Book? Of course, the one word "Transubstantiation" leaps to the mind at once. Let us try to clear our minds as to what this Transubstantiation was of which the reformers got rid. I had better put it in my own way as I understand it. To me it means that the priest as it were by magic, recreated the very Body of Christ which he then and there sacrificed by re-crucifying it on the Cross. In other words, he reperformed the very sacrifice of the crucifixion on the very Body of Christ. Of course, it is utterly impossible to maintain that doctrine within the Church of England; but the Church of England, without defining how or when it happens, recognises perfectly plainly, first, that there is a Real Presence of the Body and Blood in the consecrated elements which, in turn, to use the words of the Catechism areverily and indeed taken and received by the faithful,and it recognises, secondly, that the rite of Communion is a commemoration of the sacrifice on the Cross. It negatives the one doctrine; it compels nobody and dictates to nobody how they are to believe in the other.
I am not going to weary hon. Members by citations from authorities. The curious will find these things are laid down plainly in Cranmer's and Ridley's writings, in the Catechism, in the Black Rubric, and, finally, there is a considered weighing up of these matters in an elaborate considered judgment of the Privy Council in the case of Bennett in, 1018 I think, the year 1871. I said I would refrain horn referring back to the Black Rubric. It is only one point given effect to in the declaration of the British reformers but, of course the point is this, that when the Black Rubric was first inserted in 1552 the words then used were:the real and essential Presence there being of Christ' natural Flesh and Blood.When the Rubric was re-inserted in our present Prayer Book in 1662 the words "real and essential Presence" were struck on; and the words which I have already read:corporal Presence of Christ's natural Flesh and Bloodwere substituted. That was one point, and only one point. It was held it was quite plain that the reformers intended to mark the difference between the two. Side by side with what I have attempted to express as my idea of the doctrine of the Church of England, there is the perfectly legitimate conception that the Church of 13lngland is all the time a member of the Holy Catholic Church—not the Roman Catholic Church, but the Catholic Church. We say so over and over again in our public prayers in the Church, and side by sit e, as I have said, with this question of doctrine there is also, all the time, a perfectly legitimate desire to use all that is permissible in the traditions 1 liturgy of the Catholic Church. It is for that reason that there is this movement back towards some of the older forms of liturgy. That being so, I want hon. Members to consider with me for a moment wt at is said about the Consecration Prayer. It is said that the words,Hear us O Merciful Father, we most humbly beseech Thee …and these Thy Gifts of Bread and Wine, that they may be unto us the Body and Blood of Thy Son, our Sal four, Jesus Christ, to the end that we, receiving the same, may be strengthened and refreshed both in body and soul.are a reversal of the doctrine of the Reformation. In my submission it is utterly impossible to maintain that. The words, it is true, without the words "we, receiving the same," are the same words as were in Cranmer's first English Prayer Book. But surely it is false history to spend time, as my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary does, for pages and 1019 pages of his book, in proving that the Reformation only began with the second Prayer Book. We all appreciate the differences between the one Prayer Book and the other, but it is impossible to maintain that the Reformation only began when Cranmer's second Prayer Book came into existence. If there is one thing more than another which the plain man thinks about the Reformation it is this—that the real cardinal thing which happened in the Reformation was that, for the first time, the people of this country were allowed to have Communion in their own language, which was first permitted by Cranmer's first Prayer Book in 1549, and, secondly, by the declaration that "the Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this Realm." I am going to begin to be scared about "the slide back to Rome" when I see a desire to celebrate Holy Communion in Latin, and the cancellation of that particular Article. In addition to that, I must refer to one other passage in the Home Secretary's book. It is not in the text of the book, but in his considered recommendations to the Ecclesiastical Commission for the rejection of this Prayer Book. He makes this statement on page 177:The re-insertion into the Consecration Prayer of the words 'And although we be unworthy … to offer unto Thee any sacrifice, yet we beseech Thee to accept this our bounden duty and service;' The Reformers rejected the doctrine that the priest offers the sacrifice of Christ's Body and Blood and, therefore, removed from the Prayer Book all expressions which taught the presence of Christ in the consecrated elements and all expressions which implied the offering of them as a sacrifice.It is amazing to me that it should be suggested that those words had been abolished by the Reformers or that the insertion of them in the Consecration Prayer is the suggestion of something which was never held before. Surely hon. Members recognise that the whole of the last 10 or 12 lines of the Consecration Prayer, in which those words occur, are imported wholesale, word for word, from the first alternative prayer which occurs immediately after the administration in the present office; and it passes my comprehension to understand how it can possibly be argued that it is wholly Protestant and right to say immediately after you have celebrated, that you have 1020 offered yourself and so forth as a sacrifice, and wholly Romish and wrong to say it two minutes earlier. I submit to the House that it is impossible to argue that the Consecration Prayer effects any change of doctrine; and I will only say this, that when our Archbishops Temple and Maclagan in 1897 answered the Pope, who was trying to say that Anglican Orders were invalid, they answered him in terms which almost followed, and most certainly carried the same implication as, the words in this new Consecration Prayer. Hon. Members can find the passage for themselves in the Bishop of Gloucester's little book, which he has, I think, circularised to all of us, in a little paper preface which occurs at the beginning of that book.
The only other matter—and I am going to deal with it very shortly—is the question of Reservation. I want to say at once that, the law being as it is, Reservation is technically illegal, but at the very time when it was declared to be illegal, it was stated that there was nothing doctrinally wrong about it. The authority on the question is the Archbishops' ruling at Lambeth in 1900—Archbishop Temple and Archbishop Maclagan, neither of whom, I think, will be accused of trying to sell the fort to Rome. Archbishop Temple expressly said that though, as a matter of history, Reservation had been a practice going right back to the early fathers and recognised by the Church for centuries. Yet since, under Article 34, the Church of England had inherent power to alter any of its ceremonies and, therefore, had power to alter the ceremony for the communion of the sick, it must be taken that the words at the end of Article 28—with which we are all perfectly familiar, the words about carrying about, lifting up, or worshipping, which, of course, were directed, in the first instance, against the practice of worshipping the Reserved Sacrament—must be taken to have been intended to abolish Reservation for the purpose of the communion of the sick, which was permitted in Cranmer's first Book of 1549. But he went on to say that there was nothing doctrinally wrong in the practice itself. It was simply a question of what was forbidden or permitted as a matter of administration.
What is wrong, of course, is, as we all acknowledge, that the practice of 1021 Reservation should be used as the vehicle for illegal abuses, or for the adoption of services which are not permitted, and which imply doctrines which are not permitted, in the Church of England. It follows, Article 34 still being in. the Prayer Book, that we have power to restore the practice of Reservation if we choose to do so, providing always that we make proper safeguards against its abuse, and I want to call the attention of hon. Members to this: Article 28, which forbids Reservation, makes no distinction whatever between the two sorts of Reservation. It does not say, "You may have occasional Reservation, but you may not have perpetual Reservation." Reservation is absolutely forbidden. It is not a case that you may reserve for two hours, but that you may not reserve for 24 hours, that you may carry for 100 yards, but that you may not carry for two miles; the prohibition is absolute or it is nothing.
I would say to those who stand strictly upon Article 28 that, if they say to me, "I hold with the rubric which says that a. man shall communicate three times in a year, of which Easter shall be one; I do not hold with these frequent communions and, therefore, I will have no Reservation at all," I suggest to them that that seems to me to be just a little bit ungenerous and unsympathetic. Is the argument this, that although it is perfectly well known that many other people prefer more frequent communion and that the sick in any case will have to be communicated at Easter under the rubric, because frequency of communication in the opinion of the speaker cheapens Holy Communion, therefore reservation is to be forbidden, and the clergyman is to be compelled to celebrate 10, 15, 20, or 30 times a week? The clergyman in these matters has to be considered. There is just as much output of spiritual energy on the part of the clergyman in celebrating as there is on the part of the recipient in receiving. And I will add this too, that those who stand strictly upon Article 28 are flying straight in the face of the experience which was gained during the War.
Do hon. Members realise that those padrés—four of the best of whom have written a letter in the "Times" to-day, which, I hope, every hon. Member will read, to whom the Army owed so much 1022 and to whom the Church is looking for leadership in the future—that those men, never having practised Reservation before, reserved the Sacrament which was consecrated in the battery headquarters or the battalion headquarters, that they carried the Reserved Sacrament under their gas masks into the front line trenches or the gun pits, and there administered it, not only to men who were sick, but to men who were in graver peril than any of those who were in hospital? Do hon. Members think those men are going really to give up practices which have such sacred associations for them, and of which they have realised the spiritual benefit, not merely to themselves, in the saving of the output of spiritual energy, but to the recipient, inasmuch as he is able to feel that he is partaking of the very Supper of which his brethren in the Church have been partaking instead of some private celebration of his own?
No, you are not going to persuade those men of it. nor are you going to persuade those who, while these were doing their duty at the front, were doing their duty at home, and who, under conditions which involved and demanded increased administration of the Sacrament coupled with a diminution of the clergy, found themselves driven by sheer necessity to adopt these practices, which had never occurred to them before, but which, as I say, they have since found beneficial. My hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General most generously recognises this in a letter which he wrote to the "Times." He recognises that there is a claim—and I honour him for saying it—for that sort of Reservation, but do not hon. 3Eembers see this, that when you once get to the point that you are prepared to permit Reservation of any sort or kind whatever, you have then got past Article 28, and it becomes purely a question of what safeguards you are prepared to have?
On the question of safeguards, we are prepared to meet you. We have met you. I submit to anybody—and I am not going to take up time by reading them, because hon. Members have read them over and over again—that the safeguards which are put in the rubrics against the abuse of Reservation in such cases, and in such eases only, of emergency where Perpetual Reservation is allowed, are more than ample to secure that there is no 1023 abuse, no illegality such as exposition, benediction, and the like which it may be thought may be likely to flow from Reservation; and I submit to anybody reading those rubrics set out in the Schedule to the new Measure that it is impossible, unless they are wilfully blind, to say that they do not provide ample safeguards.
What do we hope to gain by this? In three words—Comprehensiveness, toleration, loyalty. And, Sir, are those three things less worth gaining if they are gained at the expense of another Christian virtue, a little sacrifice of our own preferences and predilections? Do let us remember that we are not legislating only for ourselves. I have had a cablegram from the Archbishop of Perth, in Western Australia, who was Chaplain-General of the Australian Forces, saying that they are only waiting for the passing of this Measure to adopt the Prayer Book themselves. We are not only legislating for this generation. When a man appeals to me and asks me why we are tampering with that which we learned at our mother's knee, it is an appeal which I hear with sympathy. But our own daughters, granddaughters, and great-granddaughters in turn will have to teach their children at their knee, and is not there some pride for us in the thought that, with the sacred lesson, those children will also learn that it was from us, their own kith and kin, here and now, that they got the Book from which they learn?
§ Sir SAMUEL ROBERTS
May I open my remarks with the closing remarks of the learned Solicitor-General, when he said that we are not legislating for ourselves alone? When he asked us to exercise the virtue of sacrifice, and spoke of toleration and good will, is it right for us to indulge in that luxury if we feel that in doing so we are guilty of a breach of trust? Acting for ourselves alone? No, we are acting as trustees. We are here in the lifetime of the Church for a comparatively short time—we are here, and we are gone—but during the time that we are here, and at the present moment, we have within our hands the power to put an indelible mark, that I say is an entire change, upon the character of the Church, the Church handed down to us for the last 300 years 1024 by Protestant ancestors. We maintain that we have an absolute duty to hand down the same undefiled to those who come afterwards.
The learned Solictor-General made such a speech as we should expect from him; it was a speech of reasoned argument, of tolerance, and of a high tone such as was found in the Debate last year, a tone which, I trust, will be maintained to-day; in particular, I trust that I may not by any words of mine lower the tone or the dignity of the discussion. I ask the indulgence of the House, because it is a difficult matter to address the House on a subject of this kind, for one knows that on occasions such as this, as on practically no other occasion, the decision of the House will be largely taken on what is said in this Debate. Therefore, I fear all the more, not for the justice of my cause, but that anything I may say or do may jeopardise the case which I have so much at heart. It is customary before a Private Bill is dealt with upstairs that opponents of that Bill should prove locus. I will not take up time by explanations of my locus, except to say that I have been a member of the National Assembly since its formation; I have been a member of a ruridecanal conference, the Diocesan Conference, and the House of Laity when this Book has been discussed from the very beginning; and from that beginning until to-day I have consistently opposed such parts of it as are controversial. That is my excuse for addressing the House this afternoon.
The supporters of this Measure are very fond of telling us of the chaos that will ensue if this House again rejects the Book. May I state what will be—I will not use the word "chaos"—but the difficulties and troubles that one foresees will occur if this Book passes. In the first place, you will definitely set up within one Church two separate standards; if you do not like the phrase two different doctrines, I will say two different standards of doctrine. Everyone within that Church will, therefore, have to he labelled, and will be labelled, as one who believes or uses the new Service or the old. This matter will arise in very large numbers of parish meetings, because it has to be put in one way or another to the parish councils. You are taking to a great many parishes 1025 not peace, but discord. Every time an incumbent is appointed, the same thing will arise again, the same question whether he is willing to take one Book or the other, or whether he will use both. There is another argument which seems to me to be stronger than any other. The Solicitor-General said something about the young men. What about the young men of definitely evangelical views who are thinking of entering the ministry to-day? What about these men, when they have two Books put in front of them, and they are asked to assent to the doctrines in both—because that is what it really comes to. That is one very great difficulty for the young men who are coming forward. Another difficulty will be that they will find that it is one type, the new Book men, who will shine in the light of episcopal blessing, while the others will not. Is it not likely to be a great deterrent to any man of evangelical views from joining the Church of England? That means that in the course of years, and not so many years, the Church will cease to have as its members men of the evangelical type, and those who have been seeking for the last 60 years to change our Church will attain their object.
It has been said, again, that the rejection of this Measure will immediately lead to the cry of disestablishment. I remember that the Noble Lord, the Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer), immediately after the House had rejected the Measure last December, rushed into print in the "Times" with the cry for a free Church in a free State. That, to my mind, is an immediate cry for disestablishment. But are we going to save the Establishment by passing this Measure? I do not think that we are. I should like to put forward a proposition that the Church cannot long remain an established Church, if its doctrines and ceremonies are out of harmony with the mass of the people. By that, I do not mean that the majority of the people must be members of that Church, but that the general tone and tendency of that Church must he in harmony with the people. Let me give an example. Imagine that in Scotland it was the Episcopal Church of Scotland that was established. Will any Scottish Member suggest that it would have been the Established Church 1026 of Scotland to-day? No, because it is out of harmony with the mass of the people of Scotland. If the Church of England gets farther away from the earnest desires of the people—it is a matter of race, the Nordic people being inclined to the more protestant views and ideal—and gets out of harmony with our race, ultimately it does not seem to me that it will save the Establishment. Is not there a possibility that some astute politician may, seeing this division, raise the cry or disestablishment? If that is raised, the defenders of the Church, if this Book be passed, will lose a great many stalwarts whom they would otherwise have had. I received a letter this morning from a constituent, in which he says:If the Measure should pass by the House of Commons vote, and a demand by the electorate at the next General Election be made for the disestablishment and dis-endowment of the Church, I, as a lifetime member of that Church, would certainly vote for ant- candidate who wits in favour of it.I do not know the identity of the writer at all. I come to my next point, that do not thing: that this is going to produce order. I want to read a document. I expect most Members have read it, hut I must read it again, because to my mind it is one of the most significant documents that have appeared in the last few days, a document signed by Lord Shaftesbury (President of the English Church Union), Dr. Darwel! Stone (Chairman of the Federation of Catholic Priests), Bishop Chandler (President of the Anglo-Catholic Congress), and another. It is as follows:In view of the grave unsettlement of mind which l as been caused by recent discussions of Eucharistic doctrines, we, the undersigned priests of the Provinces of Canterbury and York, declare our belief as follows:That has been signed by 2,000 priests.
- (1) We believe that in the Holy Eucharist the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ by virtue of the Prayer of Consecration, and that therefore He Himself is truly present under these outward forms.
- (2) We believe that the Body and Blood of our Lord thus truly present are offered to the Father as a sacrifice; that this sacrifice is one with the Sacrifice of the Cross; and chat it is the continual commemoration of our Lord's Death and Resurrection, and the continual application of His merits.
- (3) We believe that our Lord Jesus Christ being therefore truly and! par-
1027 sonally present in the Consecrated Sacrament is therein to be adored; and that inward and outward acts of adoration are due to Him in the Liturgy after the Consecration.
- (4) We believe also that our Lord is no less present in the Sacrament when reserved; and therefore is therein always to be adored with like acts of adoration."
§ Sir S. ROBERTS
If there are 2,000 priests who believe that, can they believe it, dare they believe it, obeying the rubrics and restrictions that are contained in this Book? How can the Bishops prosecute and deal with 2,000 priests who have signed their names to that document? They have behind them the most powerful Anglo-Catholic body in England, the English Church Union, and I for one cannot possibly believe that, in a position of that sort, it will be possible to obtain order even under the restrictions that are set out in this Bock. With regard to the dangers which I see will come if this Book is passed, I firmly believe that it will put beyond the eye of mortal man any chance of reunion with the great Nonconformist Churches. It has been said, in the many letters which we have received, that this is not a matter on which Parliament ought to express an opinion, that, although they have a technical right to do so, it is really a spiritual matter which we have delegated entirely to the Church Assembly, and with which we should refrain from dealing. I must quote from a Debate in the House of Lords on the 10th July, 1919, on the Committee stage of the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act. Lord Willoughby de Broke moved an Amendment:That no Measure shall be submitted to the Ecclesiastical Committee which would make any alteration in the Book of Common Prayer as by law prescribed to he used in Churches at the passing of this Act.Then the Archbishop of Canterbury replied:I should be deceiving the House if ware to accept for a moment the proposition that we do not intend in any case to touch anything connected with the Rubrics of Common Prayer. One of the very reasons why we find the present position so difficult that in small natters, but matters which are nevertheless of practical impor- 1028 tance, we want to facilitate sometimes an abbreviation, sometimes an adaptation of the existing form to slightly different circumstances, sometimes even the addition of extra Collects on particular occasions, such as the Noble Lord has taken exception to. It is with the object of doing those things legally, instead of illegally, and being relieved from the responsibility of having done things for which the law gives us no sanction at present, and for which we could not get sanction on without an elaborate process of going to Parliament that we want to use—though we certainly use them most sparingly—I be powers which this Bill would give us of altering where the need requires, some things in the Rubrics of the Prayer Book.These were the sort of things that were mentioned and contemplated when Lord Willoughby de Broke moved his Amendment. Viscount Chaplin definitely asked:What I want to ascertain from the promoters of the Bill is whether it would be necessary, as the Bill now stands, for the permission of Parliament to be obtained in any circumstances before anything of that kind is done?THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY: Yes.VISCOUNT CHAPLIN: If that is so, I think it is quite satisfactory.It appears to me that to bring in such questions as legalising vestments, the Consecration Prayer and Reservation is rather stretching the words of the Archbishop when he said:…Sometimes adaptation of the existing form to slightly different circumstances, sometimes even the addition of extra Collects on particular occasions.5.0 p.m.
It has been said that the Church people are in favour of this Book. It is very difficult to set off one's own personal opinion against a definite statement of that sort. I can only say that since this Book was rejected I have knocked up against all manner of people, and I have found that its rejection was extraordinarily popular with the majority of Church people with whom I have talked. When we consider the figures which were obtained in the diocesan conferences and in the Church Assembly, one ought to realise something about those bodies and about the atmosphere in which they work. We have to remember that this is all based upon a parish roll, parochial church councils and diocesan conferences. Those are new organisations which were set up only about eight years ago. The 1029 parish rolls are very incomplete. In some cases, the parochial church councils have not even been set up. The method by which the parochial church councils elect their representatives to the diocesan conferences is not what one would call a keenly-contested method. In most cases, the matter rests very much in the hands of the vicar of the parish. He has made up his mind whom he would like to go. He suggests that Mr. So and So should go, that Mr. So and So would be a suitable person to go to the diocesan conference. It, is in that way that the diocesan conferences are elected, and they elect the Church Assembly. I make no complaint against the method of election from the members of the diocesan conferences, but it is a very complicated process and a very uncertain process before we get to the diocesan conferences.
I have been to one of these conferences, and I know the atmosphere. You have the Bishop, highly respected and very much loved, in the chair, and he makes a long speech in favour of the Book. Then another set speaker is brought in, probably the noble lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil), who makes one of his inimitable speeches, which are the delight of the people in the conference. After having heard all that, an opponent or two, uninvited, unasked, gets up to set out the case against the Book. The people are swayed, as far as I can make out, by two or three things. They do not want to lose the work of 20 years, and many vote for the Book who do not like it out of a sense of toleration towards others and of affection towards the Bishop himself. Although it is quite impossible to prove it, I believe if you could take a. vote of the people on the question, "Do you like these changes, or do you not?" the vote would show overwhelmingly that they do not want it. The question has been, "Take this book or leave it—the whole Book and nothing but the Book," and that has had a very great effect in making the majorities as large as they are.
§ Sir S. ROBERTS
I think it quite clearly is the case, all the way through in the diocesan conferences and in the Church Assembly. When the matter has 1030 been put to the vote it has been, "The Book, the whole Book, and nothing but the Book." It has been said, "Why should you Evangelicals object to it, knowing things are as bad as they are? If it does not pass, things will be worse, and the very practices which you most object to will continue. There will be no order, and you as Evangelicals will certainly not be better off." I would give one answer which appeals to me, although it may not appeal to many of my hon. Friends. If they get the Service which can he got wider this Book, the full Service of Choral Communion, I do not see why they should want more than that—with vestments, wafers, lights, acolytes, processions and genuflexions. I am rather doubtful whether incense or sounding gongs will be prohibited. But when you can get all those legally under the Book, I myself do not mind what else comes in, because I and my friends can certainly not go there. It is as if a man were dead; he does not then very much mind whether he has three feet of earth or nine feet of earth on the top of him. With regard to that one point, "legal." It is said things will be worse without the Book, or not better. 1s is one thing to stand aside or to sit peacefully while these things are going on, but it is an entirely different thing to be an assenting party to them.
I do not want to deal at very great length with the matter with which the learned Solicitor-General has already dealt, namely, the changes which have been made in this Book since it was last before us. I think if it had been any other Measure that had been discussed in this House and was brought before us again six months after its rejection, what the Members of this House would consider would be only "What changes are there in this Bill as compared with the one we rejected last time?" Those would have been the only things which Members of the House would have felt it to be within their dignity to consider; but out of respect and courtesy to the Church Assembly and to the Church itself, which has sent this Measure up, we are being asked to give practically a re-trial to the whole case; because, as the Archbishop himself has said:There is no alteration whatever in principle between the Book as amended and the Deposited Book. The changes made are of 1031 the nature of explanations of what was meant rather than any changes in doctrine or practice.That means that the Book has been changed to meet ignorant, simple-minded, emotional and easily deceived Members of this House! In Clause 2 (1) it is provided that the Minister of a parish shall inform the Councilbefore bringing into ordinary use any of these orders or forms of service authorised under this Measure.On the face of it that looks as if it might be a very helpful change, but I would ask the House to note the phrase "ordinary use," because already we have had definite episcopal hints that ordinary use does not mean experimental use, that you can experiment on your parish without previously informing them that you are going to experiment. If I may put a particular case, I take it to mean that if a man is going to wear a chasuble he will come in wearing that chasuble before he has informed his congregation, so that they may judge what it is like when they see it. It does not mean that the parish is going to have any say in the Service. Some of the Anglo-Catholics were very indignant at certain statements and wrote to the Bishop of St. Albans; they read it that parishioners were going to have some say in the Service they were going to have. Oh, no, that could not be allowed. That entirely upsets the Bishop, and he replies:I submit that the rubrick means nothing of the kind. Merely to inform the parochial church council does not mean that the minister must first ask their consent.Then they are going to put in further safeguards with regard to perpetual Reservation. The Bishop's licence is to be granted in special cases. We know that at the present moment there are a large number of cases where Bishops' licences are granted. I cannot imagine that the Bishop will withdraw those licences, and I cannot imagine that in fairness the Bishops could refuse licences where the cases were exactly similar to those in which licences are now granted, and as they are granted for innumerable reasons, I believe, other than its being necessary in the case of hospitals, it will be very difficult indeed for the Bishops to refuse to grant licences in cases similar to those in which they have granted them 1032 already. I do not personally put any value whatever on these safeguards, and when you read again the statement. I read just now of the 2,200 priests that Adoration was due to the Reserved Sacrament, then believing them, as I do, to be absolutely conscientious and honest men in their belief, they cannot refrain from adoring it, whatever safeguards the Bishops may insert.
There is one change in the rubrics to which I personally take strong exception. The House of the Laity asked that a new rubric should be put in with regard to making a declaration with regard to fasting Communion. What I imagine the House of the Laity had in their minds was that it would be a declaration such as this, that it is equally the custom of the Church to receive Communion fasting or non-fasting; but what the Bishops have put forward is a rubric stating:It is an ancient and laudible custom of the Church to receive this Holy Sacrament fasting. Yet for the avoidance of all scruple it is hereby declared that such preparation may be used or not used, according to every man's conscience in the sight of God.What does that mean? That means that fasting Communion is to be the rule, only it allows conscientious objectors to depart from it. My objection to that is that I believe the vast bulk of the people of this country in the old days used to take their Communion after mid-day Service. It was the usual custom in the days before the War when I first remember going to the churches in this country. That was the general custom, and it is that custom which our fathers and grandfathers faithfully carried out. But we are now told this was wrong, and that they were guilty of a breach of an ancient and laudable custom. Another thing about it is that this new rubric is going to make it very much easier for the clergyman to have his non-communicating choral communion or Mass as the main service of the day. When the Solicitor-General read that rubric about communicants not being hindered, the reference was to the people who were not fasting, and there are very few people who will be fasting at that time of day. They get round the rubric in that way and enable this choral non-communicating service, which is so often called the Mass, 1033 to take place in our churches. In spite of all those things, the Archbishop says that they are making no change. I wish to quote now from the Archbishop of Wales, whose letter in the "Times" of yesterday was of very great significance and should he read by everyone. The Archbishop of Wales said:The doctrinal changes in the new Book still, therefore, constitute the real issue before the representatives of the people of this country.—that is what we are, according to the Archbishop of Wales, and I think a large majority of the House really feels we are back again at the main issues which were discussed on the 15th December last.
Then there is another important matter on which I must touch shortly, although I assure the House I do not want to take up too much time of the House. I am not going to deal with such small questions as changes in the calendar, the introduction of the Festival of Corpus Christi, with the Epistle and Gospel and Collect taken direct from the Roman Missal, and with the Prayers for the Dead, nor will I deal at length with the Consecration Prayer, which has been referred to by the Solicitor-General, except once again to quote to the House the words of Father Woodlock, of the Society of Jesus. He stated:These changes are radical, and they seem to me to make the new office a definite approach to the Catholic Mass.
§ Sir S. ROBERTS
I have not got anything further. Father Lattery says:Taken merely in itself, this form appears to be sufficient for a valid Mass.If it is sufficient for a valid Mass, there is no need for the inaudibility which the hon. and learned Gentleman spoke about. Inaudibility was because things were said to make it a valid Mass. Now they have got to the valid Mass without inaudibility. When I am told that the present form is really more Protestant and Evangelical than the old, it makes me rub my eyes with wonder. I wonder whatever it is put in for, or whom it is put in to please. We know perfectly well that it is there to satisfy a large section of the Anglo-Catholics. If it is there to 1034 satisfy them, how can it possibly be more Protestant and Evangelical than that which we had before? I would prefer the verdict of the Jesuit Fathers and the acceptance of those two sections of prayer by Bishop Gore and the Bishop of Truro than tits very learned treatise that the Noble Lady the Member for Kinross and Western (Duchess of Atholl) was good enough to send to the Members of this House. I want to say a word about vestments. I know that some of my hon. Friends who agree with me put no force upon the question of vestments, and they seem to 'link that garments do not matter. I cannot help thinking that in our civilisation, as we know it, any official use of garments does mean something, because they are indicative of some form of office or authority that the person wearing them would not otherwise possess. When we come to the chasuble, I have looked this up in the Envyclopædia Britannica, and I find the following description of it:A Liturgical vestment of the Catholic Church. It is the outward garment of Bishops and Priests at the elevation of the Mass, for) ling with the Alb the most essential part of the Eucharistic vestment.Since it is only used at the Mass or rarely for functions intimately connected with the Sacrament of the Altar, it may he regarded as the Mass vestment par excellence.I am not so ignorant as not to know that in one or two of the Lutheran Churches the chasuble is worn, but it is worn at all services, and it is even worn at the Evening Service. If I asked the promoters of the Prayer Book why they put in the use of the chasuble, not one would answer that it is used in the Lutheran Church in Sweden. Their answer is that they want to wear the garment of the sacrificial priest, because they believe that they themselves are sacrificial priests. With regard to the Reservation, I was glad to hear in the speech of the Solicitor-General that he definitely admitted that Reservation was contrary to the last sentence in Article 28. That has frequently been denied. It is said that it was not a prohibition. but merely a statement of fact. If it was only a. statement of fact, why should it have been put in at all? We do net insert mere statements of fact. The Solicitor-General has not made that point, and I will not make it, but I say that when you take the Consecration Prayer, when you take Reservation and 1035 when you take the chasuble, you cannot get away from it that the Book clearly indicates a belief in the Real Presence, localised, capable of being set aside, capable of being kept confined in a receptacle made by the hand of man, and of being brought forth again at the will of man, and given as a viaticum to the dying. If that is the only interpretation I can make of it, I say with all the earnestness I can that that is not the Protestant religion.
No one in this Debate has ever attempted to answer the dilemma put by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon), because it is a dilemma that cannot be answered. I will paraphrase it. He said that these changes are either great or small: they are either important or unimportant. If they are unimportant and small, why trouble the Church. why trouble us all and upset our consciences by something that is not great and not important: but if they are great and important, then their greatness and importance lies in the distance they take us away from Reformation doctrines. If hon. Members still think these points of difference are small, and merely matters of interpretations of a common belief and liturgical distinctions of a minor character, I would ask them solemnly to consider why it is that this controversy, which has been going on for so many months, has stirred the people of this country more than any other that I can remember; and it has stirred this House more than anything has stirred it since I have been a Member of it, or within the memory of those who have been Members for many years longer. Why is there this intensity of feeling? It is because there is something in it that probes right into the inner senses of mankind, and from there obtains an answer from the ages. Surely it can only be because in reality the conflict in which we are now engaged is the same conflict that has gone on in all times and in all religions since the day when, as one writer said:Man emerged from the primeval forest. Dud first gazed up towards the sun.It is neither more nor less than the claim of the priest to interpose his office between man and his Maker: it is an instinctive claim, a sub-conscious claim, and one that particularly manifests itself in the reverence given to material things 1036 touched by the hand of the priest in ceremonial and sacrifice. It is against these claims that the temperament that we call Protestant has always been at war; it is against these claims that the Protestant in one religion or another has been fighting all the time since the world began, and it is the instinct within us, descending down to us from those who strove with and suffered under both Druid and Inquisitor, that impels us to shrink from taking any backward step on that path which would lead us from that spiritual freedom which we have bought at so great a price.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I would like to pay a tribute to the sincerity and the moderation of the hon. Baronet the Member for Hereford (Sir S. Roberts). At the commencement of his speech the hon. Baronet said that he hoped to maintain the high tone of the Debate which had been set by the Solicitor-General, and I think he has done so. I hope the hon. Baronet will also understand that those who take a different view are equally sincere, and view these matters as deeply as he does. In the Debate in December last no Anglican Member from these benches took part in the Debate, and I should not be speaking on this occasion but for the fact that my hon. Friend the Member for South Leeds (Mr. Charleton) has had to go away on party business. I want to put certain points of view which, I think, should be put, and which I address particularly to those of my hon. Friends who have remained in the House. The Members of the Labour party form the greatest proportion of those who abstained from voting on this question last December, and, consequently, it is in their hands that the fate of this Measure rests.
I know that a large number of my hon. Friends thought it was not their duty to vote last December, and they still hold the same opinion, but I ask them to consider certain arguments which I am going to put forward. The hon. Baronet the Member for Hereford said that we were the trustees for future generations in this matter, and I entirely agree with him. I also consider that we are the trustees for religious liberty and religious tolerance. I am going to answer the question which was put to the House by the right hon. Gentleman the Member 1037 for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) on the last occasion when we discussed this subject. The right hon. Gentleman asked if the changes made in the Prayer Book of 1927 with the additional changes referred to by the Solicitor-General are, compared with the Prayer Book of 300 years ago, great changes or small changes. My answer is that they are both, and it depends entirely on the point of view you take. If you think all the time of the outward form of religion, if you are prepared to damn a man because he prefers his clergyman to wear the chasuble, if you would rather your clergyman would engage in some pagan pursuits, and if you prefer to be ministered to by a priest wearing vestments, then they are great changes. On the other hand, if you keep your eye on the ultimate goal of all great religions, including the religion of those who belong to another section of the Church, and who labour for the good of their fellow-men, then these changes are small. Taking this view of the matter, there is no reason why hon. Members of this House, half of whom do not hear these discussions, should reject the Deposited Book, with the changes which it contains.
I would ask the Attorney-General when he winds up the Debate, if he will do me the honour of replying to this question. We have heard a good deal about the 2,200 Anglo-Catholic priests. How is it proposed to deal with them? How do those who lead the Church Assembly, how do the bishops in the minority and the clergy and the laity propose to deal with those 2,000 Anglo Catholic priests? How do they propose to deal with those priests who are not Anglo-Catholic but who are broad Churchmen who believe in the Reservation of the Sacrament which has been the centre of this great controversy? How do they propose to deal with the kind of letter which I will read to the House? This is a letter from a friend of mine in Devonshire. He is a gentleman who has spent most of his time in South Africa working as a clergyman in the mining camps, and there the Reservation of the Sacrament is almost universal. He is single-handed, he has no curate because he cannot afford one. He thinks it is better to spend the money on a motor car to enable him to 1038 get about the country. This is what he writes about his present practice:This particular parish is the second largest in point of size (over 18,000 acres) in this diocese, with 60 miles of road in the parish for the parish priest to negotiate, and two churches, the work of which has to be tackled single-handed by one priest. This week—Easter week—I have been out taking Easter Communions to the aged and sick, The whole of the mornings for half the week has been taken up in this way, going from one house to another, and at tithes ranging from 10.30 a.m. to 2,30 p.m., and I have a good many miles of ground to cover to get round. I use the Reserved Sacrament, I cannot do otherwise: It is, apart from any other reason, a physical impossibility for a priest to take a separate. Communion service with consecration at each house. I have written at length because this is a typical North Devon country parish, a though larger than most. My people he] e. welcome and prefer the idea of receiving Communion from the Reserved Sacrament.I admit that there are dangers, and, if had only my own personal predilections to consider, I should be against any reservation, but I have to think of men like this and those whom they comfort. The letter goes on:It makes them feel they are one with those who are well enough to receive at the early morning celebration in Church, it emphasises the corporate aspect of Church life, whereas the practice of consecrating afresh in?very house, and thus making a number of distinct and separate communions, cads to an individualist rather than a corporate conception.What, may I ask, do the Attorney-General and his friends, lay and clerical, propose to do for hard-working country clergy like this? Are they to be deprived of their livings, or imprisoned? What is he going to do for them, and for their congregations who receive comfort by this means? This is the Reservation for the Sick, which is allowed by the Deposited Book, and it is the only reservation that is allowed. I should like to hare an answer to that question. I have expressed myself publicly as being opposed to reservation, just as I have expressed myself publicly in the past as being opposed to Mass vestments; but at the same time I realise that this Church of England is not only a Protestant Church, but is a Catholic Church as well as a Protestant Church, and the Church of England has to open her arms to receive as many of her brethren and priests as are prepared, 1039 if I may use such an expression, to play the game by the bishops, and have accepted this compromise. For the sake of that peace which I believe will be brought into the Church, perhaps with difficulty, perhaps with friction, perhaps with pain, for the sake of that ultimate peace, so that the Church can get on with her work—social as well as religious work—I think the compromise is justified, and I am prepared to make it.
Now I must refer to one quotation which was made by the hon. Baronet the Member for Hereford, and I hope that some of my hon. Friends who are going to speak later in the Debate will provide themselves with the missing words from Father Woodlock's declaration. His declaration has been made great use of by the Evangelical opposition to this Book, and I interrupted the hon. Baronet to ask him if he would read the rest of the quotation. He only quoted a few sentences torn from their context. I have not the words either, but I do not intend to quote them. I have, however, read them, and in the very next sentence Father Woodlock goes on to explain that the same words are capable of a Calvinistic interpretation. I know that the hon. Baronet, if he had had the words, would have read them, and would not wish to make any unfair use of them.
§ Sir S. ROBERTS
May I say that I took the quotation from the letter of the Archbishop of Wales in the "Times" of yesterday?
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
I know that the hon. Baronet is too fair a controversialist to have torn words from their context willingly and used them in that way, but I hope that one of my hon. Friends who will speak later will read the concluding words of that sentence, which are very important, and put an entirely different aspect on the quotation made by the hon. Baronet from Father Woodlock. I would ask those who voted against the Book last year, are they in no way satisfied with what they have gained? The Solicitor-General said that he quoted the words of the Archbishop and others that there are no great doctrinal changes, but the new rubrics, the replaced rubrics in the Alternative Service, and the other rules that have been laid down, do put such emphasis on the Protestant side that 1040 they have driven into opposition the Bishop of Truro and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South-East Leeds (Sir H. Slesser), who spoke in favour of the Book and voted for it last year, but who, I understand, is now going to vote against it. Are the hon. Gentlemen who gave that fatal vote last year ever to be satisfied? My right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood)—I am sorry that these matters divide us temporarily—says that the Reformation satisfies them; but the present Book, which was the outcome of the Reformation, is not being adhered to at the present time. What does my right hon. Friend propose to do to make the priests of the Church adhere to it?
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
He says, not to provoke them; but how does he know that the Archbishops and the Bishops are not going to keep their word by refusing perferment to those who do not, as I said a few moments ago, play the game in this matter? My right hon. Friend has no right to sit here on this bench and impute bad faith to men, some of whom are members of our party, simply because they happen to be bishops.
My friends who opposed the Book last year have had many safeguards. Some of these have been referred to by the Solicitor-General, and I will not go over the ground again, but one which he did not mention, and which I think is very important, is the right of appeal which parishioners will have against their bishop should they think that he is unfairly licensing reservation and other practices to which they object. They have that right of appeal to the Archbishop and Bishops of the Province, and that is a very important right. Those who voted against the Book on sincere Protestant grounds last year gained a great deal, and they should seriously consider whether they should not be satisfied and forbear to sacrifice, or risk the sacrifice of, those gains.
It was an anti-democratic argument that was used by the hon. Baronet the Member for Hereford. We are told that the Church rolls are incomplete, that only a few active members attend the parochial councils, that the Assembly is not representative, that the Bishops have too 1041 much power, and all the rest of it. Exactly those arguments are used, if not by the hon. Baronet, by his friends, against all the workings of trade unions in this country. Exactly the same thing is said in almost those words—that the ordinary man who is a member of a trade union does not attend his lodge or branch meetings, that a small, active minority gets the reins of power, that the great trade union officials have too much power in the general meetings of the trade unions. My hon. Friends on these benches who are members of trade unions recognise that only too well. The same criticism can be made against any kind of democratic organisation, even against this House. It can be said that a few active politicians in each constituency get more than their share of power because of their active interest in the politics of their party, and you hear again and again of a little caucus, a committee of selection, which selects someone, without consulting the great mass of the voters, to represent them in Parliament. These arguments are used when democracy does not suit. Then democracy is a kind of god such as was used, in the primeval jungles to which the hon. Baronet referred, by his primitive ancestor. When the god behaves, sacrifices are paid to him; when the god does not behave—when the rain comes down at the wrong time and spoils the crops—the god is chastised. That is the way in which democracy is treated by the hon. Baronet and his friends when it does not suit them.
This House, in the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act, gave to the Church of England certain powers over the Church's spiritual concerns, and it is not for us, especially on a second occasion, to throw back the result pf 20 years of labour and prayer by those responsible for the Church, especially after our own Ecclesiastical Committee, the Labour representative on which was a prominent Nonconformist and layman, my hon. Friend the Member for North Camberwell (Mr. Ammon), for the second time, after the fullest investigation, has decided that the constitutional rights of the subject would not be adversely affected by this Deposited Book. I say that, after that, this House would be doing a wise thing to allow the Church the same liberty that is enjoyed by 1042 members of dissenting bodies like the Nonconformist Churches or the Free Churches. I particularly want to appeal to my hon. Friends on other grounds, quite different from those of which we are likely to hear very often in this Debate. I think it is very desirable, for many reasons, that this controversy should be removed from our party politics. It will not be so removed by the rejection of this Book. The Home Secretary threatens us with his own private Book, which some private committee of his, no doubt as eminent as himself and as sincere as himself, proposes to prepare, which I presume they will attempt to get through the Assembly, and which will then be presented to Parliament. If the Book be rejected to-morrow, it will only be the beginning of a long controversy, which will run right across our domestic politics. I would hesitate to use this argument at all, because it might be said that it is lowering the tone of the Debate of last December, but I will quote from the Suffragan Bishop of Bristol, and I would draw the attention of the Attorney-General to these words:I do hope that you may use your influence among Labour Members of Parliament on the ground that there are many of us in the Church who look forward with dread to having to give our time and attention to a long religious controversy, with its disturbing effect amongst Christians generally, rather than being able to make a real sustained effort to rouse people to the question of their duty in regard to social conditions.Then he goes on to quote examples of where h has been hampered in his present-day work by having to explain this question. There is a movement in the Church at the present time, which I think we who sit on these benches should welcome, for the paying of greater attention to what are generally called social matters.
There is a movement in the Church of England—my own Church—towards the people and the problems of injustice and poverty. The Church can do a great work once this controversy is removed, and when I hear the hon. Baronet the Member for Hereford, with great sincerity and fervour, complaining of the chasuble and of reservation, I wonder that we do not hear his voice more often with the same fervour and the same 1043 sincerity, which I am sure he feels, in the discussion of the great material problems of poverty and injustice amongst the mass of the people of this country. To show how devastating these matters can be, I understand that my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley (Mr. Rosslyn Mitchell) is going to take part in this discussion, as he did last December. I would remind my hon. Friends that he is so engaged in his work for the poor that he is seldom able to come and assist us in the rough-and-tumble of politics on the Floor of this House. When the Trade Unions Bill was under discussion, or when our great financial problems are being debated, my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley, with his great rhetorical powers and his great forensic abilities and legal knowledge, would be invaluable to us, but his work for the poor of Scotland prevents him from coming here: but so sincerely does he feel on this question that last December he found it necessary to come here, and I understand that he is going to wind up this Debate to-night.
I realise that there are those in my party who declare that their politics are their religion. There are others who go much further than the hon. Baronet the Member for Hereford, and who want in their religion only simple Bible teaching and the simplest form of worship. There are others who can continue with the present revised Prayer Book. There are those, again, who find that in their work and in their worship they are aided by certain enrichments and certain ornaments. I would put this to hon. Members who object to the enrichment of our Church services and who talk about the retreat to Rome. They feel that they are strong enough to walk upright with their simple faith. Just as they would not refuse a crutch or an aid to a cripple, so they have no right to refuse these richer aids to weaker spirits who find comfort from them. If that can be done without injuring the constitution of the country, and without in any way injuring the Protestant position of the Church—and that, I believe, is the case—why should we deny the right of reserving the Sacrament to the sick, and why should we even deny the wearing of vestments? These matters are great or small according to the way you look at them.
1044 I must refer to a letter that appeared in the Press to-day over the signature of the hon. Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Thurtle). I gave him notice that I was going to raise the matter and I am sorry he is not here, just as I am sorry that on all matters outside the official Labour party programme he and I seem to be in disagreement. Writing in the "Daily Herald" of to-day, my hon. Friend declares that he intends to vote against the Book because he believes it will bring about disestablishment and disendowment of the Church. I have for many years declared myself in favour of the disestablishment of the Church on spiritual grounds, but if hon. Members wish to work for disestablishment they should do it openly, and this should not be taken as an opportunity to work for disestablishment. I prefer a letter that appeared on the back page of the "Times" signed by another leading Non-conformist. Sir Henry Lunn, who, supported by two ex-Presidents of the Free Church Council, by three ex-Presidents of the Wesleyan Methodist Conference and by other great divines, pleads with Parliament, in a letter, which I commend to hon. Members who have not made up their minds in the matter to pass this Book. It is the Free Churches, one might suppose, that have something to gain by the disestablishment and dis-endowment of the Church of England. I prefer the opinion of Sir Henry Lunn and those leading Nonconformist divines who are supporting those of us who are in favour of the Deposited Book to the opinions of the hon. Member for Shore-ditch, and I hope I shall find Members who agree with me.
I hope I have said nothing that will give offence in any way to the hon. Baronet who preceded me, or to others who feel like him. If we lose the day to-morrow it will be a real tragedy, and the tragedy will not be a triumph of evil over good, because good men can go on striving against evil. The tragedy will be the contest of opinion and doctrine between two sets of men, leaders in the Church, amongst the clergy and the laity, who do not see eye to eye. The Home Secretary is leading a body of Members whose sincerity and fervour I do not question. I would put this to him, that the danger to-day is not a danger of wrong worship or error in doctrine, or even of these illegalities, some 1045 of them serious, which in a few churches are practised, and of which the right hon. Gentleman made such play last December, and has made so much in his book. The danger is of no worship, of materialism and of paganism. We are living in an age when men are drifting away from all religion. That is the danger, and those who are opposed to any form of faith or religion must rejoice at this controversy in which we find ranged on one side the Home Secretary and on the other the Solicitor-General. That is the tragedy. We play into the hands, not of the forces of good but of the forces of evil, by driving this wedge into the Church, by rejecting the Book when, after these 20 years of labour and prayer, this compromise has been reached which it is hoped—we can only hope in these matters—will close the gap.
My last word is that the Church of England in past ages has been responsible for persecutions, it has been guilty of intolerance, and 100 years ago we lost a great and irreplaceable body of Free Churchmen whom we drove out by over insistence on the letter of the law. We are now in danger of losing, I believe, as valuable and as irreplaceable a body of fervent, devout, ardent Christians who desire the compromise that this Book contains. There is another danger in the Church. It is not the danger of over-fervour. It is the danger 'of indifference, of habit and routine, of lack of sincerity, and we have the same danger in our political faiths. We all know it. I in my party feel strongly that we should be very tolerant of certain of our brethren who in their ardour and their fervour do not see eye to eye with us on certain political doctrines. So in the Church to-day we must show tolerance to all men who, because of their faith and their ardour, perhaps, are rather uncomfortable. The times are too serious to lose any good soldiers of Christianity who are prepared to accept this compromise and to play the game, and whose Bishops are prepared to answer for them. The times are too serious to drive these men out of the Church.
The Home Secretary and his evangelical friends may be quite content to produce another Prayer Book, knowing that this controversy will have to pursue a religious vendetta against those with whom they do not see eye to eye. The 1046 Home Secretary can accuse Bishops of not disciplining their clergy. May I, remind him of the retort of the Bishop of London to him in that lively correspondence they had? He cannot make all his colleagues in his own Cabinet see eye to eye with him. A weak man would resign. The Home Secretary remains, and works and strives, and presently he makes progress. He is a great Puritan in lay politics. I support him. In office, he is restrained by his colleagues who take a. more liberal view an these matters. If I were in office, I should be restrained by liberal-minded. colleagues like my right hon. Friend. But it is not for the Home Secretary or myself to twit the Bishops with not disciplining these men, who, by their very faith and fervour, are prepared to make sacrifices and many of them to welcome martyrdom. No one knows better than the Home Secretary that it is not always wise to make martyrs, either in spiritual or in materialistic matters. I hope, therefore, hon. Members when they vote to-morrow, especially Members on these benches, will remember that in theory, at any rate, however much we differ in practice, we are all aiming at the same goal and a little tolerance and a little-charity are always helpful.
§ Mr. HAYES
I do not propose to follow my hon. and gallant Friend in his references to one or two Members of my party, except to say that in his reference to the hen. Member for Paisley (Mr. B. Mitchell). the whole House will have a very grateful memory of the magnificent speech he delivered on this weighty subject last December, and I am sure he will ably answer for himself at a later stage in the Debate. It will be equally interesting for us—I know my hon. and. gallant Friend will accept this in the friendly spirit which always exists between us—to know whether at any time, am perhaps within recent times, he has ever indicated his intention to vote against any Measure that included Reservation. If he did, one finds it difficult to accustom oneself to his attack upon the hon. and learned Gentleman who moved the rejection.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I thought my hon. Friend was here when I was speaking. I think I dealt with that matter. I explained my personal. 1047 position, but I am not taking a personal stand in the matter.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. HAYES
I am sorry if I did not hear my hon. and gallant Friend on that point. I am certain he has a very excellent explanation. I rise to take part in this Debate with considerable reserve. It is not a simple subject for a layman to speak upon. If I may express it in a phrase that is not unknown in the service of which I was once a member, this is not the kind of thing that is on my beat. Nevertheless, I cannot divest myself of a certain representative responsibility for the vote I am called upon to give. I have taken considerable pains to ascertain the general opinions, not only of those who reside in my own constituency but of people in that Mersey-side area which cannot be, and I am sure would not be desired to be, ignored by any section of the House. During the last 12 months I have endeavoured to improve my knowledge of the opinion in the country by making inquiries further afield than the Mersey-side, and I feel convinced in my own mind that the decision of the House of Commons last December did not in any shape or form overstate the position or the feeling that exists in the country. As a matter of fact, I am satisfied that what the House of Commons did last December has found warm endorsement in the hearts and minds of many people who, perhaps, had not given too much thought to religious questions before. There is the general view, of which we all know, from the official side of the Church, the Bishops and the clergy, the Church Assemblies. We have heard of the view of the man-in-the-pew.
If I mar be permitted to-night, I desire to put what, I think, is the view of the man-in-the-street, and who, in my opinion, will certainly, if this Book becomes law, find himself definitely in the street, and he will resist whatever inclination there may be left to him to attend worship. He will probably resist that inclination and remain in the street for all time. I say that because I have in the course of discussions with men who would not generally be regarded as religious characters, found that while they have certain deeply-rooted religious beliefs and convictions, they seem to have 1048 drifted away from places of worship because, as I am often told, of the practices that obtain there. While under the new proposals there may be some kind of remedy at hand for the person or persons who may desire to take an active and energetic part in resisting certain practices, it is my personal opinion that the great mass of the people who want the Church to remain as it is, or at least without the present practices to which they object, will not avail themselves of the opportunities that we are told will exist in so far as the alternative Prayer Book is concerned. To-night we are discussing a Measure in respect of which we have the assurance again and again of the Bishops that there is no change in any essential respect from the Measure that was before the House last December. I have read, and I have listened to, criticisms and judgments that have been delivered upon the decision of the House of Commons since last December. Let me say at once that I have neither been impressed by the subject matter that has been put forward as an answer to the House of Commons last December nor by the manner or presentation of it.
We are asked to believe that within six months of the decision of the House of Commons that. hero is a Measure represented to the House in which we are told there is no change in any essential respect, and that the House of Commons is now to do sorrt4hing which it refused to do six months ago. Six months ago the atmosphere of the House of Commons was supposed to be of such a character that the House could not arrive at a sound judgment. I hone it will not he allowed to go by without challenge. The high standard of debate, the judgment and reasoning of its Members, were not based upon flamboyant speeches or feeling that had been engendered by partisan speeches, but arose out of an atmosphere which should make the nation proud of its House of Commons. I cannot conceive that the House will accept the reintroduction of the Measure as an indication that the House of Commons six months ago did not have the judgment which it is supposed to have now. Indeed, it is almost, I suggest, equivalent to saying to the House, "While we have made certain concessions to an alarmed—an unduly alarmed—House of Commons last 1049 December, we have made such concessions that they really do not interfere with the Book and fundamentally the Book is the same as it was then." As a matter of fact, we accept that. We do not suggest that there has been any deception by the Bishops then or now. We say it is perfectly clear that those who were opposed to this Book know what it is that the Book proposes to do.
While I do not propose, for, indeed, I would not he able to do so, to enter into any of the theological subtleties of a debate of this kind or of the Measure, I do propose to say just what I think the man-in-the-street feels about the whole thing. Last December we were supposed not to be able to see what the Book actually meant. We are told that the Book after alteration may now be said to contain just what is the exact position. I find that there is no change of opinion unless it he a change in the opposite direction. There is an intensification of the feeling. After last December a general spirit—I do not say this of myself only—of thanksgiving seemed to be abroad amongst those people who believed that the fundamental principles of the national Church were being challenged by the introduction of the new Prayer Book Measure. I should like to express just what I mean by the man-in-the-street, apart from what I have already said. When walking through the City, one of the divisions of which I have the honour to represent, I was surprised—I admit it quite frankly—to find that the interest in the Prayer Book Measure was so widespread. Tramcar drivers—and I hope this will not be written down against them either in so far as their municipal duties are concerned or otherwise—even tramcar drivers when seeing their Member[Interruption]—yes, and, as my hon. Friend says, policemen—have actually halted their cars, and all that they have desired to say to him has been, "I am very glad indeed that you cast your vote against the Book, and I earnestly hope," or words to that effect, "that you will do so on a further occasion." One found that kind of thing being expressed by dockers, transport workers, and by all sections of the community; and I did not confine my inquiries to the working-class section of the City. I made inquiries of business people and 1050 Free Church people as well, and I cannot find anything but wholehearted opposition to the new Measure. They do not accept any statement to the effect that this Prayer Book is not moving in. a direction that they do not desire.
Let me examine for a moment what I mean by my representative capacity, because it is important, I think, to those Member; who hitherto have abstained from voting because they feel that they have no personal interest in this matter. I do not propose to make any confession of faith, except to say that, even if I had a personal opinion in favour of this Book, I should not think of voting for this Book if I had satisfied myself that those whom I represent in this House who were interested in the Book were actually opposed to it. I put it to those of my friends who may feel that though they are not interested in the Book from the religious angle, nevertheless they have a, representative duty to perform to those who sent them here. The law of the land compels the to cast my vote one way or the other, or to give consideration by virtue of my membership of this House. I feel that I should be taking refuge in a coward's castle if I did not cast my vote one way Dr the other. Therefore, in consulting opinion in my division I find that it consists mainly of Roman Catholics and My Roman Catholic Protestarts. My friends, with a tolerance I have always admired, have indicated to me that they have no interest in the matter whether this Book passes or not. While it may be argued by those who want the new Book' that there is, therefore, no fear of moving in a certain direction, I think that such an argument is no answer, for the simple reason that it would appear as if in the Church of England there is a desire to adopt practices which, if they desired to adopt them they should adopt them outside the established Church. I find that the other section of my electors are positively opposed to the new Prayer Book Measure, and their view generally is that there is some alien element being introduced into the Church which they are satisfied in their minds is something which must be resisted. They believe that a principle is at stake and they ask that that principle shall be preserved by the House of Commons itself.
1051 We have heard a great deal with regard to the influence that has been brought to bear on one side or the other. I make no complaint that anyone should have endeavoured to put an opposite point of view from that which I may have, or that anyone should have endeavoured to influence me in my decision. I am perfectly certain that every hon. Member will believe me when I say that I have no desire to criticise the Leader of the House, the Prime Minister, for, apart from any party question, the House has deep regard and respect for the Prime Minister. I hope that in what I am going to say, although coming from this side of the House, it will not be felt that I am endeavouring to make any party capital at all out of it. I say, with the greatest- respect, that as Prime Minister, he should have kept himself entirely outside the question as to whether this Book should be adopted or rejected. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] He should keep outside the question as Prime Minister. He has a perfect right—and no one will be more ready to say that he should exercise that right—as the right hon. Member for the Bewdley Division to put his point of view. [Interruption.] I am merely stating that I only hope the Prime Minister will state his position as the right hon. Member for the Bewdley Division, and not as the Leader of the House of Commons. I think I have not said it unfairly. If I have said it unfairly, I will withdraw anything that may have offended the susceptibilities of anyone. I do say that, following the course of Debate, no one can gainsay the effect of a speech of great moment delivered at the close of a Debate upon Members who abstained on the last occasion and who may think that there is here an indication of some kind of pressure that is being brought to bear on them to vote in favour of the Book.
I have received a complaint that the Church Assemblies, excellent as they may be, have not secured the democratic opinion—I think that must be generally accepted—of those people who are interested in the Measure. I have also been informed that the Synods that have been convened from time to time in the last few years have exercised an undue influence upon the opinions of the clergy. I understand that when these Synods are 1052 convened, every clerical member of the diocese is invited, in fact commanded to attend, but in the course of the discussions that take place there is, I understand, no question of a decision being arrived at that will be binding upon the Bishop but, rather, when the Bishop calls them together for consultation he indicates, as has been done in certain cases, that whatever decision they may arrive at, there is only one vote that will matter as far as the final decision is concerned. It has been put to me that the influence that has been at work has disturbed a very large number of clergy who have not been so active against the Book as they would like to have been. One can only hope that if there has been any question, or if there is to be any question of victimisation, those who have taken the opposite view will not suffer, or, to put it another way, we ought not to pay too much attention to the opinions that may have been obtained as a result of some pressure of that kind.
I have had the further point put to me that there was general regret that the Malines Conference Conversations were not published until after the Debate last December, and it has been urged upon me that two very significant facts emerged. One fact is that there is general amazement on the part of many members of the Church of England at the discovery of how much the representatives of the Church of England in those Conversations were prepared to surrender. Secondly, they were amazed to learn that the publication was held up at the request of the Archbishop and they feel—this has been referred to by the Solicitor-General—that the holding up of that report indicated that frankness was not part of the policy of the supporters of the Book at that time. There is an opinion abroad that episcopal desires and opinions should weigh against the layman. It may easily be argued that we should give way to such high ecclesiastical authority as the Archbishops and the Bishops, but I am clearly convinced that neither the venerable Archbishop of Canterbury nor his Bishops would prefer to have this Book if it is to be at the sacrifice of the convictions which enshrine the hearts of the great mass of the people who have made the national and established Church of this country possible. I hope that those hon. Mem- 1053 bers who have refrained hitherto from voting will consider the points that have been raised in the course of the two days' Debate, and vote accordingly. Much as I regret any pain that may ensue upon those who so devoutly want the Book, I feel that I have no alternative but to go into the Lobby and to record my opposition to the Book once again.
§ Major BIRCHALL
In supporting the Motion in favour of the Prayer Book, I desire to reply to some of the remarks made by the hon. Member for Hereford (Sir S. Roberts). He alluded to that deplorable document which was issued by the combined Anglo-Catholic Societies and appeared in the Press at the end of last week. I can assure him that we who support this Book regard that document as quite as deplorable as he does. I would remind him that that document, in which very strong Anglo-Catholic opinions are expressed, had been published during the present regime and cannot be dealt with under the present regime. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"], That is my private opinion. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] I can only say that if that document were issued under the new regime, if and when the new Book becomes law, I think there would be means of dealing with the authors of the document.
My hon. Friend also referred to the power of the priests. He thinks that the new Book will enhance the power of the priest against the laity. I believe exactly the opposite. I believe that the Book gives power to the laity which they do not possess to-day, and if it did not do so I would not support it. With regard to the remarks of the hon. Member for the Edge Hill Division of Liverpool (Mr. Hayes), I hope he did not really mean to use a word which has an unhappy meaning, namely, the word "intimidation." I can assure him, from very considerable knowledge of the action of the Bishops of this country, that I do not believe it would be possible to find a single case in which a bishop has endeavoured, or would endeavour, to intimidate either a parson or a layman in connection with this Book. I have attended many of the representative meetings, and whenever I have been present there has been the utmost leniency possible shown towards those who opposed the Book. Unless some 1054 very strong and definite case of intimidation can be put before the House, I think it is hardly in consonance with the traditions which we seek to uphold in this Chamber, to suggest the unhappy word "intimidation" in connection with the action of the Bishops. We will let it pass, and hope that it was not intended to have any serious meaning.
§ Mr. HAYES
I am glad that the hon. and gallant Member has raised the point. I did not put it in any vicious sense. I probably used an unhappy word. I do not want to give the examples that have been given to me. I do not think it is anything more than the enthusiasm for a cause which sometimes does produce a certain atmosphere without being intentional.
§ Major BIRCHALL
The main point of difference between the supporters and opponenss of the Book is on the doctrinal question but I do not desire to enter into details on that subject. I would only ask the House, especially those hon. Member. who were not present to hear the opening speech of the Solicitor-General, to compare the considered arguments of the Solicitor-General on the subject of the doctrinal change, where he gave chapter and verse on a very difficult and complicated matter in support of his opinion that there is no doctrinal change, with the statement made by the hon. Member for Hereford, in which there was hardly ally considered argument on that point at all, and which he dismissed summarily. The principal supporter whom he called in aid of his argument was a Jesuit priest of the name of Woodlock. He prefers the opinion of a Roman priest to that of his own Archbishop of Canterbury.
Many hon. Members may be in some difficulty, when they hear so much on both sides, in knowing who is right and who is wrong. May I suggest to them that if they have difficulty in coining to a decision they should consider by whom the opinions are expressed on either side, and vote in favour of those who express the weightier opinions on the matter? If they are incapable of deciding of their own knowledge and information, they should consider what are the qualifications of those who are supporting or opposing the Measure, and decide accordingly. It is perfectly obvious that the 1055 main suporters of the Measure are the Archbishops and the Bishops. I should like to say something about the somewhat unpopular subject of the Bishops of the Church of England, because I think there is very great misconception as to who they are and what are their functions. In the first place, of the 43 Bishops, 36 are supporting the Book. I should like to say something with regard to the 36. Let the House remember that these men are not appointed to their positions by the members of the Church of England. They are by no means appointed by the Anglo-Catholic part of the Church. They are appointed by the Prime Minister, and in almost every case I think the appointment has been thoroughly deserved, and has met with the approval of the members of the Church of England.
Who are these men who have been appointed by the Prime Minister of the day? Since the Prayer Book controversy became acute, there have been 14 appointments of Bishops by the present Prime Minister and the late Prime Minister. Out of these 14 appointments, 13 of the Bishops are supporting the Book, and only one is opposing it. These men have been appointed since the Prayer Book controversy arose, and their opinions should carry special weight on this particular matter. I need not refer to the qualifications of the Archbishops. They are both Scotsmen, if that can be considered an advantage. In some quarters, at any rate, it may be regarded as an advantage. They are men of the highest character. Five or six of the Bishops are men whose scholarship and writings are famous not only in this country but throughout the world, men like the Bishops of Chichester, Manchester, Oxford, Gloucester, and Carlisle. These men have made their mark as scholars of great repute and as authorities in Church matters. Other Bishops supporting the Measure have been at the head of great public schools, while one made his mark in business before he became a Bishop. There are four of the Bishops who, in past years, have been leaders of evangelical thought in this country, and have been regarded as out-and-out evangelicals until the Prayer 1056 Book controversy arose. Men like the Bishop of Ripon, Dr. Warman, the Bishop of Chelmsford, Dr. Bardsley, the Bishop of Leicester, and Dr. Stanton-Jones, the Bishop of Sodor and Man.
The Bishops are men of great repute, and they have from 150 to 600 parishes under their control. They are appointed by the Prime Minister of the day, and are men whose opinions should, quite properly, carry weight. I do not mean to. say that if the Bishops suggested something which is contrary to the consciences of Churchmen on important matters that we should accept their suggestions for one moment, but I do submit that the character, the quality, and the weight of the Bishops in connection with this matter should weigh with those hon. Members who find difficulty in making up their minds. They are an evangelical body; there is only one Bishop out of 43 who is a member of the Anglo-Catholic party. Surely we may rely on their advice and opinion that there is no change of doctrine, nothing contrary to the Reformation. I prefer their opinions to that of Father Woodlock or to those half-dozen Bishops who are not of the same opinion. I submit that the weight of evidence is entirely in favour of saying that there is no substantial change in this Book in the doctrines of the Church of England.
The other suggestion is that we poor laymen are being priest ridden, that we have no opportunity of expressing our opinions. I beg leave to differ. In my opinion the position of the laity has been considerably improved. Under the Enabling Act which was passed about eight years ago the laity were given greater powers in connection with the work of the Church. There was one exception, and that was that they were given no voice whatever in connection with the services in the Church. Many of us protested strongly at the time: we thought that we should have been given some voice in connection with the services of the Church. To my mind few things are more deplorable than the case in which a man is sent to a parish and introduces practices entirely on his own account without any reference to the desires of the parishioners. This has, in my opinion, turned more men against this Measure than any 1057 other one thing, and I regret that we were given no powers under the Enabling Act in connection with church services.
But under the new Deposited Book the powers of the laity are admitted and extended in three different ways. In the first place, we have the definite statement in the Measure itself that it is desirable that any changes should only be made with the consent of the people of the village as represented in the Parochial Church Council. That is something; hon. Members will recognise that the autocratic powers of a priest are curtailed to some extent. It is not the expression of a pious opinion because no parson will be able to introduce changes into the services of the church without mentioning the matter to the Parochial Church Council. Hon. Members who are opposing the Bill may say that that is no good, because the parish church council will not be able to stop the changes. It will do this amount of good at any rate, that the parishioners will know what is going to happen and can report the matter to the Bishop, who will he able to make inquiries into it. That is a very valuable concession and one which I believe will do very much good for the church.
In the second place, where the Parochial Church Council, or a sufficient number of people, desire it the Service of 1662, that is the Holy Communion Service is to be provided at least once a month. There are a number of parishes which desire a service out of the old Book. They can have it. To-day they cannot. The Measure in this respect is an extension of the powers and rights of the laity of the Church of England. Then in the ease in which the Bishop, grants a licence for the Reserved Sacrament if the local Council objects to it it has the right of appeal to the Archbishop and Bishops of the Province, so that where a. Bishop grants a licence for Reservation, which is not justified by the careful limitations laid down, the grant can be opposed on appeal to the Archbishop and the other Bishops. That is a very valuable and important consideration because it is not at all likely that a Bishop if he desires to extend the granting of these licences will do so if a grant can be upset on an appeal to the Arch- 1058 bishop and Bishops of the Province. It is not surprising, therefore, to find that the laymen of the Church of England have supported this Measure throughout the length and breadth of the country
We have never claimed that it was supported by a majority of the people of the country. Why should it be? It does not apply to them. It does not refer to them. But it is supported by a majority of the laymen of the Church of England. [HON. MEMBERS "No!"] I do not say they are enthusiastic; whoever did find enthusiasm for a moderate and middle course between two extremes? Enthusiasm is always on the side of extreme causes, but there is a steady determination to support this Measure on the part of the laity, because there is a real genuine belief that unless these reforms are granted we shall not have peace in the Church. To suggest that we laymen are afraid of the Bishops and have acted according to their wishes is contrary to the facts. If the laymen and clergy in the diocesan conferences were entirely under the hands of the Bishops, or were in any sense of the word intimidated, why did the diocesan conferences of Worcester and Norwich vote in favour of the Deposited Book? The Bishops of Worcester and Norwich were against the new Prayer Book, yet in these diocesan conferences the laymen voted in favour of the Book by enormous majorities. It cannot be maintained, therefore, that the laymen of the Church of England do not desire this Measure, and that being the case, I think the House should recognise the authority, the great authority, which is behind it, and also recognise the desire for the Book by the laity of the Church of England and send the Measure forward for Royal Assent.
Let me say a word with regard to discipline. Re all want discipline, and many of us would not agree to these changes if we did not think they would produce discipline. We shall obtain discipline without the necessity of any penal legislation, which has always failed in the past and which would fail in the future. We shall obtain it for this reason. What power does this Measure give to the Bishops which they do not at present possess in order to maintain 1059 discipline? It is proposed to proceed on the lines suggested by the Royal Commission. It is possible to recognise the two streams, referred to in his remarkable speech last December by the Prime Minister and by the present Attorney-General. This Measure recognises these two streams and gives them their proper position in law. It clears up difficulties. No one knows to-day what the law is. You have two eminent Church lawyers like Lord Phillimore and Lord Parmoor taking exactly contrary views on certain important questions. It is impossible to say what the law is, and you cannot enforce a law which is uncertain. Another reason why it will be more easy to obtain obedience in the future is that the new Measure will have behind it the support of the House of Commons and also the support of the spiritual forces of the Church in Convocation and Representative Assembly. That will carry immense weight with the Church. At present they are dependent on decisions of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Some members of the Church do not recognise that authority, while others do. At any rate they are dependent on that at the moment. In future they will depend on the authority which is behind this Bill, and we shall have a far better state of order than we have at present.
These changes are inevitable whether the House allows this Measure to go forward or not. The Bishops, Convocation and the Church Assembly, have definitely stated their opinion as to what should be the law of the Church and what changes should be made. They are on record, and no action of this House or of the House of Lords can affect that record in any way whatever. In order to be thoroughly constitutional I admit that they need the assent of this House and of the House of Lords and I hope that assent will be given. I hope this position will be maintained, because I do not wish to see the Church disestablished. But I submit that the position is this, that these changes are on record, they are the considered opinion of the whole of the forces of the Church and of the Assembly set up by Parliament, and nothing can alter that fact. Surely it will be impossible to make men conform to a law which does not recognize 1060 the changes which are now proposed by the new Book. I urge hon. Members who are in doubt as to which way to vote to remember this and to be guided by it in the way they vote.
We are impatient of these doctrinal discussions. We want to get away from our passing differences and go forward with the important work of our Church. There is one little suggestion I should like to make, and that is this, that if only the Anglo-Catholic party would drop the use of the word "Mass" it would go a long way towards making a settlement possible. The word is very often misunderstood, it has a certain historical meaning, and many people may be misled by it. It would be a gesture on their part, and at any rate I hope the moderate ones will drop the use of the word. Many people are opposing this Measure through fear. Their fears and anxieties will prove to be nothing more than a dream which will vanish in a night. I trust that this House will be willing to give the Church of England an opportunity to set her house in order on the lines suggested by her own leaders, clerical and lay, and if she is given that opportunity this House will never regret it.
§ Mr. MORRIS
I rise with a great deal of hesitation to take part in this Debate, because I am not a member, not a communicant of the Church of England. I am a Nonconformist in the first place, and in the second place I represent a Welsh constituency, and the Church has been disestablished in Wales. Two objections have been made by the supporters of the Deposited Book to men occupying a position similar to mine taking part either by speech or by vote in the decision of this issue. It is said that we have no right as Nonconformists and as non-communicants to speak or vote on an issue which supporters of the Book regard as an issue peculiarly concerning the Church of England and the Church of England alone.
§ Mr. MORRIS
I have not suggested that it has been said to-day, but the greater part of the correspondence that has been sent to me indicates that.
§ Mr. MORRIS
It has been said by large numbers of Members and supporters of the Book outside the House. If I wanted authority to justify my intervention in the Debate, and the intervention of all those who are similarly placed, I could cite the very distinguished—the highest authority indeed, of the supporters of the Bill—the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury. In introducing the Deposited Book last December, the Archbishop said:We hear words which I think are windy and foolish, to the effect that this is not really a matter for Parliament, that the Church has spoken with its own voice decidedly, and that the duty of Parliament is to endorse what the Church has said. I dissent altogether from that view, and I dissociate myself from those statements. Every Member of this House has, in my view, an absolute right to vote freely upon a matter of this kind. Indeed, I think it would be impertinence on my part to suggest anything else.If this were merely a matter concerning the Church of England as a denomination and a denomination only, I should certainly not venture to vote on it or to take part in the Debate. The hon. and learned Member for the English Universities (Sir A. Hopkinson) made an appeal of the same sort in a letter to the "Times." There is no man to whose opinion I would pay greater deference. But the issue is much wider than has been suggested. This is a national matter and concern, whether we belong to other denominations or to no denomination at all. It affects our conception of the religious destiny and development of this country in the future. We are at a turning point. Development has been going on for some time. It may be that we are not altogether agreed upon our point of opposition to the Deposited Book, but we are agreed at any rate on one thing, and there is one common point of difference: The main issue, the one clear issue, is between Protestantism and Catholicism, between sympathy with the modernist outlook and a reversion to medievalism. That is the one clear and complete issue involved in this Deposited Book.
I do not view that issue as a Churchman. I view it as a Nonconformist, and if the House will bear with me I shall put my point of view as a Nonconformist. 1062 I am entitled to put it because, after all, the Nonconformists seceded from the Church of England upon a similar issue and the very same principle in 1662. The 2,000 left the Church upon an issue precisely similar to this issue. Our ancestors left the Church then because they found that the doctrine of the 1662 Prayer Book went too far in the direction of Rome. Those who remained in the Church of England at that time said that it had abolished Romish doctrine. Rightly or wrongly the Nonconformists of that period took a different view. What interests me to-day is to find that the Evangelical party in the Church of England are coming round to the point of view of the Nonconformists of 1662.
As I listened this afternoon to the learned Solicitor-General, I could not help thinking that he was defending the Deposited Book in exactly the same way as the upholders of the Prayer Book of 1662 defended their position. The Dissenters of 1662 said, "You are wrong," and that is what we are telling the learned Solicitor-General to-day. We say to him and his supporters, "You are going too far." There will be an attempt made years hence to legalise the position which we said was illegal in 1662. That attempt is being made, and has resulted in a series of legal decisions. I have taken the precaution of reading through all the circulars sent to me regarding this subject. It is said that a layman and a lawyer has no right to be treated seriously on a theological issue. Members of the House of Commons and, indeed, people in the country are more deeply interested in theological issues than many people suspect. After all, man cannot shape his life unless he has some clear conception about the end of life. He shapes his conduct accordingly.
I have paid careful attention to what has been said. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary has issued a book which no doubt everyone has read. A very distinguished ecclesiastical lawyer, for whose opinions and learning and character. I have the most profound respect, has issued in reply a pamphlet dealing with the legal decisions arising out of the Book of 1662. I had the curiosity to read the judgment to which he directed my attention. One of them was cited to-day by the learned Solicitor-General. That is the one dealing with 1063 the interpretation of the Black Rubric—the difference between the 1552 Black Rubric and the Prayer Book of 1662. There was there a change of doctrine. That is one point that was argued about up to 1871. The argument was between the Evangelical party in the Church and their opponents as to the difference of doctrine between the two Prayer Books. It has been held that there was no difference between the two. It is now held that there was a difference of doctrine involved.
Take another case, the case of auricular confession. The Dissenters of 1662 argued that auricular confession was still permitted in the Prayer Book of that date. The Evangelical party had argued that auricular confession has been illegal in the Church of England all along. There is a decision now, in a case which was decided last year, that confession is permitted in certain circumstances, and that finding is based upon the 113th canon of 1603. That, again, confirms the view taken by the Dissenters in 1662. Then take the case of altar lights. The same case decided that altar lights, two lights on the High Table, are permitted. That had been contested between the Evangelical and the Anglo-Catholic party right down to last year. The position taken by the Dissenters in 1662 has been amply confirmed by the decision of a Court of Law. The Book of 1662, notwithstanding the arguments of the Evangelical party that it was purely Protestant, did cover and can cover, as far as the legal position goes, the Romish practices referred to.
If that be the case with regard to the other Book, what about the present Book? How can it be defended? What is the use of the Solicitor-General standing up and saying "There is no change of doctrine; we are not going any further." Our protests are very much the same as the protests made in 1662. We say to supporters of the Book "You are going very much further than in 1662." The Deposited Book has been brought into this House as a result, as much as anything else, of the legal decisions which have interpreted the Book of 1662 in the way that the Courts have done. It is a complete reversion in the direction of mediaevalism. It is said that some of us Nonconformists vote against this Book 1064 merely because we are moved by hatred of the Established Church. I would not speak lightly of any man's religious convictions; I would speak with the greatest respect even of the convictions of a man from whom I differed wholly. But that respect does not justify me in passing this Book without the closest scrutiny.
Looking at the conditions of our time, remembering the great intellectual inquiry of our time, remembering that people are really concerned with the appeal of the Christian religion—it would be a great mistake to say that the majority of the people, even if they are not church-going or chapel-going, are not religious people and not concerned with this question—we have to come to a decision on the serious issue before the House. Mental science and religious science, dealing with the examination of man as man, is very much in the same position as physical science in the time of the Renaissance. There was much that was false and of no value then, but after careful and close examination, the scientists of the time built up a system of physical science which has transformed the thought of many throughout the world. Mental science and religious science to-day are similarly in that position.
Are we going to build the world anew or are we to revert to mediaevalism? That is the clear issue here. That is why I view the issue with great alarm. That is why I view the Deposited Book with alarm, not because of the actual harm it will do, but because of the trend that it represents. I am concerned, as most Members of the House are concerned, with the necessity for the triumph of the doctrine of the Christian religion. Does anyone believe that the vital matters of Christian religion are necessarily associated with genuflexions and vestments? That is the issue we have to decide in this Debate. It is an issue on which we cannot vote merely for ourselves to-day. We are voting for our grandchildren and their grandchildren. We are having an opportunity to decide this issue, whether we are going to cast our vote in favour of close examination and the furtherance of enlightenment or of purely mystical mediaevalism.
Countess of IVEAGH
I, with all of us who have supported this Book with conviction, have found our task of commending it to others difficult, because we have to deal with much ill-informed opinion. This is a very complicated and difficult subject. There are many people who are not prepared to leave it to the considered opinion of experts who have studied it, and yet at the same time are unable or unwilling to give sufficient time and attention to the matter themselves. It is, in fact, put briefly, much easier to appeal to prejudice than to appeal to reason. In that matter, the opponents of the Measure have been in a much stronger position than we have. The hon. Member who spoke last said that he had read through all the literature which we Members of Parliament have received during the last few days. There are very few men in the country who have done that or indeed who have read very much on the subject. In fact, I should very much like to know how many of those who oppose the Book have read the Book. Personally, I have met many among its opponents whom I have forced to admit that they have not examined the Book closely.
All this, of course, has given opportunity for many extravagant statements to be made. I have made a note of some of the statements made to me, and I am confident that many Members have received similar communications in which we have been told that the reintroduction of a Measure rejected by this House six months ago was an insult to Parliament. I find it difficult to understand what that means, but one or two hon. Members have supplied me with the basis on which that statement was made. It seems to have been assumed by them that this House was reconsidering a Measure like other Measures which come before the House, but that is not so. Other Measures which come before the House have full opportunity for all possible Amendments to be made to clear away misunderstandings and to make the point of view of those who promote them more abundantly clear, if it is not clear as the Measure is originally drafted. That is not the position with a Measure of this kind. One cannot amend it. Consequently, there is no insult in reintroducing the Measure, when it became 1066 clear on the last, occasion that, there were misunderstandings and that, by alterations of words and further safeguards, the intentions of the promoters of the Measure would be made still more clear. I have received a communication asking me to support the rejection of the Measure to save the Monarchy, to safeguard our beloved country, and because the faith of our children is in danger, notwithstanding the fact that there is no provision whatever to make any alteration in the Church catechism. Statements of flat kind show how ill-informed is public opinion, and they are not only very extreme, but they could only come about because of the fact that the subject is vary difficult to understand and necessitates much study.
We find that abundantly clear when we look at the different comments expressed on the main subject as to whether this Book does or does not depart from the faith as now held by the Church of England. We know that eminent Free Churchmen have expressed it as their opinion that the rubrics now in the Book definitely exclude any sanction of the doctrines of Rome. One of them has told us that in his opinion there is a change of doctrine, but it is one which he, as a Free Churchman, welcomes because the change is certainly not in the direction of Rome. That being so, it is evident that the subject is one of considerable difficulty and complexity. But do we really seriously believe that this Book, or indeed for that matter almost any book, would cause this nation to come under the domination of the Bishop of Rome or that this Book or any other book would make an enlightened Anglo-Saxon community in the twentieth century go back to what we of the Protestant Faith believe to he the errors and superstitions of the Middle Ages? We shall always have Anglo-Catholics, and we shall always have Roman Catholics. It may well be that, when this Book becomes law. some of our more extreme Anglo-Catholic brethren may find—because there will be a more rigid definition of how far the Church of England intends to go and where she intends to stop—that their place is not in the Church of England at all.
I feel that in this we are in grave danger of osing our sense of proportion 1067 and, more than that, our common sense. I would appeal to hon. Members to get back to realities, and I would ask some of them to cast their minds back 10 or 12 years and to ask themselves why, as I believe was the case, it never occurred to them to take exception to the padre who carried the consecrated and reserved sacrament about with him into the trenches. We have heard to-day something of the Malines Conversations. I venture to think that that Anglican padre and possibly his Nonconformist brother would have approached their Roman Catholic brother in the trenches in probably the same spirit as prompted the Archbishop of Canterbury to take cognisance of these conversations with the representative of Rome. Why? Because then we were facing realities. It is when men are face to face with death that only realities concern them. That is why there grew up during the War the custom of offering prayers for the departed, a custom which even the most evangelical churchmen recognised during the War, because in the War we were facing realities, and we could not stop to consider whether a prayer for those who had died in the service of their country implied or did not imply a belief in the doctrine of purgatory.
In these very difficult times, the people of this country are like the peoples of old, looking for a sign, and particularly the younger people. They are full of perplexities. They are beginning to look towards religion, and are wondering, some of them only half consciously, whether in religion they can find a key to their perplexities. The last hon. Member reminded us that this was a very old controversy, and that we of the Church of England differ from our Nonconformist brothers on certain points. We cannot get away from that fact. We differ from them on certain points, the very same points on which we differed from them in 1662. But the young people of this country, who do not perhaps go to church very often, are looking towards religion, and I am thinking of what the effect of this controversy will be. They know quite well, when they hear a discussion upon the chasuble being used in the Communion Service, that in the lifetime of those still living the surplice was called "a 1068 Popish rag." This is a very old controversy, and I think some people, particularly these young people, will turn away very disappointed, and say that once again religion has proved itself a wrangle over formularies and a dispute over the precise meaning of words. We have often heard in these discussions that we should go to Holy Scripture to find our inspiration. I would like to remind hon. Members of some words which, in a dispute long ago in the Church of Corinth, Paul in his wisdom addressed to that Church. He told them:There are diversities of gifts but the same Spirit.And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.I would appeal to lion. Members, with all the force of which I am capable, that we should look up from the dust of this miserable controversy to where the light is, because we should surely realise that not one of these arguments is of the slightest importance, if in any way that controversy endangers the only thing that matters, which is the spread of the Kingdom of God in the hearts of men.
Major Sir ARCHIBALD BOYDCARPENTER
I rise to express my own opinion upon this much debated Measure, and my task in none the easier to-night for the fact that I have not encroached upon the time of the House of Commons for four years or more. I have not had the opportunity, and therefore I ask the indulgence of the House to-night almost as a new Member. It is a question which, from its very innate essence, is one that troubles the hearts of men, and the way has not been made easier by the very frank and courageous speech of the Noble Lady behind me. It is a speech that must appeal to all in its human interest and its inwardness. None the less, I have another difficulty. For 35 years my father was a colleague of the Archbishop of Canterbury. He ordained the Archbishop of York. He was a member of the Royal Commission about which there is so much discussion. When the learned Solicitor-General criticised the Home Secretary and said that it was wrong for him to say that this Measure was rendering legal illegalities, the learned Solicitor-General 1069 forgot the phraseology of the report of the Royal Commission. The words are clear, and they are these:These practices have an exceptional character as being marked by all the three following characteristics.
We desire to express our opinion that these practices should receive no toleration and that if ecclesiastical measures are not taken for their repression the Bishops should take or permit disciplinary action in the Church courts for that purpose. Further, in the case of these practices, it is in our opinion unnecessary and undesirable to postpone proceedings until the reforms which we have recommended can be carried into effect.
- 1. They are clearly inconsistent with and subversive of the teaching of the Church of England as declared by the Articles as set forth in the Prayer Book.
- 2. They are illegal, and
- 3. Their illegality cannot be held to depend upon judgments of the Privy Council.
§ Sir BOYD MERRIMAN
I did not suggest that those practices were not illegal. I said they were, but I said that the Book did not legalise those practices.
§ Sir A. BOYD-CARPENTER
If that be so, if the hon. and learned Gentleman says the Book does not make the practices legal, then, again, I am afraid he must have controversy with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Who said that these practices were illegal. No one has a greater respect for that great man than myself, and he has repeatedly said that he viewed the controversy with great disfavour. He made a speech in which 'he said that it was an unfortunate fact that they were going to attempt, in this Bill, to carry through, if they could, something that would give the appearance, anyhow, of making legal practices which are illegal to-day.
§ Sir BOYD MERRIMAN
I am sorry to be controversial, but a list of those practices is set out 15 lines higher up and not one of them is legalised by the Book.
§ Sir A. BOYD-CARPENTER
I am afraid I must differ from the learned Solicitor-General. It is a matter of opinion. The hon. and learned Gentle- 1070 man says so from that bench, speaking as a layman, but that is not the opinion of some of the Bishops of the Established Church. I have heard speeches and remarks of learned Bishops on this matter—Bishops who are not altogether of my opinion. The Bishop of Birmingham holds them to be illegal. Dr. Weldon, who was headmaster of Harrow, says that these practices—[HON. MEMBERS: "What practices?"] I must go on in my own way. He has said that these practices were illegal and that there is a change of doctrine. He disagreed with the Archbishop of Canterbury in the statement that nothing that was suggested made any doctrinal change in the Church of England. He thought that thee was a change. After all is said and done, even if we, in this House, disagree upon this matter, my objection to this Measure is entirely different from that of many of the people who are opposing it. I listened just now to the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for North-East Leeds (Major Birchall), who said that the overwhelming opinion of the Church and the laymen in the Church was in favour of the Measure. The Bishop of Durham has been quoted so often in this controversy that it is just as well to remember what he said at the meeting of the Church Assembly which approved of this revised Prayer Book and sent it on to the House of Commons:It is very noteworthy that there is no public demand for any revision at all. This is my opinion. Such demand as there is appears to be almost wholly clerical and, even so, to be curiously limited. Perhaps the reason is two-fold—the fear that revision may make more difficulties than it removes, aid the consciousness that whatever changes may be legalised hare been, almost without exception, already made without legal authority, and with complete immunity from legal consequences.The Bishop of Gloucester, who has also been quoted in this controversy, said:There is one fact which ought to be remembered, that the vast majority of Churchmen would much prefer that there should be no alteration at all. I would say that in my opinion at least 90 per cent. of the ordinary members of the Church of England.Even in 1926 the Bishop of Gloucester expressed his opinion in the same way. I hate religious controversy, and I would be the last in the world to bring this matter into dispute or discussion, but the 1071 problem before us to-day is: Are we going to drift towards that attitude which was the attitude of the Hierarchy in years gone by that the Bishops and the clergy are to be the sole repositories of faith and interpreters of it, or are we to recognise what was accepted by many of our forefathers, namely, that the Church of England consists of the congregation of all faithful people? That is at the root of the matter. I deplore this controversy for this reason. I have the broadest views, personally, if the House will allow me to say so. I can take the Sacrament, or attend divine service in any place of worship and, after all, it is the personal aspect that matters and nothing else. To my mind, you are going back against the tradition of the Church of England, that it is the congregation of all faithful people, regardless of classes and castes. You are not considering that aspect, and you have the express opinion of Bishops who support this Bill that it is not in accordance with the views of the majority of laymen.
Then, indeed, we are doing something wrong for, as an hon. Member on the other side of the House said just now, with every revision of the Prayer Book in years gone by there have been cut off from the Church of England bodies of earnest men who form what are known as Nonconformist bodies of our country—weakening, by their absence, the inspiration of the Church and weakening everything that we value. Is it suggested that if this Book goes through there will not be something of an analogous nature? I am afraid I must believe that such consequences will follow. I am afraid that if this Measure goes through, with the misinterpretations if you like, with the want of understanding if you please, of the position which will occur, many of those who are to-day ardent members, whether they call themselves Evangelicals or not—I hate labels in Church matters—will separate from the Church of England. The Prime Minister in December last quite rightly spoke of the spectre of disestablishment. Believe me it is not a spectre to-day. It is clothed with blood and flesh, and the spectre of last year may become the real body of tomorrow. You will find a far greater demand for disestablishment in this realm, if this Measure goes through. All these people, ignorant though they may be— 1072 as the Noble Lady suggested just now—will have read of this matter, and at any rate they have intuition and faith in their own belief, and they will go in that direction which most of us in this House of all parties deplore, namely, the raising of a first-class political controversy over the question of the disestablishment of the Church of England.
I have not argued from an ordinary point of view. My real objection to this Measure—here many of my Evangelical and Protestant friends will disagree with me, but it is my strong and earnest conviction—is that this is an attempt to define something which is indefinable. The very moment that, in matters of religion and faith, you enter into the area of disputation as to what is to be regarded as a part of Church doctrine or what is not, you are up against human nature. In that most sacred and central service round which this controversy has raged, there is nothing but the mental attitude and heart of the recipient of the Holy Sacrament to be considered. If, to-day, you are going to attempt to define or to limit, this way or that way, then indeed you embark upon seas which will be troubled for generations to come, and will trouble the hearts of man. You will disturb the peace of the Church and you will bring into the political arena issues which we should all regret to see brought there. I beg and I implore the House as I have done for months those to whom I have had the opportunity of speaking, to consider this aspect of the matter.
Is it yet too late to ask these people to withdraw that one particular section of this Deposited Book which is the central fabric of the agitation and which, if it means anything to mankind, is so sacred and so intimate that it ought not to be the subject of political or House of Commons controversy? I believe to-day that if they would only do that, they would get the Prayer Book with all the readjustments which they want. They could have retrenchment on this side and retrenchment on that, and there would be no clash of opinion. The matter could be settled, if only, upon that one subject, they would meet those who feel as deeply as themselves. I feel deeply because, to my mind, it is an outrage that anybody should attempt to define to me, or any other man or woman, what the reception of that Sacra- 1073 ment means. It is impossible; and if you attempt to make a definition you make a limitation. Church authorities have said that the Church of England is comprehensive. Thank God it has been, but, is it not true that in every attempt at definition in this matter to-day there is a limitation of its comprehensiveness? It may be that the minds of those who seek this change are directed towards helping people who, perhaps, have been lawless but who are good Christian citizens. But in the attempt to satisfy those people, their action is, in itself, a limitation. It is a definition, and from the moment of that definition they are going to embroil the Church, which has suffered so much from these controversies, in still greater controversy and still greater harm. I ask if that one portion of the Deposited Book, even at the eleventh hour, cannot be withdrawn in the name of Christianity itself and of everything that men and women in this country value above political institutions or anything else.
I believe the heart of the House of Commons is sound in this matter. I believe whatever criticisms may be levelled here and there against the rights of Members of Parliament in this connection, it is the innate right of Members of Parliament to consider these great matters. After all, we still remain a Christian country. We are entitled to ask that our views should be respected, and those who are responsible for this Book know that we are respecting theirs. There was not one word in that fatal Debate of last year that could create animosity in the minds of anybody. Please God there will not be such a word in these Debates. There has been a genuine, sincere desire to get nearer to one another, and to find a way out, a via media, in the matter. I believe to-day it can yet be done. If it is not done, we shall be faced with the tragedy, perhaps, of political enterprise in this matter. That, I honestly believe, would be deplored by every Member of this House, of whatever party, and would be a hateful thing. In registering my disapproval of this Measure, based as it is upon the idea that you are trying to define what is indefinable and to limit what is limitless and that you are bringing into the controversy the possibility of future political action, I feel strongly that it will do an injustice to ourselves 1074 and an injustice to this country. You are creating a set of circumstances from which we shall find it impossible to retire, perhaps for many years:The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit Shall lure it hack to cancel half a Line, Nor all your Tears wash out a word of it.Believe me, that in considering the decision which we have to make to-morrow in the House of Commons, we have to face this fact—that while we are asked to make a decision which will antagonise some, we may antagonise more upon another side of the controversy. I hate the word "Protestant," which has been so mis-used, and historians have told us that most of the people who have used the word "Protestant" have never understood its political aspects and its real meaning. I hate the word; I hate all these controversial words; they are abhorrent to me, but I do say this—and I believe the majority of the people of this country believe this to be true: Let these people, even with the disorders in the Church of which we have heard so much, go on, let them "dree their own weird," let them exercise their office in the way that they feel called upon to do, but the public opinion of this country and the sane sense of the people will gradually bring them back to the fold, as has always been found in our political and ecclesiastical history, and the disorders of which we have heard so much, which many of us deplore, will after all find their place as small ripples upon the sea of ecclesiastical and Church development. As the years go on, we shall see that we did rightly in the House of Commons in rejecting a Measure that would have made, not peace, but a drawn sword, in the ecclesiastical controversy.
If the Bishops claim to-day that these people will obey their orders, surely they could claim that, without this Book, they still have that superiority. If there is any meaning in their claim, it means that they are sufficiently satisfied that the character of their own clergy, if appealed to by intellect and by the sense of discipline and order, will be of such a nature that they will readily obey, once they know it, the determined opinion of those in whose hands ecclesiastical authority is vested. If that be not so, what use 1075 is there in passing this Book? They will have created friction among thousands in the country, they will have brought into the minds of thousands of good living people in this country disturbance of thought, they will have created controversy, they will not have done anything, by any of their gestures of goodwill, to bring the majority of the people of this country to a frank recognition of what is, after all, the desideratum of all Christian people, peace and harmony in the conduct of religious affairs. Let men and women willingly face their God, sure that their conscience is right., correcting themselves if they feel that their conscience is wrong, and feeling that in that liberty, undefined and unlimited, there is the sole salvation of mankind, as there is the sole hope for the Church of England.
§ Colonel LANE FOX
When my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Coventry (Sir A. Boyd-Carpenter) says, at the beginning of his speech, that this Measure legalises the illegal, and then complains, towards the end of it, that we are trying to define the indefinable, it seems to me his logic is curiously defective. I regret very much, as I am sure we all do, that it should be necessary to discuss matters of this kind in the House of Commons. I am the very last person who would suggest that the House of Commons has not a perfect right, under the Enabling Act and on every other ground to deal with these matters. The final control of these matters was kept in the hands of Parliament by the Enabling Act, and no one can dispute that Parliament has a legal right to deal with every Measure sent to it from the Church Assembly. But there are many things which are legal but which are not expedient or advisable. It is very difficult to discuss these matters freely, and the more deeply hon. Members feel on them, the more difficult it is for them to express their feelings.
I cannot help regretting that there should be so many in this House who are prepared to turn down completely the authority of the Church Assembly, to which the real discussion of doctrinal and internal matters of this kind is remitted, and which has given its decision upon them not once but twice. My hon. Friend the Member for Hereford (Sir 1076 S. Roberts), who opened the discussion against the Measure, caricatured the whole constitution of the parochial church councils and the Church Assembly and drew pictures of what happens there. All I can say is that L have been for some years at diocesan conferences, and it is entirely unture to say that the diocesan conferences are ruled with a rod of iron by the Bishops in charge, and it is unfair and untrue to say that the Church Assembly is not representative of the churchmen of this nation.
It is not relevant for hon. Members to speak as if they were merely up against the extremist section of the Anglo-Catholic party. It is a very convenient method in argument to set up the extremists as a bogy and turn all your arguments against them, but what I wish to impress upon the House is that, if they reject this Book, they are not merely up against the extremists of the Anglo-Catholic party, but they are really queering the pitch and limiting the field of thousands of earnest, loyal, sincere Anglo-Catholics, men of perfectly moderate views, who are doing the very best work which is being done in the Church of England to-day, and who will be put in a very serious difficulty if this Book is not accepted. The extreme Anglo-Catholic has chosen, in some instances, to defy his Bishop and go his own way. We need not trouble about him, but there is the far larger number, throughout the Church of England, of priests who are doing the very best work in the Church, but who are at the same time recognising the need for an expansion of their opportunities and a modification of the more rigid limits that have been set to the carrying out of their duties and ministrations.
To say, as did the hon. Member for Edge Hill (Mr. Hayes), that he has consulted his constituents and that they are all in favour of the refusal of this Book, does not carry one very far. The opinion of Liverpool has long been known, but in this matter we have to consider, not merely the opinion of one constituency, but the opinion of a great many constituencies, and it is not fair, because certain views prevail in a constituency like that of the hon. Member, that every other constituency should be limited in that direction. I have had some experience in my own constituency. I have had a great many resolutions sent me 1077 from parochial church councils in that constituency, but I have not had a single such resolution sent me against the Measure. As far as I know, I have had three or possibly four letters from individuals asking me to oppose the Book. I do not say that that counts for very much; but I can, at any rate, set it against the argument of the hon. Member for Edge Hill in showing him that the opinion of his constituency is not so completely decisive as he seems to imagine.
I cannot understand those who use the argument that parochial church councils are not representative and that, therefore, the Church Assembly, which derives its origin from them, is not representative of the Church of England. The franchise, if I may call it so, for the parochial church councils is as wide as it can possibly be, and any baptised person of mature age can, and does if he takes sufficient interest, come on the electoral roll for the parochial church council. It has been suggested that in most cases the parochial church councils are entirely run by the clergy and are domineered over by certain individuals. All that I can say is that that is not what happens in my constituency. I have a constituency of hard-headed Yorkshiremen, who would not allow themselves to be dominated by any clergy, and they are not by any means predominantly Anglo-Catholic in my constituency, but they have distinctly, through their parochial church councils, told me that the one thing they want me to do is to support this Book and thus enlarge their opportunities and the scope of the ministrations of the clergy.
The point has not been sufficiently made of the difficulty in which the clergy find themselves at the present time. It is no use talking about what happened in 1662. We all know that the whole conditions of life in this country in every way have changed since then, and no doubt many things that were dangerous in 1662 might not be dangerous now. But there is one point that seems to have been forgotten, and that is that in 1662 there was only one form of religious worship permitted at all. There was no variation, and, therefore, the question of rigidity in the State control of the Church was a very much more real and live thing than it. is now. With the changes of science and of knowledge 1078 generally, there is a wholly new set of circumstances, and one of these circumstances at the present time is the very largely increased demand of all sections of members of the Church of England for more regular Communion. It is very rare that you ever find any sick person who is a member of the Church of England who does not strongly desire that he should be allowed to have his Communion; and the difficulties of the clergy, and particularly those conscientious clergy who have very strong scruples in these matters, ought not to be neglected by this House.
After all, these are the men who are doing some of the very best work in this country. Go into the slums, to the worst and darkest corners of the earth, and there you will find these men, I do not say the extremists, but the moderate Anglo-Catholics, the men whose heart is in their work; and these are the men for whom a curtailment of the present limitations is so urgently needed. If it is merely a question of whether certain members of the Church of England may be tempted to acts of adoration or whether the sick and dying are to be refused the last comfort which they so really and dearly want, I say that there is no doubt on which side I shall vote. One hon. Member has asked: "What is the real difficulty before us now? Is there really, in these days of materialism and scepticism, any real danger of adoration or of undue worship of sacred things?" Surely the great danger, the real danger, is not that people should worship too much, but that they should worship too little, and when an hon. Member said that it was owing to the changes in the services of the Church of England that the churches were empty and that the man in the street did not go in, I can only say that I do not believe that that is true. The hon. Member will find, though he may not agree with it, that many of the churches where the congregations are most overflowing and where the enthusiasm is greatest are these very Anglo-Catholic churches which we have heard denounced. There is a real risk of indifference, and in rejecting this Book you are not merely up against the extreme Anglo-Catholics, but you are going to disappoint, and bitterly disappoint, those moderate men who are 1079 anxious to be loyal, who respect the authority of their Bishops, but who find it extremely difficult to do their duty by their flock under present circumstances.
One word upon the question of discipline and the action which the Bishops have taken. It has been said very strongly by the Home Secretary, and by many others, that the Bishops have been weak, and that they want to strengthen their authority. The one way in which they will weaken their authority is by rejecting this Book. After all, there is no authority which will be regarded by the section of the Church around which the conflict has raged in the same sense as the authority of the Bishops. There is no section of the Church of England which holds so strongly as do the Anglo-Catholics the doctrine of the spiritual authority of the Bishops, and its direct lineal succession from the Apostles. If you weaken that, you weaken the one thing which will make possible the bringing of some pressure to bear in these matters. The House of Commons will not be recognised by them in spiritual matters, and the Home Secretary will certainly not be recognised; and you are weakening the one authority to which these men will respond, and to which a large number of them have hitherto responded, and taking away the one authority by which you may be able to control these things, if the very things which the Bishops have said by this Book should be legitimate in the Church of England are turned down by the House of Commons without any real spiritual authority. Could anybody say that the authority of the Bishops could possibly be strengthened by action of that kind? We hear of a thousand recalcitrant priests, who are not going to obey whatever Book may be passed. All I can say is that it cannot fail to increase those who refuse to obey authority, if you treat the Bishops' authority in this manner, because you will take away the one real weapon which you have for controlling those who are conscientious and really genuine members of the Church of England.
The last speaker pleaded for what he called a compromise, and for a book which should not contain the controversial elements about which discus- 1080 sion has mainly been concentrated. It is perfectly useless to ignore realities. You may alter a few words, and make the Marriage Service a little less stiff and blunt; you may alter a few Psalms, and do small things which may make for a certain convenience in the Services of the Church, but you will not touch the real thing. After all, it is the Communion Service, which originally caused the Royal Commission to be set up, on which the whole controversy arose, and the instructions which the House of Commons gave to the Bishops to revise the Services of the Church were based on that controversy almost entirely. They would have neglected their duty, and the instructions of this House, if they had not gone straight to that controversy and tackled the real question. To think that we shall settle this question by merely tinkering with a few things that matter very little, and neglecting the big things that do matter, is to delude ourselves entirely into thinking that this will lead to anything like permanent peace. We all respect the courage of the Home Secretary, but we almost wonder at his presumption when he suggests that after all the work of 20 years, by the most earnest and best equipped body in the country, to revise the Prayer Book should be rejected by this House, and that he will take it before a Committee, and in a week he will have a settlement of the whole controversy. He will find that it is extremely difficult to get any considerable number of the various sections in the Church of England to accept his book, any more than any other book which is really the voice of a section.
The whole principle of this Book is to retain and increase the comprehensiveness of the Church of England, and I differ altogether from those who consider that there is a certain tendency in the direction of what some people consider Romish practices which has really caused indignation among our Nonconformist brethren. We want to make the Church of England as comprehensive as it can be, and I had not noticed that during the past 50 years, when these so-called Romish practices have grown up, the attitude of the Nonconformists has become more exclusive. It is perfectly obvious at this moment that there is a far better feeling of friendliness between the Nonconformist bodies and the Church 1081 of England than there was many years ago. It is absurd to say that the comparatively small things which this Book will now make more clearly legal in the Church of England will alienate our Nonconformist brethren. We have to remember that we cannot all have what we want. The hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Morris), told us frankly that he represented the old Nonconformist point of view, and that he would have been against the old Prayer Book if it had come before this House; he would have been acting on the lines of his predecessors in 1662, and have been against it, because you cannot satisfy everybody, and there must be different views. We cannot all hope to have what suits ourselves. There are many things in the new Book, and some things in the old, which I should very much like to see otherwise, but I am prepared to accept them because I do not want to drive the Home Secretary and others into a schism from the comprehensive area of the Church.
There has been far too much appeal to prejudice, and I ask hon. Members to discard the subsidised floods of literature that have come to us, and appeals to prejudice, some of it utterly unworthy of the cause in which they were made. I appeal to the House to get rid of that prejudice, and to come down to the realities which should be the basis of our discussion and decision and to think very carefully indeed before they reject the 20 years' work of the Bishops in the Church of England, and reject the appeal of the many earnest, worthy, sincere and hard-working clergy, who are doing such magnificent work in Dome of our worst and darkest places, and whose interests and opinions we ought to consider.
§ Mr. SNELL
The general purpose of this discussion is not to score debating points, and therefore the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken will not think me discourteous if I do not refer in any direct way to the remarks which he has made. In a problem such as we are discussing to-day, which has been subjected to such a searching examination on the part of very able and experienced men, it is doubtful whether anything new or useful can be said in regard to it, but it may truthfully be stated that the problem has been approached, in the 1082 main, from the Anglican attitude on the one side, and the evangelical attitude on the other side. I venture to enter in this Debate to try to state the position of what may be called the unchurched multitude, who do not belong either to a church or chapel, who are neither erudite nor ignorant, who are neither mystics nor rationalists, but who have a deep reverence for the spiritual heritage of our people who proudly acknowledge the rock whence they were hewn, and look to the Members of this House to-day and to-morrow to preserve for them the religious liberties which their fathers have won for them. They are disciples of young Jotham, whowas twenty and five years old when he began to reign … and he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord … howbeit he entered not into the temple of the Lord.They are clean, upstanding men, whose probity and friendliness of heart and mind are an example to us all, and if I venture to say a word from that aspect of this problem, it is with the simple qualification that I belong to them, and I would not have it otherwise. We have to approach the problem before us from three different standpoints, the first of which is that attitude of religious freedom which I regard as the most precious possession which any man or community can possibly have. Religion is a private matter, and it should therefore be free and uncoerced. I believe, and the man-in-the-street believes, on the whole, that no priest, no council, no body of any kind has the right to violate the sacred ground of a man's religious convictions, and he believes also that no State has the right to select or prescribe, or the right to patronise, any particular form of religion in the community to the exclusion of other forms which people hold who arc also citizens of the realm.
I have believed in religious freedom more keenly and abidingly than in anything else in my life, and I would cut off my right hand rather than vote against the religious freedom of people who differ from myself. If the Church of England were a tree and voluntary religious body, they would have the right, without coming to this House, to have what religion they please. But the Church is not a free body; it is the Church of England, and it represents the official religion of the nation. Its Prayer Book is of the nature 1083 of a State document, and, therefore, when it comes before us as Members of Parliament, we are bound to give it the same serious, and I hope unprejudiced attention, that we should give to any other Bill or Order that came before us. The claim has been made, and it is one that should be seriously considered, that because the Church Assembly has approved this Measure by considerable majorities, the House of Commons should abdicate its functions, and that, as silent automata, we Members of this House should give without question or hesitation what the Church Assembly ask. One is inclined to ask why, in that case, the matter comes before the House of Commons at all. If we are not to consider it, why is our time wasted in regard to it?
How far is this doctrine that a State institution must be free from the State to extend? I did not notice a few months ago that there was the same eagerness to give civil servants in Government employ freedom to do what they pleased, or that trade unions, who were within the law, were to be allowed to do what they thought was right, with what was more clearly their own. It seems to me to be a dangerous doctrine that the Church alone may make this demand when they, too, in the wider sense, are the servants of the State. I want to say a word of resentment against the language which members of the Church have thought it right to address to this House. There has been abuse of this Assembly, which has cast upon it very serious responsibilities, such as the Church might with advantage have refrained from. In the minds of some Churchmen we are merely astrange mob of Atheists, Communists, Mohammedans, Buddhists, Christian Scientists, Unitarians and agnostics,and so on. But whatever our faults are, and they are not small, we are the Commons of England, sent here by the people to do our duty as we see it. Such language has not been used since the days of Wolsey, and the time may have come to tell gentlemen of that character that in the end the State, and not the Church, is going to be master in this Realm.
A second point of view which deserves our closer attention is that we should 1084 do all we can to promote peace within the Church. If consistently with our duty we could do that it would not only be a duty but a privilege. We do not want to destroy the Church or impede her development; we do not want to split her asunder into many sects. Anybody who thinks rightly on these matters would rather bring all the sects together into one beloved community which would try to work for the good of the realm. But would this bring peace to the Church? We are assured that it would create division, that it would mean the exiling from the Church of some of her most loyal sons. In any case, a Member of Parliament has to consider the matter in a wider aspect than even the peace of the Church. He has to ask himself how it will affect the nation as a whole, its past and its future liberties. The real point, the one point to which we are bound to give our attention and from which we cannot escape, is just this—does this Measure contain principles which conflict with the gains of the Reformation? If it does we are bound to oppose it, and that it does we are assured by able and, I believe, loyal and conscientious and well-instructed members of the Church itself.
There is a third point of view, that the Bishops ought to coerce allegiance to their orders. I say quite frankly that I am not opposed to the revision of the Prayer Book. I think a revision is very much needed. It is almost grotesque that in the 20th century we should be restricted and limited to 17th century forms. If it were proposed to bring up to date the whole of the Prayer Book, to modernise its teaching, to re-state its 39 Articles in the light of modern knowledge, history, philosophy and psychology, one might have been tempted to take the whole Book, the good as well as what we object to, but what has happened has been that one phase of it has been selected, and the most controversial phase, in order to please a minority within a minority in the State. I am not very keen about coercion in anything. I loathe it in religious matters, and therefore I do not join in the cry that the Bishops should coerce their people into obedience. I know how difficult a task it is and how completely distasteful it must be to sensitive and fine-minded 1085 men, as most of the Bishops are, but life is full of disagreeable duties. I have a disagreeable duty to perform to-morrow night, not of my own choosing, but I dare not shrink from that duty when it is before me. But if the Bishops are not able to coerce, they might at least refrain from appointing disloyal people when appointments become vacant. I should be sorry to uphold His Majesty's present Government as an example of moral perfection—I put it as modestly as I can—but at least they never appoint disloyal people to their offices, which only shows that we politicians have at least as high a moral standard as ecclesiastics.
But I say that if this Book is conceded by Parliament it will not be the end. A new demand will be made and in 20 years' time there would then be no need for further Malines conversations, for the aim of those conversations will have been achieved. I believe that in this matter it is the business of the Bishops themselves to set an example, but I find the Bishop of Lincoln is reported in the "Times" of the 20th of May as saying:If the House of Commons rejects the revised Prayer Book, that will not prevent its being used. The lesson of history is that liberty is seldom conceded, it must be taken. We must take to ourselves the liberty we need.How is a Bishop who is not willing to be loyal to the State to expect loyalty from the clergy under his guidance? In this matter I venture, with very great deference, to appeal to what are called the disloyal men themselves, and to ask them to think where they stand. I want them to be free to practise their religion as they like, but they should take the steps which will give them freedom. A compelled religion, in my judgment, is no religion at all, and if a man has not complete self-abandonment as the servant of his message be has no more right in a pulpit than a mocker has in a sanctuary. We have had some difficulties to face ourselves. As a Labour party we have had people knocking at our door demanding to be of us when they were not with us, and if I may refer their Lordships to our way of treating the question they may gain a little encouragement in their own work.
I would only like to say to these people that I personally would be ashamed to wear the livery of the Church and eat the bread of the Church 1086 and at the same time betray her in her laws and in her orders. I am sometimes told by people of that kind that some of us ought to be afraid to die. If I were in their position, I think I should be afraid to live. At least, one must he loyal to one's bond, or one must give oneself freedom in the right way. I have no right to try to impose my own view of the religious life upon any other people, but it pleases, or it has pleased, the representatives of the Church to assume that we Members of Parliament are ignorant of the real meaning of this issue, and that they alone, from some superior understanding, have some quality that is not available to us. I want to say with all the emphasis I can that there is no source of goodness open to them, no source of spiritual insight and serenity, that is not open to myself or to any other of the "strange mob" of Members who have been sent to this House. In regard to the question of the enrichment of the Services, I would like to say that we do need beauty everywhere, beauty in our homes, in our streets and in our cities, above all in our lives, but let us not mistake beauty for religion. In this discussion that must not be Forgotten. The purpose of the Church is to develop moral personality, to develop internal rather than external beauty.
To-night somebody has ventured to approach this matter from the personal standpoint, and I would like to say that I have t) approach it, because I must, from the Puritan standpoint. My own people came from very near to Scrooby Manor, NN here William Brewster gathered his friends around him and preached religious freedom, as he saw it, and with them, in due course, set out from Plymouth to search not for gold but for God. They were sincere and their spirit remains in our land at the present time. I approach this matter, therefore, believing in severe simplicity. The supreme ideal should be isolated and without competition.There is great stillness in the Courts of Heaven,and all this over-dressing, this embroidery, comes to me as a harsh noise in a welcome stillness. On that ground alone, therefore, I do not think I hat religion is to be enriched by the mere adornment which is proposed. We want men who an draw living water from the 1087 rocks and speak to us in words that will help and inspire.
I do not desire to detain the House beyond dealing with the question of the relation of this problem to the Reformation. The business of the Church of England is to defend and not to tamper with the faith of this land, and, when all has been said against the Reformation, I believe it to have been the most blessed thing that happened in modern history. The Church has to select where she is going to stand. She may be free, but, if she is not free she must be loyal. I want her to be a free Church amongst free Churches. While the work of the State is too important to be interfered with by the Church, I believe also that the work of the Church is immensely too important to be interfered with by the State. Each in its place is best. The State has nothing to do with the teaching of religion. It can do many wonderful things for our bodies, it can give us a beautiful environment, it can help us to make life beautiful and healthy in a material sense, but it never interferes with a man's soul except to its disadvantage. Religion, as I see it, is a great affair between a man and the universe, and a State religion can never be anything more than a discordant reflection of a man's inner life. It is a thing which is not wholly understood by himself and can never be understood by others.
Since I have been a Member of this House I must have given more than 2,000 votes in the Lobbies, and all of them put together have not given me the anxiety of the vote which I have to give to-morrow. It would be possible for me to abstain from voting, for my constituents have given me no authority to take the step which is demanded of me, and I know that they would rather that I made an honest error of judgment than that I should wilt before a disagreeable responsibility. Therefore, with very great regret and with every desire to see religion free, I cannot, because I dare not, vote for this Measure.
§ Mr. GOODMAN ROBERTS
I should like to begin by saying that I agree with the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Morris) when he said that Welsh—and I should like to add Scottish—Members 1088 have a very real and abiding interest in this Debate. The Church of Wales not many years ago ceased to be established, and when she became disestablished she set up a constitution and a governing body. One of the first things that governing body did was to try and ensure that the Church's formularies, traditions, and view point should be kept in line with the sister Church of England over the border. Any changes which may take place in Anglican formularies in England, whether permissive or not, are matters of very great interest and anxiety to the members of the Church in Wales.
If this Measure passes into law, it is true that no parish in Wales would be directly affected at once, and it would remain entirely a matter for the Governing Body to decide whether the new Prayer Book should be introduced in Wales or not. If this Measure happens to be rejected and we wished to have in Wales a revision, if we wished to get on with the same problem which has troubled the Church of England for so many years, we could not do it without making a new departure which would put us further away in our formularies from the English Church.
There are many who hope that the work which those who undertook the task of revision have done during the last few years will heir fruit on both sides of the border. It is my profound conviction that the old religious bitter-nesses which formerly existed in Wales have, in a very large measure, died away. Within the last two or three decades there may have been, sometimes, crude appeals or unthinking phrases which have led in isolated cases to a temporary revival of the spark of animosity, but in the long run the feeling now is one of toleration and one of realisation that the Christian bodies in Wales have to work together to face materialism, full of a real belief in the definite nature of their mission and an anxiety for cooperation in carrying out that mission. That being so, in Wales we find that the Free Churches of all kinds, including the Church which was recently disestablished, are able to co-operate together in a marked degree. In particular, Free Churches are not tied down to their trust deeds, and there is a considerable amount of elasticity allowed in construing them 1089 which makes for spiritual gain rather than for a narrow view-point. Consequently, we appeal to the Nonconformists in Wales and Scotland, and we ask them not to let our spiritual progress as a Church be hampered by the fact that we are a national Church, and we hope it may be possible for us to remain a national Church.
The changed conditions which exist have, in the opinion of most people, made a revision desirable. Who will settle the question whether we are to expand and how we are to grow? Surely, the motive of the leaders in any religious community in a time of enlightenment, when bigotry and prejudice are dying away, should be reasonably above suspicion. They may be mistaken and their claim should be subject to scrutiny, but their motives ought to be respected as the intentions of honourable men. Listening to the speech of the hon. Member for Cardigan, I must say that I admired it very much, although I thought it was more in the nature of an appeal to people to join the Free Churches than anything in the nature of an objection to the Prayer Book Measure. Although I admired that speech very much I was distinctly surprised at the hon. Member when he charged us with mediaevalism. It is true we are expanding, and we are desirous of getting alternatives into our formularies and or weekly and daily Services in order to meet the needs of our parishes and of different people in the same parishes, but is it really mediaevalism to try and get into touch with the modern needs and requirements which have grown up since the War, and try to face a situation in the industrial parishes which had not to be faced 300 years ago?
Take, for example, the Service of Baptism. There is a rubric providing that baptism is to be solemnised after the lesson at morning or evening prayer. That is broken in every parish church in the land. Is there a single hon. Member in this House who would say that that is a disgraceful illegality? There are many practices which must be altered. As you go through the Prayer Book, you will find much difficulty in dealing with the illegalities of the present day. The difficulty is not that of deciding whether a thing is illegal or 1090 not, but whether it is an illegality with which lie ought to deal.
After the Royal Commission realised the necessity for a revision, and the Enabling Act was passed, the Church had to set its house in order and it proceeded to do so. Two objections have been raised in regard to the Church Assembly with which I am anxious to deal. The first is that it is not fully representative of the silent laity, and that is rather a serious accusation. It is a fact that this House tried to make the Church Assembly as fully representative of the laity as it possibly could. The present position is that anyone who signs a declaration to the effect that he is a member of the Church of England and is 18 years of age is entitled to a vote. As a rule, the people who raise this objection about the silent laity not being represented are those who have not bothered to put themselves on the register, and consequently they do not exercise the franchise. If there is really this tremendous feeling against the Prayer Book Measure, it seems a very extraordinary thing that not the Bishops, not the clergy, but the laity at nearly every diocesan conference have supported this Prayer Book Measure in very large numbers and by very large majorities. Therefore, it seems very unfair that at this stage those who have not put themselves upon the electoral roll should step in at the eleventh hour, after all the labours of revision have taken place, not only as critics, but as deliberate wreckers of the Measure.
If the Church Assembly were to present to us, as a result of its long deliberations, a book which commanded universal assent, I venture to think it would be a desperate sign of their descending vitality. I am surprised to learn of a suggestion which is current in many quarters, that this Book should be rejected now, and an agreed Book should presently be produced and adopted. Agreement upon what? Would it be possible to take out all the controversial parts of the Book, all the parts to which someone or other could take objection? What Book is there of which every person would say, "I like every single point in this Book," and what would be the value of the changes or alterations which were made? What those who have passed this Book have 1091 learned is a spirit of toleration in the Church Assembly. They have learned a readiness, not to compromise about essentials, but to give and take on small matters and see each other's point of view; they have learned the wisdom of envisaging a wide unity and a greater comprehensiveness; and that spirit, if it be expressed again in this House, will do for religion in this country more than anything else that it is in our power to do. Suppose that we had an agreed Book. What will the younger generation, about whom we have heard so much this afternoon, and what will the man in the street think, if we assent only to the passage of a Book which neglects to give clear guidance on every essential point upon which authoritative guidance is really required?
My view, personally, is that the greater comprehensiveness in the Church which will result from the passage of this Book will help very largely towards reunion. A wide choice in the Services, a wide set of alternatives, takes away in many cases reasonable excuse, where it existed before, for the commission of illegalities which are deplored in this House and, indeed, very widely outside it. I honestly believe that there is no change of doctrine in the Book, and, with great diffidence, I have decided to try, with such ability as I possess, to deal as fearlessly as I can, and, I hope, offending no one, with two of the most controversial points in this connection. In the first place, I want to refer to the suggestion that there is a change of doctrine in relation to the Sacrament of the Holy Communion. We have Article XXVIII. Hon. Members will remember some of its words, but the Solicitor-General did not read the whole of it when he opened the Debate this afternoon, and I want to read the paragraph which deals with Transubstantiation. It is as follows:Transubstantiation (or the change of substance of Bread and Wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by holy Writ; hut it is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.May I pause here for a moment? That is a clear, undeniable and authoritative condemnation of the doctrine of corporeal change of the substance of the Bread and Wine—the substance of the Body and 1092 Blood—as is contended by the adherents of another Church. That is the first part of the Article, and it goes on:The Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten, in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is Faith.There you have—and I am glad to see that the hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Rosslyn Mitchell) is in his place—the difference between the Roman and the Anglican doctrine clearly expressed in words. Transubstantiation is the corporeal Presence; but a Presence none the less real, but spiritual only in character, is declared as the definite Anglican doctrine. There is a third doctrine which is held by some, but which, as I venture to say, I hope without hurting their feelings, approaches very near to the doctrine of Zwingli. Zwingli was an eminent Swiss divine who got rather into trouble for holding that view, but his view was that the Sacrament was neither more nor less than a simple remembrance of the death of Our Blessed Lord, and that He was no more present. in the Sacrament than He would be on any other occasion where two or three were gathered together in His Name. May I try, I hope in a humble manner, to deal with this very difficult question of the Presence? It is said, and said rightly, that God is present in the sense that He is immanent everywhere, because He pervades the whole universe. On the other hand, it is true that, there is another Presence, specially promised in the words of Our Lord when He said:Where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them.There is also, as I submit, a third kind of Presence, a deeply significant and real Presence, but only, in the words of Article XXVIII, after a spiritual manner. You get, finally, the view of a corporeal Presence, which is the Roman view. I want just to show that this Presence, "after an heavenly and spiritual manner," has always been a part of the Anglican doctrine; and, secondly, I want to show that it still forms part of the doctrine in the new Prayer Book, and that the doctrine of transubstantiation, or the corporeal Presence, is not touched upon by the new Prayer Book at all. I hold the old Prayer Book in my hand, and the first thing I come to is the exhortation 1093 which every clergyman is supposed to read to his congregation before communion. It is never read in any church. Who is going to prosecute a clergyman for that illegality? It is only when you get a book that has been revised so that everything in it can be enforced and all the services carried out in due order, made permissive and not obligatory where leave and license should be granted, that you can avoid having prayers that are in the Book but never used although they are enjoined to be used. In this exhortation, the phrases used are as follows:For as the benefit is great, if with a true, penitent heart and lively faith we receive that Holy Sacrament; for then we spiritually eat the flesh of Christ and drink His blood.That is in the old Book. Now go to the prayer invariably used before the Prayer of Consecration. It runs:Grant us, therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of Thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink His blood that our sinful bodies may be made clean by His body, and our souls washed through His most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in Him, and He in us.In the Prayer of Consecration itself we find:Grant that we receiving these Thy creatures of bread and wine, according to Thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ's holy institution, in remembrance of His death and passion, may be partakers of His most blessed Body and Blood.After reception of the Holy Communion in the Book we have now to pray again:We thank God for that Thou dost vouchsafe to feed us who have duly received these holy mysteries with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of Thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ.In the Church Catechism children are asked, what are the benefits "whereof we are partakers in the Lord's supper?" What is the answer?The strengthening and refreshing of our souls by the Body and Blood of Christ as our bodies are by the bread and wine.In the face of all this it scorns to me only right, though it is a matter one has a natural shrinking from to discuss these deep questions in this House, to point out that it really is in fact a mistake to confuse the doctrine of the corporeal Presence, which is enjoined in accepting transubtantiation as a spiritual doctrine, with the real Presence for which 1094 the Church of England stands and has always stood. What has always appealed to me, and I think will appeal to many Members, is a short verso that was attributed to some one in the time of Queen Elizabeth. It runs as follows:Christ's was the word that spake it;He took the bread and brake it,And what that word did make it,That I believe and take it.It seems to me that it is sufficient for Anglicans, on a broad system of comprehens veness, to accept that view, and that nothing but that view is expressed in the revised Book. The Solicitor-General read out the terms of the Invocation of the Holy Spirit in the Consecration Prayer. What is prayed for there is that the elements may be unto us the Body and Blood of our Lord. The whole stress is laid upon the faithful reception and the devout attitude of the receiver.
There was a letter I desire to speak about from the Archbishop of Wales. I have very great respect and affection for him, but I feel that he would not take, in any other theological matter, the words of the Roman Catholic priests whom he quoted in support of his view because they thought, or said they thought, the new office was a nearer approach to their communion. What is the real feeling in the Church in Wales? As soon as I saw that letter I did my best to get in touch with the Welsh Bishops. The Bishop of Bangor is unfortunately very ill. Two other Bishops I failed to get in touch with. I have here two letters, one from the Bishop of Llandaff, strongly evangelical, saying there are many things he dislikes in the Book but on the whole he supports it, and another from the Bishop of Monmouth, saying he did not wish to interfere when the Book was merely before the Church Assembly of England, but he hoped, now it had passed that Assembly. Parliament would pass it. So far as the change of doctrine is concerned, I would remind Presbyterians that this invocation in the Prayer of Consecration occurs in their Church and in their services, and so, too, Cranmer said in 1549 that we do not pray absolutely that the bread and wine may be made the Body and Blood of Christ but that unto us in that Holy mystery they 1095 may be so. Those are almost the very words.
May I pass from that to the question of reservation? Reservation has been practised in the Christian Church in one form or another since the second century, and we know that objection is taken to it, because it is said that the Sacrament of the Last Supper was not by Christ's orders to be carried about, lifted up or worshipped. What is the position there? The Council of Trent had said it was reserved by our Lord's orders, and reserved to be carried about, so that there could be processions of the Host. We know that this Prayer Book, which is not objected to in the sense that it is stated to be Roman now, except by one or two Members who are really meeting the issue we have to face, sanctions reservation when it says that when there are sick persons who cannot conveniently make their communion, the curate shall set apart from the consecrated bread and wine and shall take it without delay. What is not sanctioned is perpetual reservation—it has not been sanctioned at any rate until now—but there is nothing against Christ's Ordinance in reservation for the sick and dying. There are two sorts of ordinances, the ordinance which you must have, things that are ordered, and there are things that are permitted—laudable practices—and when you are considering the 28th Article of Religion you have to read in with it the 34th, which says those ordinances which are of man's authority may be rightly used by the proper authorities in the Church for the time being. It seems to me there is a distinction here between doctrine and practice. It has always been held that reservation is proper under certain safeguards. I will now read the paragraph from the Rubric.
Mr. ROY WILSON
May I remind the hon. Gentleman that the Member for Coventry (Sir A. Boyd-Carpenter), addressing the House to-night, pointed out that the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York, I think it was in 1908, made a definite pronouncement that Reservation was illegal.
§ Mr. ROBERTS
But that is perpetual Reservation. I am very glad the hon. Gentleman has reminded me, because that is the very point I am trying to 1096 clear up. If you look at the beginning of the Order for Communion of the Sick in the old Book, you will find that there is a distinct—I am afraid I cannot find it. I did not know I should be interrupted. I am perfectly willing to reply to the hon. Member if I can find it. [An HON. MEMBER: "Page 281".] I am very much obliged. I will read it:When the Holy Communion cannot reverently or without great difficulty be"—No, that is not it. [Interruption.] I must apologise to the House for not being able to find it, and I will try and resume the thread of my speech, if I may, because there are two or three important things that I want to mention. Reservation, at any rate in the sense that it has been allowed under safeguards, has existed for a very long period, and all that is being asked now is to make provision that the Reserved Sacrament shall not be used in connection with any service or services. All that is being asked now is, that the Bishops shall, in proper cases, license it exclusively and expressly for sick persons.
I think that the two points with regard to Reservation and Transubstantiation have been the real kernel of the difficulties which many feel. I find it very difficult to see how one can hope in the existing state of things for obedience to all the orders and rubrics in the old Prayer Book. I have already quoted the exhortation which is invariably left out of the Communion Service. I would remind hon. Members of some other things which are not strictly observed. You will find after the Nicene Creed, "Then shall follow the sermon." I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary really thinks that the proper place for the sermon on Sunday is after the Nicene Creed in the Communion Office. I should doubt whether he would be willing to prosecute anyone who omitted to preach the sermon there, or anyone who preached it in another place. There is another thing. The clergy after the Nicene Creed are to read out to the people all the Holy days and fasts. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary would think it was a serious matter if a clergyman neglected to say on the appropriate Sunday, "Next Thursday is the Fast of the Vigil of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary." I think he would think that that was a reason- 1097 able and proper omission. All these things are illegal under the present Book. I find it very difficult to decide in my own mind, when some rules are thus openly broken, with what authority our Bishops could possibly be expected to enforce the remainder. If we get this new Book we shall get an enrichment of services and services of very great variety. You have got a pledge given by the Bishops as honourable men that if there are any illegalities which really may go beyond the Anglican field they will deal and deal seriously with the offenders. I cannot help regarding that as of very great importance. I suppose we have all had letters from individuals or societies suggesting the taking of an extreme line.
There is a vast difference between the points of view of the different opponents to this Measure. I do not share the fears of the Home Secretary and neither do I share the fears of the Bishop of Truro. The hon. Member for Hereford (Sir S. Roberts) quoted a number of clergy who were said to be disloyal and to have signed a manifesto which I think we all deplore. Those men signed the manifesto under the existing order, the old Book. They were law breakers under the old Book. They may be law breakers it is true under the new Book. [AN HON. MEMRER: "They will be!"] I accept that, but what is the position? They are all persons who do not want the new Book, because they believe it will be easier to break the law now with some semblance of justification than it will be to break the law when the new Book has delimited and explained the position clearly. There is a middle course between the two extremes. I believe that the middle course preserves all that is in our faith and makes in our practice and ceremonial changes for the better and adds enrichment and variety to the services. It. is a permissive use. It is accepted by the Church Assembly, and it is supported by the -very powerful advocacy of a number of Free Churchmen. Some of you will have seen a letter in this morning's "Times" in which we learn that not only Dr. Selbie but Dr. Scott-Lidgett and Dr. Garvie and a number of other persons are in favour of this Book and these are the leaders of the free churches who are most in touch with the situation with 1098 regard to christian reunion and who are most near the kernel and heart of things in relation to conferences on that matter. Perhaps some of them have been to Lausanne or have seen and been in daily communication with those who have. They are the people who think it is right to let the Book go through. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Well, that is my view and hon. Members are entitled to contradict it.
I support this Book, because I believe that I am not taking from anybody anything which they possess. You may have in parishes where it is really wanted the old Prayer Book all the time. I am voting for something which I believe is a real blessing to people who need it urgently. I offer to nobody a reproach for their convictions, but I view this matter with a hopeful mind, and I hope with a wide outlook. I would say, in conclusion, on the one question of Reservation alone, believing that sick men get very often the means of grace which they require from Anglican clergy under present rules and practices, that I could not conceive it my duty to go into the Lobby and to deny to sick persons those means of grace when with the safeguards against Reservation which we have that which they want can be given to them, so that their faith may be preserved and the Sacrament made more easy of access to them. It seems to me that if we in this House put hindrances in the way of what honest people believe to be a wider and fuller application of their religion we shall find that we are adopting a narrow view. We shall find that we are adopting the view of driving out instead of roping in. It is against that view to-night that I most earnestly plead.
I do not want to wound any susceptibilities, but I say in all earnestness that we have a chance now to get rid of bitterness and rancour and to join together and try to make the Church Assembly, after all these years, a success. We cannot do it by joining the extreme wings or by joining any small denominational or narrow point of view. I know that these men have the courage of their convictions and I respect them for it, but I do say that it is the broad comprehensiveness of the Book, the enrichment of liturgy which this Book affords, its effort to deal with those whose needs 1099 were not dealt with in the Book of 1662 and who are now brought within its scope; it is that which brings it into present day conditions. It is not mediaevalism, it is common-sense. It is the development of Christianity upon the lines which the Divine Master would wish.
§ Sir WALTER GREAVES-LORD
The hon. Member who has just spoken concluded with a description of what he called the difficulties of the present Book, in a way which almost suggested that. that Book had failed in the light of ordinary life. I cannot help thinking, as one who belongs to neither of the extreme schools of thought in the Church, that there is no religious compilation known to the world which has served the purposes of the centuries so completely and so fully, and has served every moment and every happening of life so fully as the Book of Common Prayer. I venture to think, and I have always thought it, that anyone who would lay hands in any way upon that Book was undertaking a task fraught with the very greatest danger. I think that people of all denominations have realised time after time that there is no situation of life, that there is no anxiety of thought for what that Book does not provide. Therefore, altering it is an extremely delicate task.
On the last occasion, when the Measure was before this House, I voted for it. I did so because, although I doubt very much the wisdom of making alterations in the Book of Common Prayer, I was not myself offended by any of the alterations that were made. To-day. I am not. offended by any of the alterations which have been made in the new Measure to clarify the issues, because that is all that they do, which were involved in the last Book. I did hope, after the Division on the last occasion, that some step would have been taken not merely to clarify the issue, but to try and meet the deep, abiding and conscientious resistance which was put forward by those who opposed the Measure on the last. occasion. I did hope that one would have seen the Church Assembly spending its time not in mere matters of detail and explanation but in a real endeavour to meet those who felt that the Book if passed in its then form and in its then intention, would 1100 be a constant source of distrust to them throughout the whole time that it was used by the Church. What do we find? We find that the Book has been pressed forward through the Church Assembly without any alteration of any kind. We find that it goes through the Church Assembly and through Convocation with a diminishing support and with an increasing opposition. That diminishing support and that increasing opposition is not only reflected in the divisions in the Church Assembly but in Convocation, and it is undoubtedly to be found throughout the country in the views of the great public who, certainly, have shown very definitely that this House interpreted the views of the country when they rejected the Measure.
In order to enforce that statement, I would refer to the report. of the Ecclesiastical Committee, in which such alteration as has been made is very carefully dealt with. There are two paragraphs of particular importance. Paragraph 6 says:So far as the documents submitted are concerned, the Committee have really only had to consider again the objections to the Proposed alteration of the Prayer Book on general Protestant lines. The Prayer Book in its revised form presents certain features, or concessions, such as the limited practice of reservation, the permissive use of the chasuble, of wafer bread and of the mixed chalice, and the use of prayers for the dead, which to um-ompromising Protestant. feeling will certainty be found repugnant. The legality of these practices has long been at least a matter of controversy; if the Measure were to pass the legality could he in controversy no longer.Why is it, those who hold these strong Protestant views may well ask, that this Book is designed to legalise matters of doubtful legality which point in one direction, but is not designed to make illegal those matters which were found to be legal although contrary to the spirit of the Church, and which certainly have offended a great. many people who think that the Settlement of 1662 did not authorise them. The Report goes on to say:It is argued that these practices involve, or may be held to involve, a change of doctrine, and that in an anti-Protestant sense. Obviously, opposition on these grounds cannot be conciliated by concessions on points of detail and explanatory amendments such as are now proposed.It is clear therefore that nothing has been done in the alteration and in the 1101 revision of the Measure to meet the real objection upon which the Measure was defeated when last before this House.
Let us examine some of the demands for the Measure. I think we are right in saying that a very large number of those who supported the Measure on the last occasion, did so not because they thought that these changes, were vital in any way to the Church or to the continuance of the Church, but they were persuaded for the moment that these changes if passed might be in the interests of peace. Others thought that the position would not be continued and would not be intensified. They were perhaps led astray by some of the statements which have been made to other Members of Parliament as well as myself. Some of us in the South of London have received a letter from one whom we all admire and respect, the Bishop of Southwark. In that letter there is a statement which most of us read with dismay, to the effect:I know by first-hand information that very large numbers of those who are opposing this Bill will loyally accept it when it is passed.Most of us who have had a letter in those terms have come to the conclusion that our "first-hand information" is very different to that of the Bishop of Southwark. Let me give the House one short illustration which has impressed me as strongly as anything. It was from a constituent of mine with whom I got into controversy when the Measure was last before the House. He was a man of great learning. He was trained first for the legal profession. In his early years he became an agnostic. Finally, he found his spiritual home in the Church of England, because he took the doctrines of the Church of England as founded upon that Article which says, that the Prayer Book contains and shall riot contain nothing which is repugnant to Holy Scripture. He said to me with full conviction: "If this Revised Book becomes the Book of the Church of England, one of the havens I thought I had found, the one Church I thought I had found whose doctrines were definitely based on the Scriptures, will have been taken from me, because the changes in this Book are not in accord with the Scriptures." Many will differ entirely from that man's view, but it was an honest view, deeply held 1102 and necessary in his opinion to his eternal salvation. Are we going to deal lightly with men who hold views of that kind and who are members of the Church of England?
What is the fear of these men? We have had it clearly and definitely admitted by the Solicitor-General that this Book removes a definite prohibition, the prohibition against Reservation. The hon. and learned Member who has just spoken sought to find some permission for temporary Reservation in the present. Book. I have read through tae Rubrics connected with the Communion Service itself and with the Communion of the Sick, and all I find is a definite prohibition that nothing which is consecrated shall be carried out of the Church but shall be then and there consumed. In those circumstances this revised Book is going to alter what is a definite prohibition. What does that prohibit on mean to those who are offended by it? It means that in their opinion it brings the doctrines and practices of the Church of England so near to a ceremony which is described in another of the Articles of the Church of England that they think it is fraught with the gravest danger and likely to undermine the foundations of the Church itself; that is the Article which declares the Mass to be a blasphemous fable and a dangerous deceit.
They may be right or wrong, but that view is definitely and deeply held by large numbers of the members of the Church of England. It may be that they are in a minority, I am not convinced that they arc, but if they are a minority it is a. very large minority and one which has always been loyal to the Church of England. We are being asked to do something which is going to be an abiding offence against these people, something which may not offend me or many other hon. Members in this House. The Solicitor-General told us that we must not think of ourselves No; and those who do not find this an offence must think of the way it will affect those who do find it an offence to their deepest convictions. I ask this House to regard the matter in that way. On the last occasion when the Division was taken there went up a shout of joy from a r umber of people in the House. I expressed the view that the demonstra- 1103 tion was rather unseemly. I felt no enthusiasm myself. I should have felt no enthusiasm if the Measure had been passed, and I felt no enthusiasm with its defeat. But to resent what took place on the last occasion was rather intolerable and a misconstruction, if one thought of it a little more deeply. It was the unpreventable expression of a pent up feeling of relief and joy by these people that they had escaped a great danger. They had escaped a peril, and human nature being what it is the expression of relief and joy could not be prevented when it took place.
The Solicitor-General has said that we are not to allow our prejudices and predilections to weigh with us in this matter. What is prejudice and predilection? Are we to say that religious convictions, some of us may think they are somewhat intolerant and narrow, which have formed the foundation of the entire Protestant feeling in this country are mere prejudices and predilections?? We know that they are nothing of the kind, but deep-rooted, deep-seated, convictions, and we cannot continue a state of affairs, or assist in trying to bring about a state of affairs, which is going to cause continual pain to those who have these deep convictions. There is just one other argument which I am certain is not held by some of those to whom it has been attributed. In one newspaper I saw a suggestion that the Solicitor-General was going to move the Motion with regard to this Measure because he was one of those who believed that it was better to get it out of the way before the next election. That was unjust to the Solicitor-General, and it was untrue. Anyone who has known the right hon. Gentleman for the length of time that I have has the greatest respect for him, as has every member of his profession; and they would never accuse him of holding that view. But that is the view which is held in some quarters, and we cannot shut our eyes to it. It is a view which has been suggested.
I do not think any considerable number of hon. Members are going to vote because of any such consideration, but, at any rate, there is one thing we can say which will be agreed to by all reasonable people, and by all who deal with this in a right and serious way, that whatever 1104 may be thought of the effect of this upon the next election one way or another any vote given from considerations and unworthy motives of that kind will end in disaster. Just one word in order to express my own position. In the Church every day we offer up prayers for all those who profess to call themselves Christians not only to be led in the way of truth, but that they shall hold the faith and the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. If we authorise in this great Church a ceremony and an act which will be taken by many to be a stumbling block in the way of truth, it will no longer be possible to worship in unity of spirit. Unity of spirit will be unobtainable and the bond of peace broken beyond repair.
Duchess of ATHOLL
As the first Scottish Member to take part in the Debate, I hope that the House bear with me if I approach this great question from a rather different angle ft urn that which has been taken by other speakers this afternoon. I do so because I feel that Scotland has a very definite analogy to offer, some very definite guidance to give us in this matter, and therefore there are some special considerations that I would wish to lay before the House, and before Scottish Members more particularly. le Scotland we all know that we have a Church which is fully as national a Church as the Church of England and which yet enjoys complete spiritual independence, complete independence with regard to worship, discipline, government and large liberty even in regard to doctrine. Therefore, while I should never for one moment seek to deny the right of Scottish Members to vote as Members of Parliament on this great question, yet I venture to submit to them that Scottish Members, remembering their national Church end her great freedom, should think not once but twice before they make it impossible for the sister national Church to obtain a fraction of the liberty that their own Church in Scotland enjoys.
But it may be said that the Church of Scotland has always enjoyed spiritual independence whereas the Church of England has not. We Scottish Members of course remember the magnificent struggle which our national Church made, for more than 100 years, for spiritual independence. We remember how it 1105 secured its position as a national Church under the Act of Union with England in 1707. But we have also to remember that that Act of 1707 secured the Church of Scotland in its position unalterably. It was not until an Act was passed in 1903, dealing with the temporalities of the Free Church of Scotland, that the Church of Scotland had liberty to revise the formula of subscription of her ministers to the Westminster Confession of Faith—her spiritual independence therefore was not complete. Then later, though the Church of Scotland felt that she had all the spiritual independence that she needed for her own work, another Church with which she was entering into negotiations for union, the United Free Church of Scotland, threw doubts on the completeness of her spiritual independence, and therefore another Act of Parliament, passed in 1921, confirmed articles drawn up by the Church of Scotland declaring the spiritual independence which she, in common with the United Free Church of Scotland, so greatly prized. How then can members of a Church whose spiritual independence Parliament has confirmed, how can members of another Church which said to the Church of Scotland, "We are not satisfied with the spiritual independence you claim. We want to see it confirmed by Act of Parliament"?—how an members of both these Churches say to the Church of England, "You are not to have a fraction of the spiritual independence that we so greatly value in Scotland"?
Then, it may be said, "Oh, but while. you have a system of representative government in Scotland by your General Assemblies, the National Assembly of the Church of England is not fully representative." I shall not say much about that, because an hon. Member has already dealt very fully with it. To those who say that sometimes only a small number of electors elect the parochial 'Church council, which is the basis of the representation of the laity in the National Assembly, I reply that sometimes the numbers of electors voting for local public bodies are regrettably small, bit we do not say for that reason that we are not going to pay any attention to what a town council or a county council decides. In each case the body in question is the body recognised by Parliament and set up by Parliament to carry out certain 1106 specific duties, and Parliament recognises its decisions as such. But then we have the question raised, "Is the liberty that the Church of England claims consistent with the principles of the Reformation?" I ask the House just to remind itself of what were the great things that England and Scotland alike gained from the Reformation The first unquestionably was freedom from foreign ecclesiastical rule. That was freedom for the nation to develop its awn form of religious expression. Then there was freedom to use the Bible printed in the vernacular tongue—and an English Prayer Book—which meant the freeing of the English intellect in matters of religion—intellect which before was not free because the services were conducted in a foreign tongue. People were at last free to understand and to reason about the services.
Then there was the wonderful thing that it Was recognised that the true Christian teaching, the teaching of the early Church, was that no human soul was too guilty or too humble to he able to offer IT prayer direct to the Divine Throne without the intermediary of Virgin, saint, or priest. That was the freeing of the spirit, the assertion of the freedom of the soul. Then there naturally followed the removal of abuses which has crusted over the purer and earlier Christian teaching—abuses such a' the belief in purgatory, the necessity for indulgences and so on. The return of the Bible not only swept away those things but brought men back to a simpler theology, to a fuller realisation of the Atonement for sin offered once for all on Calvary. Now the great safeguards of all these priceless gains were, in the first place, the open Bible—the English Bible—the wording of the English Prayer Book, and a service audibly rendered. I venture to say that there is now no attempt to go back on any of these priceless gains. Who talks of closing the Bible? Who talks of a Prayer Book in Latin? As to the wording of the Service, I have done my best in another way to show Members of the House that the changes made in what is the heart of the Prayer Book, the Communion Service, are such as bring it directly into line with the Presbyterian Communion service throughout the world. The Anglican Consecration prayer at present stands alongside die Roman Mass as one of the 1107 two services which have either no invocation to the Holy Spirit to bless the elements or else, as in the case of the Roman Mass, no such invocation clearly expressed.
There is another safeguard to the doctrine in the Communion service which I never saw until two days ago. This Book is so great that it is very difficult to take it all in at once. If you look at the prayer which follows the administration of the Elements to the communicant, you find that that prayer is for the first time preceded by words to be spoken by the clergyman to this effect:Having now by faith received the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, let us pray.For the first time these words are inserted, and they unquestionably lay down that it is only by faith that the sacred Elements are to he taken. I have also endeavoured to show elsewhere that Reservation has been practised for 200 years in the Episcopal Church of Scotland, and that it began at the time when its externals of worship were extremely bare—when, for instance, clergymen wore not a surplice but a black gown. It is also practised in the Church of Scotland, though not in the form of continuous Reservation, and it seems to me unquestionable that, if anybody examines the new Communion service dispassionately and carefully, the position of the Church of England as a. Church which does not accept the doctrine of the bodily Presence is much more clearly defined than in the present Book. Therefore, doctrine is safe, because there is no fear in Reservation unless there be anything in the doctrine of the service to suggest that there is the bodily Presence.
Finally, as to the question of the service being rendered audibly, I wonder if hon. Members have realised that there is in the Book a new rubric requiring the service to be said throughout in an audible manner. That is one of the very definite safeguards of the principles of the Reformation. If we have all these safeguards, the open Bible, the English service, the safeguarding of doctrine, and the audible rendering of the service, what does it matter if the celebrant wears a vestment, or a surplice or a black gown? What does it matter whether the Elements are administered in the form 1108 of wheaten bread or wafers? If I may mention my personal feelings—I do not like vestments—I have hardly ever entered a church where vestments are worn. I also prefer simple bread to the wafer, but I recognise that vestments add to the dignity and the beauty of the service to some people, and who am I that I should stand in the way of something which is helpful to others? In the same way, though I prefer bread to the wafer, I recognise that there is a convenience and orderliness in the use of the wafer, which is more easily divided than bread. I remember also that just for that reason the wafer was used when Communion was administered to our men in the trenches, and I say that what was good enough for our men in the trenches is good enough for us at home.
To suggest that the safeguarding of the principles of the Reformation depends on whether you use vestments or surplice, or bread or wafer—to say to the mother who has prayed for her boy from the cradle to the grave that she is not in that moment when he passes beyond the veil to follow him then with a prayer that he may rest in peace, and that light may shine on him, that. to do so is something that involves the doctrine of purgatory which our forefathers so rightly threw over at the Reformation, is to my mind to insult the intelligence of the English people, and, what is worse, to throw dust in their eyes and dim them to the real values of their spiritual inheritance.
As I see it, one of the things from which the Reformation freed us was fear—fear in spiritual things—fear which, in one form or another, is so potent an influence in the lives of many of us—fear which we can see as we look back through the centuries was then even more potent than now. Fear between man and man is written large in the ruins of fortified castles throughout the land. We are trying to-day to free ourselves from fear as between nation and nation as expressed in armaments, and I think we should all agree that fear has often proved a very unwise guide in our individual actions. I heard it said not long ago, and I thought it was one of the truest things I have ever heard said, that fear is responsible for most of the mistakes, and many of the crimes committed by humanity. When I look at the literature which has been poured in on me, as on all Members 1109 in connection with this matter, I cannot help feeling that most of what is said in opposition to this Book is due to fear, suspicion and distrust. If we agree that fear is at any time a dangerous guide, surely it is more than ever unworthy, when we are discussing the affairs of a Church whose duty it is to teach the perfect love that casteth out fear.
Only two things, it seems to me, a-re good enough to bring to the consideration of this matter. The first is the search for truth—the search for truth which will not be put off with all the wild assertions and sweeping statements that the Mass is to be introduced—statements entirely unsubstantiated. We never see the authors of these statements giving chapter and verse for them, as we who are supporters of the Book have tried to do in regard to our statements. If I may say so to the. hon. Member who has just sat down, when I hold up the lamp of truth to his statement that since December no change has been made in the revised Book to meet the objections of the House of Commons, I wonder if he remembers that the Black Rubric has been inserted at the end of the alternative Communion Service? I feel it is very unfortunate that he was not present two days ago when a leading Nonconformist minister, Dr. Selbie, said he did not think the country had realised the tremendous doctrinal importance of the Black Rubric being inserted at the end of the alternative Communion Service to meet the views expressed in Parliament. He thought the country had not realised the magnitude of this safeguard.
If, as I have said, we approach this question looking only for the truth, we see how unsubstantiated are many of the statements made about it, and the anonymous letters which some of us are receiving, the ribald verses about Bishops making most unworthy suggestions in regard to them, and other literature of that kind, can be appraised at their real value. The other thing which I feel we must try to bring to the consideration of this question is that charity without which, as the beautiful prayer in the Church of England service says, "our doings are nothing worth." When we try to look at the question in this way, whether we are members of the Church of England or not, we see the Church of England as a branch of the great universal Christian Church and we 1110 realise that what is for the strengthening of that blanch must be for the strengthening of the whole, and, therefore, must be something which Christians as a whole, of whatever denomination, should do their best to promote. How can the Church of England carry on her great work wits disorder in her borders such as we know to exist to-day? How can she carry it on with a controversy of this kind raging, and with statements about the Bishops and the clergy being made such as we have seen? Do not let us forget till cardinal fact in this discussion, that 20 years ago a Royal Commission said that the law of worship in the Church of England was too narrow for modern needs, and that there was hardly a church in the land in which the law was being fully kept. The Commission, therefore, said that there must be a revised Prayer Book which would meet modern needs and which the loyalty of the whole. Church could be asked to support.
What will the opponents of the Book do, and how will they deal with disorder in the Church if they throw out the Prayer Book? They say to the supporters of the Book, "How are you going to meet the difficulty of the 2,000 clergy who signed the manifesto which appeared in the newspapers the other day?" The first thing I would say is that that manifesto doe? not contain a statement of what these clergy intend to do, but of what they believe. After all, in this House Ws are accustomed to seeing Members on all sides opposing certain Measures strenuously, hut when a Measure becomes law, those who have opposed it fall into line and obey the law. Why should we suppose that it will be-otherwise with this Measure? They have beliefs and they have principles, and they are entitled to state those beliefs and principles. These advanced Anglo-Catholics have fought strenuously against the Book, and they have fought more strenuously against the Book in its amended form than against the original form. We must hope and pray that if this Book becomes law their loyalty to their Church, their desire to promote unity in their Church, their desire to end a controversy which must weaken their Church, will bring them into line and make them ready to sacrifice something whish they would wish to have for the sake of the good of the Church as a whole. But if the opponents of the 1111 Book succeed in securing a rejection of the Measure, what weapon have they to deal with these clergy and with the much larger body of clergy who support the Measure? The Church says, "This is the instrument that Parliament asked us 20 years ago to 'produce, and it is a Book which appeals to the great central opinion of the Church of England. [HON. MEMBERS: "No! I think the majorities in the National Assembly clearly indicate that. It is a Book which appeals to the moderate Anglo-Catholic, to the Broad Church people and to the Low Church people, because it gives them all something for which they wish. The Bishops, on whom rests the responsibility for enforcing order, say, "This is the instrument that we were asked to produce. This is the instrument we have considered for 20 years, and it is not merely the instrument which we desire, but is the only instrument we see by which we can restore order in the Church and we are prepared to stand by it and to see that the Book is enforced." The opponents of the Book, if they reject it, will have no weapon whatever. They will only have a weakened Episcopate, and a Book which, as has been pointed out, is being kept by no one. If we wish to restore order in the Church there is only one way in which to do it. We have to trust to the men whose business it is to restore order, to take them at their word, to trust and believe that they mean what they say and to hope that many of these clergy who to-day are asking for something more than the Revised Book gives them, will yet show their loyalty to the Church and abide by the Book when it becomes law.
Then I wish to say a few words of a personal nature. The hon. and learned Member for Norwood (Sir W. GreavesLord) ridiculed the idea that the present Prayer Book did not meet the needs of every possible Member of the Church of England. I wish to say that I was brought up in the Episcopal Church of Scotland and confirmed in due course in England, and that if, 18 years ago, the Prayer Book had allowed liberty to omit the Athanasian Creed and the imprecatory Psalms, if there had been more elasticity in the service and prayers to meet more modern needs, and if there had not been the Consecration Prayer, 1112 which seemed to me not clearly to express what I understood to be the doctrine of the Church of England, I doubt if I should have come to feel, as I did at that time of my life, that I should obtain more spiritual help in another Church. That is all I can say personally as to the difference between the Book of Common Prayer, beautiful as it is in many ways, and the Revised Prayer Book which, after 20 years of work, the Church now offers us.
My last word is to Scottish Members. This is not the first time that a national Church has come to Parliament asking for help in setting her house in order. Some 85 years ago the Church of Scotland came to the House of Commons and asked for an inquiry to be set up into the difficulties with which she found herself grappling. That request was refused. Parliament 'would not even look into the difficulties of the Church of Scotland. That action of Parliament was lamentable and was culpable, but at least Parliament had incurred no previous responsibility in the matter, bad known nothing of the difficulties of the Church, and had not suggested to the Church any line of action by which she might solve her difficulties; but here, as we know, what the Church asks us to accept is something which Parliament has asked the Church to do. Therefore, the responsibility resting upon the House of Commons to-day, if it refuses the request of the Church, is something even greater than that which rested upon the Parliament of 1843, which refused to inquire into the difficulties of the Church of Scotland. In 1843, the request of the Church of Scotland was refused, largely owing to the votes of English Members, and I submit to my Scottish colleagues that it would be an honourable—indeed, a glorious—revenge on their part, if to-morrow night they should help the Church of England to secure some small measure of the liberty for which the Church of Scotland so nobly fought, and which we all so greatly prize.
§ Sir MALCOLM MACNAGHTEN
As to many of the things to which the Noble Lady who has just sat down referred, there is no question at all that practically they could obtain almost universal agreement, but the controversy turns upon the Communion Service, and on 1113 that matter the Noble Lady has persuaded herself, and she has apparently persuaded other people, that the alternative Communion Service is really more Protestant than the one Cranmer himself drew up. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Be it so, but if it is more Protestant than Cranmer's Communion Service, why is it introduced at all? Who wants it? The Anglo-Catholics are said to want it. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] The Protestants are said to want it. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Surely, everybody must see—and the Bishop of Gloucester has said it as clearly as anybody—that there are grave objections to having the two Communion Services. I know that the Episcopalian Church of Scotland has two, but obviously it is undesirable.
§ Sir M. MACNAGHTEN
If a Church cannot agree upon its most solemn Service, really it ceases to be a united Church, and it becomes a coalition.
§ Sir M. MACNAGHTEN
The Episcopalian Church of Scotland happens to have, owing to curious historical circumstances, two Communion Services, but surely everybody will agree that it is undesirable to have two Communion Services. If they are really doctrinally the same, I should have thought it would be absolutely certain that it would be desirable to take one or other of them. If, in fact, in this case, the alternative one is the more Protestant, let us have it, but do not let us have two, unless it is absolutely necessary for the purpose of bringing into one Church what are really two discordant sects.
On this occasion, we have the satisfaction of knowing that everybody is agreed that it is not only the right, but the duty, of every Member of this House to. do his best to form his opinion and come to a right decision on this question. That was not the view that was expressed on the previous occasion, nor was it the view that, I think, the Chairman of the House of Laity of the National Assembly expressed after the decision of the House was given last December. It was then 1114 said that the Scottish, Welsh, and Irish Members had no right to take any part in the Debate on a matter in which their constituents could in no way be concerned. The House may be interested to know that in Ulster we put down in our census what is the religious denomination to which we belong, and they may also be interested to know that, according to the census recently taken in Ulster, there are no fewer than 19,000 members of the Church of England in Ulster, and, of those 19,000 members, 1,900 are in my own constituency. It is the fact that this is a question which affects, not only the people of England and the Church of England, but the English-speaking people throughout the whole world. More especially does it concern the Church to which I belong, the Church of Ireland.
The Act of Union united the Church of Ireland with the Church of England, and for 70 years they were a united Church. Disestablished in 1839, the Church of Ireland had to make its constitution and its own declaration of faith. It declared that it would profess the faith of Christ as it had been professed by the primitive Church, that it would bear constant witness against those innovations in doctrine and warship which it had repudiated at the time of the Reformation, and—and here comes the material part from our point of view—that it would maintain communion with those Christian Churches which concurred in the principles of that declaration. If the Church of England does adopt or re-adopt some of the innovations in doctrine and worship which were repudiated at the Reformation, will it be possible for the Church of Ireland to remain in communion with the Church of England? That may not be an important question for the Church of England, but it is an important question for the Church of England; and, indeed, for all the daughter Churches of the Church of England, scattered as they are throughout the British Empire, the question of the English Prayer Book is a question of the very gravest importance. The Church of England is, we say, to-day a national church.
§ Mr. DENNIS HERBERT
Will the hon. and learned Member tell us what are those points of doctrine which make it so difficult for him to remain in communion with the Church of England?
§ Sir M. MACNAGHTEN
Reservation was repudiated and disowned at the time of the Reformation. It was suggested from this Bench this afternoon that Reservation was permitted by the Prayer Book of 1662, or after that, but it is not so. The Reformers knew the dangers of Reservation, and they forbade it absolutely. It is now proposed to allow the mixed chalice and vestments. Why, if this alternative Communion Service is so Protestant, have s the promoters—
§ Sir M. MACNAGHTEN
That is exactly what I say; you are going to have an alternative Service, and you can be Roman at your option.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
If it is optional, who is forcing the Book on the hon. and learned Gentleman and his friends?
§ Sir M. MACNAGHTEN
You are forcing on me a form of Service which will make it optional for members of the Church of England to take the Roman form.
Duchess of ATHOLL
Will the hon. and learned Gentleman deny that vestments and wafers are being used in this country in the present Communion service?
§ Sir M. MACNAGHTEN
They are, and illegally. In the admirable speech of the Solicitor-General, when he asked what are the illegal things which are being legalised, he mentioned wafers as one of them. The Church of England is to-day a national Church, which means that it is the church of the nation, not the church of the Bishop, or the church of the clergy, but of the nation. There was a time when every member of the nation had to he a member of the Church of England, and, with the passing of the Act of Toleration that passed away, and to-day the Church of England is really a voluntary association. But the belief that the Church of England 1116 should be comprehensive is one that will find a response in every heart. I hope that the Church of England could embrace all the people of this country, so that everybody belonging to the Church of England could go and worship in her churches. If this Measure be adopted, can anyone doubt that it will create a serious bar to the joining up of other Protestant Churches with the Church of England? I believe that it will create an absolutely impossible bar. The result of the passing of this Measure will be that, although you may comprehend within the Church of England some persons who otherwise would leave it, you will drive out from the Church a large number of its most loyal adherents, and you will alienate from the Church of England the support of the Nonconformists, which support is necessary for its continued existence. The Church of England is not the Church of the majority of the people of this country, and no national Church can continue to exist unless it either has the majority of the people, or at least claims the support of the majority. Therefore, in order to preserve the Church of England I trust that the House will reject this Measure.
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ Colonel Sir GEORGE COURTHOPE
My hon. and learned Friend who has just spoken has made several statements, one of which I should like to refer to at once. He has expressed a fear that the Church of Ireland will find it impossible to remain in close communion with the Church of England if Reservation of any kind is authorised. Unless I am very wrong in my facts, I believe the Church of Ireland is in communion to-day with at least two Churches in which Reservation and perpetual Reservation have been practised for many years without abuse. Another point to which he referred I shall touch on later, because it was one that has been mentioned by a number of speakers, who have referred to the attempts to bring into the English Church people who believe this, that, and the other. Every speech that has been made against the Measure has been based more or less upon that false view, and the position that the promoters of the Measure wish to bring in people who are now outside. That is not so. The promoters of the Measure wish to set out 1117 the limits within which liberty of action and expression will be authorised among those who are now within the Church of England, and who belong to the Church. I want to refer to that later in its proper place.
For the moment I should like to begin by saying that, like the hon. Baronet the Member for Hereford (Sir S. Roberts), who opened the discussion against the Measure, I am an evangelical churchman, who had the opportunity and advantage of going through the debates on this question in the National Church Assembly, but I have come to other conclusions. I cannot find within the Deposited Book any ground for the fears which have taken so tight a hold upon him, but I find the possibility for the wider expression, which I am quite certain the Church of to-day, particularly the young Church, requires, and an opportunity for restoring within the Church and its Services that discipline which has unquestionably broken down. What do the opponents of the Measure say upon this subject, and upon what do they base their fears? So far as I understand their argument, and I have listened very attentively throughout the day and on many other occasions to the arguments of the opponents of this Measure, they are based upon an expectation that some people, possibly many people, will place upon the Measure an entirely different interpretation than that which is placed upon it by the promoters, and which is officially given by those who are best qualified to interpret a Book of 'Worship of the Church of England, namely, the Archbishops and the Bishops of the Church.
Secondly, their fears are based upon a vague distrust of the Bishops themselves, and a doubt whether they mean business in these matters. I chink it is particularly unworthy of our House of Commons to suggest as an argument against an amendment of the law that it will not be carried out because a number of people are opposed to it. In our daily practice here strenuous fights ore put up by parties, sections and individuals either in definite opposition to Bills or in support of Amendments to Bill; and yet how rarely is any legislation generally disobeyed when once it has reached the Statute Book? It is unseemly that any Member of Parliament should raise such 1118 an. argument against the Bishops, present and future, who will have to carry out any limitations of order and discipline which are imposed by this Measure.
If the opponents of the Measure have their war—and the hon. Member for Coventry (Sir A. Boyd-Carpenter) quite openly advocated this course—all the controversial matter would be left alone. Disorder would continue and extravagant practices would presumably go on unchecked, and perhaps become more extravagant, and the whole work of the Royal Commission of 20 years ago and the strenuous work of the authorities of the Church for 20 years would be wasted. It is futile to suggest that you can deal with controversies and disorders within the Church of England by shirking those factors which are controversial. The whole of the controversial matter, the whole of the disorders, the whole of the extravagances which all moderate men want to snap, hinge, in some way or other, round the Office of Holy Communion. If you leave out the Office of Holy Communion you will leave confusion worse confounded, and you will serve no useful purpose at all. The hon. Member for Hereford (Sir S. Roberts)—I think I have his words accurately, and at least I have them paraphrased—spoke of the Measure sweeping away limits. It is not sweeping away limits; it is setting them up. It is not trying to introduce more extravagant practices; it is laying down a rule as to what is authorised and what is not, so that the extravagant practices which lay outside that fence may be stopped with the general agreement of Church opinion.
I do non believe there will be. any large body of revolt or rebellion within the Church when Parliament sets its seal upon this Measure, which has the support of every authority in the Church. When I say "every authority," I am speaking of Convocation, of the various houses of bishops, clergy and laity and of the Church Assembly. Every one of those authorities has by large majorities asked for this Measure, and when Parliament sets its seal upon it I for one do not believe and I am fairly closely in touch with Church opinion—that there will be any considerable measure of revolt; but I am quite clear that unless Parliament sets its seal upon this Measure and submits it to His Majesty for Royal 1119 Assent the confusion will be worse confounded.
I said just now that what we were really trying to do was to set up the limits of authority. I want to ask the House whether the Church of England could possibly have been right in setting those limits on such narrow lines that they would exclude a very large section of opinion which is now within the Church? Let me remind the House that it is not a question of getting in anyone from outside the Church, but a question dealing only with those who are in the Church. Could it have been right to take action on such narrow lines that the whole of the High Church section was excluded, finding it impossible to remain? Surely not. Remember—and here I speak to my Evangelical friends, I understand their point of view better than the High Church one—that the High Churchman is within the Church just the same as we are. It is his Church as well as ours, and not only is it his Church and our Church; in these controversies we are apt to forget that it is Christ's Church too. We get so keen on the relatively trifling matters of controversy upon which we differ that we are a-pt to lose sight of those far greater Christian principles upon which we are all agreed and from which High and Low alike draw their inspiration. Christ's invitation was not a narrow one. Surely His Church of England should not be narrow either. [Interruption]. That is quite right. I agree with you so long as principles are not involved. Are principles involved?
Surely the question at issue really boils down to the doctrine of Transubstantiation and the Reserved Sacrament. Can anything be more definite than the new rubrics which are in this Measure limiting the use of the Reserved Sacrament; can anything be more definite than the inclusion for the second time of the Black Rubric, which is a declaration against the doctrine of Transubstantiation? Surely everything is done that can be done to prohibit the use in any form of ceremony or service of the Reserved Sacrament for any purpose except the Communion of the Sick. The opponents of the Measure say that that is not enough. Surely the House must realise that it would be an impossible thing for the Church Assembly or for the House 1120 itself to attempt to standardise human imagination or the interpretation of an individual mind. The value of these things depends upon how far they may be human emotions which stir up the individual imagination. You cannot standardise the human mind, and it would be a fatal mistake to attempt to do it. Supposing that some people found that it helped them in their prayers to pray in a church where the Sacrament is reserved. It does not affect me, but we need not grudge this opportunity to other people. Most of us find some set of circumstances help our prayers, some circumstance which makes us feel the presence of the Almighty rather more intimately than at other times. Those are the occasions when we pray most intensely. It may be the wide spaces of a starlight night or the trail of the moon over the proceedings, or the everlasting hills that moves us in that way, but because we pray on those occasions we are not guilty of worshipping the moon or the hilltops.
In some great cities people find it helps them to pray where they know the Consecrated Elements are reserved, and why should we grudge them that opportunity or accuse them of idolatry? Surely we can be content with making it impossible that ceremonial and service of an objectionable kind contrary to the principles of the Reformation and the doctrines laid down by the Church of England should take place. In any case, I cannot believe that the drawbacks of such risks as there may be of individuals placing a wrong interpretation upon these matters are any real balance against the great advantages which the Church of England will gain by getting a greater liberty, a greater latitude of expression and service, and thereby giving the Bishops the opportunity which they seek of restoring and maintaining a reasonable discipline among the clergy.
I am not one of those who hold that there is any restriction upon the rights of the House of Commons in regard to these matters. Every individual Member certainly has a perfect right. But I do suggest to the House that, within eight or nine years of our passing the Enabling Act to give to the Church of England the duty and right, within certain limitations, of managing its own domestic affairs, it would be very inexpedient for 1121 this House to throw out the result of the considered work of that Church in its purely domestic affairs without very much better reasons than any that have been put before us during this Debate. To those Members of the House who belong to other Churches, I would make this appeal, that, as they enjoy freedom from restraint in matters of internal discipline, of doctrine and of order, so they will respect and assist this other branch of Christ's Church, the Church of England, in the earnest and sincere attempt which this Measure represents to set its house in order.
Mr. ROSSLYN MITCHELL.
It is not, I think, inappropriate that, while the House has been discussing a matter of great religious import, it should follow the excellent custom of so many religious associations, and that each speaker should begin with a little word of personal testimony. I have noticed throughout this afternoon's Debate that there has been a desire on the part of each speaker to put himself right with the House, to explain what his origins are, what his association with religion is, and what his ideals are. That is very good, and I think that, whatever may be the result of this controversy, we may all be happy that we have revealed to each other, in the course of these Debates, an aspect of our minds and hearts which otherwise would have been hidden.
I should like, if I may have the indulgence of the House for a moment, to make also a little intimate personal remark, because this House is so much the heart and the bosom of the nation thateverything that we do is discussed with much more acrimonious detail outside than it is inside, and we are apt to be caricatured to the people. May I, for greater clearness, say to hon. Members that I am a Protestant, that I do not apologise for being so, but that I have never been a member of a Protestant Society except for Church purposes, that I have never been at a Protestant meeting, and have never taken part in Protestant propaganda. I am not a proselytizer; I am a very poor controversialist. While holding my own views strongly, I wish all other folk to hold their views strongly. Therefore, while we are all apt to mistake our prejudices for piety, I do hope the House will not think that those of us who differ from the Noble Lady who 1122 spoke on the other side are necessarily ignorant, prejudiced, bigoted fanatics, We are not. If we want to trace the history of bigotry and fanaticism in the world's history, there is just as fruitful a source of historical analogy in the Roman Church as ever there is in the Protestant Churches. I hope, as was suggested by the Solicitor-General, that we shall continue to be searchers after Truth and shall speak those things that we believe to be the Truth fearlessly.
This Book is before us because of lawlessness and chaos in the Church of England. That is the origin of the whole position. Until this afternoon most of us thought the continuance of lawlessness and chaos in the Church of England was due to the fact that the Bishops of the Church of England had not adequate powers to curb that lawlessness and to rearrange the chaos. The Solicitor-General has told us that the Bishops are armed with ample powers to deal with all lawlessness. Then may we ask: Why have they not exercised those powers Why is it that, if they are confronted day by day with grave and gross irregularities which they themselves deplore, they do not pat into operation these powers of temporary suspension, or even of deprivation, which we under stand from the Solicitor-General they already possess. As this Book gives them no other powers than those they already possess, how can it be argued that, if they have not exercised their powers when they had full control and lawlessness was becoming rampant, they will now exercise their powers to curb the same lawlessness as has been rampant before? I cannot follow the hon. and learned Gentleman in his argument that this Book, which gives not one single shred of power to the Bishops, which refers in no way to the authority of the Bishops, which neither arms them with new powers nor extends nor explains their existing powers—I cannot follow the argument that by granting a new Book, the powers which have not been exercised before are going to be exercised now. [Interruption.] My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy), who has already done me the honour of referring to me in his speech, says that they will have the body of church people behind them. But we are told the whole body of church people already trust the 1123 Bishops. If they have that backing behind them and the powers of suspension and deprivation, and are confronted with that which they themselves say threatens the whole existence of the Church of England, why have they not used them? On the contrary, why have they continued to encourage the very practices which they deplore? Why have they continued to appoint to livings men who, because they were members of the same association and society, they knew perfectly well, men whose opinions were so well known to them that they could well forecast what kind of Service was going to be conducted in their church?
Let me take a case. St. Augustine's, Haggerston, has for the patron the Bishop of London. The vicar was nominated by the Bishop of London. His parish magazine for the 28th May contains a Mass calendar. It contains a list of Sacraments and Services. On Sunday we begin with "High Mass." In the evening we have "Evensong and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament." Reservation for the Sick? No. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the very danger that was foreseen by those wise men who prohibited Reservation, because they knew that Reservation was inevitably followed by Adoration. On weekdays, "High Mass with Intercessions and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament." To Reserve the Sacrament is one thing; to Adore the Sacrament is another thing; to intercede through the virtue of the Reserved and Adored Sacrament is another thing altogether. There is no warrant in the history or the Articles of the Church of England for any such practice as is referred to here as Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament or Intercession through the Blessed Sacrament. If the Bishop of London is to be trusted in future to bring order out of chaos, I think the House of Commons is entitled to ask him why he has allowed the chaos to become rampant, without ever having endeavoured by word or deed to check it. He has continued to associate himself, both personally and ecclesiastically, with the very men who are perpetuating and promoting, and inculcating into their parishioners, the very lawless practices which we are now told the Bishops are going to condemn and restrain.
I am prepared willingly to give way to hear any other hon. Member's personal opinion, but I am not prepared to give way for any hon. Member to act as the intermediary and interpreter of the mind of the Bishop of London. Now let us proceed. After Intercessions and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, we have Confession which may be made before any Mass. We have the Corpus Christi in the Mass Calendar with a Special Service of Thanksgiving for the Blessed Sacrament. How in the face of that can the bon. and learned Gentleman come down to the House of Commons, and, on his own personal faith in the Bishop of Londcn, say: "Only pass this Book, and all will be well."
It is hardly, I imagine, the wish of this House that a Member of the House who is not a member of the Church of England should take it upon himself to advise the Bishops of the Church of England how to conduct the affairs of the Church. What we are concerned with is—[Interruption]. The hon. and gallant Member who is so fond of speaking with authority upon every subject, might perhaps allow a more humble Member to speak on a matter in which he is very keenly interested. The hon. Member who spoke last seemed to treat these matters of liturgy and doctrine as of very trifling importance. I differ entirely from that point of view. it seems to me that history points to this, that the recognised religious ritual of the people is the mould in which is east the bronze of national character. Perhaps I might put it in another way, because I know that some of my hon. Friends say that the only matters that are of importance are material and immediate matters. I represent a constituency which is famous all over the world for the manufacture of shawls. There were interwoven into those shawls certain strands which were hardly visible to the naked eye, but the presence of those strands in the warp and woof of the fabric altered not only the pattern but the texture. It seems to me that the recognised religious point of view of a people is like one of those golden strands which, without being very prominent, 1125 nevertheless affect the pattern of the nation's mind and the texture of the national life. That is why I am so keen about this Book.
The Church of England is different from any other Church. The Church of England is really a sort of representative Church of the whole people of England. It is not a case simply of cities in which you can go from one street to another if you do not like the church you are attending. In so many of the small towns and villages of England there is only one church and there is only one school, and if it be the case that the vicar of that church, who is a very important person in the school, takes the Anglo-Catholic view of this Book and teaches the children in that village certain doctrines and inculcates in their minds certain practices which are entirely antagonistic to the point of view of their parents, those children must either continue to go to receive that instruction which their parents detest, or they must be excluded altogether. It is a very important thing. The only reason why the establishment of the Church of England is acquiesced in by the people of England is that in doctrine and outlook the Church of England has remained fundamentally Protestant.
I do not want to go into niggling details. I take the instinct of the British nation. When did it first become the habit of the men and women of England to apologise for the Reformation? When did it become a sign of disgrace and a sign of the underworld that a man should say: "I am a Protestant"? What has happened to the temperament and outlook of the members of the Church of England which formerly taught boys as they passed through St. Stephen's Chapel to look with reverence and awe on the statue of John Hampden, when their history books used to be full of the stories of the heroes and the martyrs, when England, not Scotland, used to be held up to the world as the bulwark of Protestantism? When did it happen that that changed in England? It is very important that the Church of England should remain fundamentally the expression of the religious instincts, traditions, and ideals of 1126 the English people. Cardinal Manning, speaking in Westminster in 1859, said:It is good for us to be here in England. It is yours, right reverend fathers, to subjugate and subdue the mind and break the will of an Imperial race, a will which, as the will of Rome of old, rules over nations and peoples, invincible and inflexible. It is the head of Protestantism, the centre of its movements and the stronghold of its power. Weakened in England, Protestanis paralysed everywhere. Conquered in England, it is conquered throughout the world. Once overthrown here it is but a war of detail.I shall endeavour to establish to this House that this Book is an outward sign of an inward movement which was established a ad exists for no other purpose than the overthrow of Protestantism in England. What are the differences? The headship of the Vicar of Rome, the right of private judgment, and a belief in Transubstantiation. In a long and erudite speech the hon. and learned Member for Flint (Mr. G. Roberts) gave the House a description of the various kinds of beliefs in the Real Presence. May I take him on his own ground? He said that there were beliefs which recognised Transubstantiation. Some people believe in it who did not define it. Some define it as a real, actual, physical, corporeal Presence, and there are the Consubstantionists, who believe that it exists along—side the Elements. There are others—I have net been able to confirm the list—such as the Receptionists who, speaking genes ally, do not believe that the Presence is in the Elements, but in the receiver of the Elements; the Virtualists, who believe that it is not in fact a Presence but a virtue; the Zwinglians, who use it in a figurative sense, "This is my body," in the same way as the Lord said, "I am the door," and the Commemorationists, who are Protestants and members ,of my own community. There is only one of these in which the practice of Reservation and Adoration and Intercession is practised. If, therefore, we have an exhaustive list of all the conceptions of the Real Presence in the Sacrament. and we find that there is only one in which Reservation and Adoration and Intercession are applied, and we find Reservation in the new Book, and we find Adoration in the practice of the Church, and we find Intercession in the practice of many of the Churches, then surely those who are promoting the Book, with Reservation, have in their minds at any rate that interpretation of the 1127 Real Presence to which alone Reservation and Adoration and Intercession properly apply.
§ Mr. GOODMAN ROBERTS
I am reluctant to interrupt, but this is a very important matter. I would like to know from the hon. Member whether he says that the provision of Reservation for the sick, under proper safeguards against Adoration, necessarily implies the doctrine of Transubstantiation and of corporeal Presence opposed to the doctrine of spiritual Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament which is adopted by the Anglican Church?
I do not want to go into a liturgical controversy on the Floor of the House. [Interruption.] If the House is willing, I am prepared to answer that question. I do not ask the House to accept my authority. I ask the House to accept the authority of some of the most learned ecclesiastical authorities in the country, who say that, except for the belief in the Transubstantiation of the elements from the substance of bread and wine into the substance of the Body and Blood of the Lord, Reservation has no meaning whatsoever. Moreover, if the hon. Gentleman in his question to me is so careful to say, "Under proper and satisfactory safeguards," does he not recognise that he is dealing with a very dangerous subject Does he not recognise that if he requires so many serious, straight, strict, safeguards against the abuse, those who made it an irregularity and illegality in the Church were doing it to prevent those very abuses which he himself foresees? No, that will not do. But let me go on. I should say that until quite recent years people regarded the position of the Church of England as absolutely irrefragable on the question of the Protestant witness. What then? There began in the Church of England a movement, and, while we are directly concerned here with a Book, we have to recognise that that Book represents a movement. I shall not ask the House to accept my word for anything. I shall give to the House the words of the people who founded and promoted the movement:It existed for the purpose of restoring to the Church of England the doctrines and practices which were thrown over at the Reformation.1128 It began with the Tractarian movement. In this House, in 1848, Robert Shiel, when speaking on the Jewish Disabilities Bill, warned the Church of England when he said:The Church of England may have something to fear from the assault of sectaries from without, and still more to fear from a sort of spurious Popery and the machinations of mitred mutiny from with in.The Secretary of the Anglo-Catholic movement, speaking in 1923 at their Congress, said:The Anglo-Catholic movement started as a rebellion. It is now a successful revolution patronized by half the bench of Bishops."—the very bench of Bishops who are going to administer this Book. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for South-East Leeds (Sir H. Slesser), speaking in December, said that the object was slowly—very slowly, and mile by mile—to take hack and regain those treasures, those benefits of religious life and devotion which we think were wantonly sacrificed in the time of the Sixth Edward.'' [OFFICIAL. REPORT, 15th December, 1927, col. 2602; Vol. 211.]The author of the standard work on the Anglo-Catholic movement says:Every good Catholic must long for the reunion of the Church of England with the Mother Church of Rome. We do not glory in, rather we repudiate the name of Protestant.The Anglo-Catholic movement, says Dr. Langford James:Is the most wonderful movement that the Church has ever witnessed. The vastness of the change which it has made in the English Church as a result of re—calling it to the forgotten first principles of its life and being, is known to everyone.What is it that they are re-calling us to? To the doctrines and the practices of the Church of Rome before the Reformation. One hon. Member—I am sorry I cannot remember which—spoke about one of the achievements of Reformation being the right of private judgment. Listen to the teaching of the authority of the Anglo-Catholic movement:If a man thinks that what he finds in the New Testament is inconsistent with what he observes to be the faith or practice of the Church, let him not imagine that he knows better than the Church. Let him submit his private judgment to the practice of the Church, for private judgment leads to schism.They have restored the Mass and they have restored the vestments. Surely hon. 1129 Members know that in ecclesiastical affairs there is a vast significance in vestments. Mention was made of the chasuble with a click of the fingers as if it did not matter. The chasuble is a garment which consists of one piece in which there is only a hole. It is put over the head of John Smith, the Minister, and, when it is over his head, he ceases to be John Smith the Minister and becomes a sacrificial priest. It is the clothing of him with the power to make not a Communion or Intercession or Remembrance, but a Sacrifice. It is himself putting himself on the Cross, and, as he is going to shed his blood figuratively, he puts a napkin round his arm in order that he may figuratively catch the drops. That is what is the meaning of vestments, and, while the congregation may not know that, the priest knows it. The man who is hoping for this Book in order that he may he able to wear it knows it, and he is going to show the significance of it to the children and bring them up, as he is doing now in his literature, to recognise that the Sacrament is no longer a commemorative ceremony in the Church of England but a definite Sacrifice. That is contrary entirely to the teachings of the Church of England. It is for these people that this Book is being brought forward. The Archbishops and Bishops have not brought it forward to placate the Evangelicals in the Church of England. They have not brought it forward to meet any agitation on the part of the Modernists.
The letters of business which were granted because of the demand on the part of the Anglo-Catholic ritualists for an extension of their powers to follow illegal doctrines and practices. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Hon. Members say they are not illegal practices, and one hon. Gentleman has said that Reservation has always been the practice in the Church of England. In the Lambert decision in the cause of the Reverend T. E. Hill, the Reverend A. S. Markham and the Reverend Edgar Leigh, Reservation was divided into three parts, namely, immediate Reservation for a special case of sickness; Reservation 1130 for a prospective case of slickness, and perpetual Reservation, and everyone was condemned as illegal according to the Church of England. Are we going to have our children brought up in this practice? Here is a little book published by the Society of St. Peter and St. Paid, publishers to the Church of England. It is called "A Prayer Book for Little Children." It is published by the very people who have been responsible for the change in doctrine in this Book. It says here:In Communion, bread and wine are put on the altar and the priest says as Jesus did, This is My Body and this is My Blood,' and Jesus Himself is then present on the altar. What is there looks like bread and wine still, but it is rot bread and wing. It is the Body and the Blood of Jesus Christ.There is a picture of a priest vested in a chasuble holding up a wafer to the Cross, contrary entirely to the law of the Church of England. On the next page there is a picture of the priest giving Communion to the little children, and it tells them if they are ill they should wait and listen so that they may hear the bell when Jesus comes to the Consecration.
§ Sir BASIL PETO
Will the hon. Member tell us why it is that the people who practise these things object to the Book and are not going to vote for it?
§ 11.0 p.m.
There are two reasons why Anglo-Catholics are not going to vote for this Book. One is that they rese it the House of Commons having given a decision contrary to their will. They resent the interference of the House of Commons in any matter concerning their doctrine and practice. The other reason is that in the other Book there was omitted a declaration of the Black Rubric but it is contained in this Book. [HON. M1MBERS "Hear, hear!"] While that is so, it does not mean that those who are carrying out these practices cannot continue to do as they have been 1131 doing. Let us see what they can do. They can consecrate the wafer, they can put it in an aumbry, they can decorate the aumbry, they can have a receptacle in front of it for candles, they can place it in a church, in a place where people worship, they can swing a lamp in front of it to draw the attention of the worshippers to the fact that it is there. It was my habit for a long time to enter, in the early morning, a little church near my home, and they put up an aumbry arid a little red light, and while it is of no significance save to myself, I used to go into that place in the early morning for a few minutes' meditation before setting out to the world of affairs. That red light in front of that little tabernacle exercised a sort of hypnotic influence on me, a lawyer about to go to business. What is it going to do to the young people, the adolescents, sensitive people, boys and girls, when they go into a church? It is going to do that. The whole tendency is towards Rome. The emphasis is towards Rome. I know it is not all the way. It is only a milestone, but a milestone connotes a journey from somewhere to somewhere. It connotes a journey, this one not from Lambeth to Bedford, but from St. Paul's to St. Peter's.
There are other milestones. One was covered up, the Malines milestone, in which the Papacy was recognised, in which Transubstantiation was declared; and the other milestone has been given us to-night and is in all our minds—the declaration of 2,229 of the priests of the Church of England that, no matter what we do here, they are going to hold and, if they hold, promote the doctrine of the complete Transubstantiation. I cannot possibly regard this as anything but a definite trend of emphasis for a change in the doctrine and practice of the Church of England as a Protestant Church to the Church of England as a Catholic Church, and a Roman Catholic Church. To-morrow the House has to make a very definite and deliberate decision, and to-morrow is a day not without significance in the history of this country. Two hundred and eighty-three years ago to-morrow there was fought the Battle of Naseby, and I pray God that the deliberations and decision of this House 1132 to-morrow may be guided as I believe the decision of that conflict was guided then. I am, personally, the most Catholic soul alive, but I am not Roman Catholic, and I do not want the Church of England to become Roman Catholic. If it does, its existence as an Established Church becomes impossible. If we do not pass this Book, there may be a secession; if we do pass this Book, there may be a disruption, and the Church of England may be. left no longer as a national Church, but simply as a sect, and it cannot continue to exist as an Established Church if it remains a priestly sect instead of the expression of the religious views and instincts of the people. Therefore, if the Book is passed and that disruption takes place, the good people of England will sweep away the Establishment, and the Church of England will be worse off than ever it has been before.
§ Mr. AMMON
Anybody looking on this Debate to-day must have been impressed by the fact that they have seen the British House of Commons at its best, in that it has been possible for us to discuss so many delicate and important matters and spiritual affairs in a tone and temper and an atmosphere that would do credit to any assembly in the world. One can indeed not wonder, when one reflects on these things, knowing our shortcomings and limitations, that foreigners find it somewhat hard to understand us. I want just to try and bring the House to a. consideration of exactly what is involved in this discussion; we have a little longer time to discuss these matters so that we might get down to the real solid substance, to the real bones of the question upon which this House is called upon to give judgment. Like my hon. Friend who has just spoken, I am not a member of the Church of England. I venture to take the position, as I explained on the last occasion, of asserting my right, as a Member of this House, to express my opinion with regard to this matter, believing that I have a responsibility imposed on me, which I am not going to shirk because it may be unpalatable, but that I have to face it and endeavour to voice my opinion, and the opinion of those with whom I am concerned. I was charged with the responsibility by you, Sir, and this House, as a member of the 1133 Ecclesiastical Committee, to go into this matter with some care and attention; and as a, member of that Committee I was further charged with the privilege and responsibility of being appointed one of the small sub-committee of four persons to go into the problem, and draw up the Report that was presented to Parliament in December last. As I then said, I entered upon these duties as a Nonconformist, with a certain predisposition against the very Book which I am asking the House to pass. I remember walking down from the other place, after the subcommittee had been appointed, with a member of that sub-committee, and I remarked to him, "I suppose our business is that we must see that this Book in no way infringes the rights and privileges of the Constitution of this country and of His Majesty's subjects." To which he replied, I am willing to find it if possible." With that predisposition, after going into the matter, I was compelled to give judgment in favour of the Book that it in no wise endangered those rights and privileges.
I am to a certain extent reluctant to enter into the Debate this time and I am not going to shirk saying that I felt a certain amount of awkwardness after the Malines Conversations were published soon after the last decision. Neither do I wish to minimise the fact that certain utterances, which I think have been foolish, have not in any way made easier the path of some of us. But in spite of all this I still keep a tight grip on myself and remember that, prejudiced as I may feel about these things, my duty is to subordinate those prejudices and endeavour to arrive at a fair and equitable decision. We are not going to do that by stirring up prejudices and reviving century old controversies, and by stirring up barren discussions on matters long since dead, bringing them into a world totally different from that in which they were discussed originally. The country then had a population far less than that of London at this time, and the questions were nearer in history arid associations than they are to-day. Opinions were embittered by associations, persecutions and misunderstandings such as we have no conception of.
We hear considerable talk about the Conference at Malines, but, after all, 1134 that wa3 an unofficial conference. It was the sort of conference with which everyone of us has been associated, to which we have gone with a sort of watching brier to see how certain things with which w3 are concerned are likely to be influenced or affected. To me as an outsider there was no more in it than that. But the Conference at Lausanne, about which we have heard so little, was entirely a different proposition. It originated first of all in the City of Edinburgh in 1911 and was held in Lausanne in 1927, and the Church of England was officially represented there with all the Protestant churches throughout the length and breadth of the world, in an endeavour to find ways and means by which they could cooperate and work together for the advancement of those efforts of faith and order in which we are all concerned.
I said the Churches all over the world. Lausanne will be reckoned as being perhaps the biggest step towards unity since the split in Christendom in the Middle Ages. That is the Conference at which we have to look, and that is the matter with which we are concerned. May I ask hon. Members to reflect upon what it is we have to consider? I ask them to turn to page 5, paragraph 6, of the Report of the Ecclesiastical Committee. The Committee say:The Committee have really only had to consider again the objections to the proposed alteration of the Prayer Book on general Protestant lines.It would be as well if the House for a moment gave some thought to the position of the Ecclesiastical Committee. It was not appointed for this special work, it has been in existence for a long time, for as long as this Parliament has been in Session, and had not the slightest suspicion that this Book would even come to it for consideration. It is composed of men of all sorts of opinions, both theological and doctrinal. They considered this question, and they have delivered their verdict as members of a body so composed. What is it? In page 6, paragraph 7, they say:The Committee would not recommend any interrerence with the decisions of the Church Arsembly on matters so clearly lying 1135 within the province of that Assembly as the doctrines and ceremonial of the Church, unless persuaded that any proposed change of doctrine were of so vital a description as materially to alter the' general character of the National Church as recognised in the Act of Settlement and by the oath sworn by His Majesty at his Coronation, whereby His Majesty has promised to maintain the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law.That is the proposition they set out. Their finding is this:The Ecclesiastical Committee after careful consideration reported that in their view the Measure of 1927 did not appear to affect prejudicially the constitutional rights of His Majesty's subjects, and were of opinion that it should proceed.They have again carefully considered the present revised Measure in the light of what has since taken place, and of the representations now received; they see no reason to depart from the conclusion at which they then arrived, and they desire to report in the same sense.We have a Prayer Book which in its main features is 400 years old. Surely while one does pay great tribute to the foresight and the spiritual power of the Book, which has stood the test of all that long period of years, can anyone deny our right to revise it in a world which is so different scholastically, geographically, in matters of faith, and in all directions? Really it is an entirely different world, and we need different guidance in many directions in regard to these matters. I have no desire to come into antagonism with anybody connected with this new move of a particular section of the Church, but I would remind hon. Members that what we are dealing with is a duty which Parliament has imposed upon the Church itself. The Enabling Act imposed upon the Church of England the duty of putting their own house in order, and also imposed upon them a larger measure of self-government.
The Royal Commissions of 1904 and 1906 were charged to inquire into certain allegations and complaints. Arising out of that inquiry we got the Enabling Act and the result is the Book now before us. That Report has already been quoted, but in view of the danger that it may be submerged by things which have no relation to the question we are considering, I will quote it again:The law of public worship in the Church of England is too narrow for the present 1136 generation. The machinery for discipline has broken down.That is the reason why we are called upon to consider these matters, and the Church of England simply asks us to give them the authority to go on with the work which we have committed to their charge. A great deal of the objection raised in the discus-son in December last has been met by the new Revised Book, and if I had any doubt on that score it has been confirmed by the fact that I am not supported on this occasion by the hon. and learned Member for South-East Leeds (Sir H. Slesser), who has expressed himself to the effect that on this occasion he must either abstain or vote against this Measure because the school of thought to which he is attached is opposed to it. I prefer to heed the fears expressed by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South-East Leeds and by a distinguished clergyman of my acquaintance, who told me with sorrow that we were now on opposite sides because he could not support this Book because it deprived him of rights and practices which he had hitherto enjoyed, to those of my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley. I ask the House to regard that as something of importance. This does show definitely there is an attempt to grapple with the problem. Surely, it does not mean that, to get a Prayer Book acceptable to the Church of England, we are to ask that there should be a dead level of uniformity of practice in the Church. such as is not observed in any other Church.
I have a considerable acquaintance with the Churches of Nonconformity, and I venture to say, although there are people here who are more distinguished in Nonconformity than I am, they will agree one can hardly go into two churches of the same denomination which follow exactly the same kind of service and order in their public worship, and very much the same is true in this present connection. The Church of England is seeking that there may be unity of spirit while there may be variety of practice; and, so long as that practice does not go outside the boundaries laid down for our Protestant and Reformed faith, but allows liberty to men and women to find comfort and consolation for their spiritual needs in the way that they think best, I am bound to say that I for one am not prepared to 1137 deny it to them. There are many things in the Book to which I object, and there are things in the former Book to which I objected; the fact that I object to them is no reason why I should reek to set limitations to the desire of other people to seek counsel and spiritual comfort, so long as I am convinced, as the Ecclesiastical Committee is convinced, that nothing is done in any way to impair the rights and privileges of His Majesty's subjects.
I have two other references to make. My hon. Friend the Member for Paisley (Mr. Rosslyn Mitchell) has said that there is no authority within this Book. That brings us to a very delicate question of honour between men. In ordinary business life we are always prepared to accept the pledged word of any gentleman as his bond, unless and until we find that he does not stand by it. This Book seeks to set, and does set, boundaries, as I understand it, far short of practices which are being carried out already in the Church of England, and for the first time it gives to the Bishops moral authority to enforce obedience to the provisions laid down in this Book. That is an entire contradiction of all that my hon. Friend has said, and is actually specifically provided for in the Book. Therefore the Bishops and the Ecclesiastical authorities will grapple with this problem from an entirely different point of view from that from which they have been able to do so in the past. There will now be laid down specifically, with the approval of Parliament, certain limitations within which they must operate, and which they have given their pledge that they will see carried out. The Archbishop of Canterbury has said:You may take it from me as absolutely certain that the Bishops will require obedience, and will do their utmost to secure it.I ask any fair-minded man, honestly and squarely, no matter how prejudiced he might be, to say what more has anyone the right to ask than a pledge such as that. I say, further, that we are almost in honour bound, in the face of that pledge, to show that we trust these people, and will trust them, to carry it out as far as they can can. The Archbishop and the Bishops, I believe with one exception, have promised that they will do this. As I would accept the word of my hon. Friend the Member for 1138 Paisley ii he gave me his pledge, at any rate until there was some occasion for doing otherwise, so I ask him, with regard to this, to act in the same spirit. I beg that the House will not do anything to repeal the mistake that was made when the Church to which I belong was driven horn the Church of England. That is something for which both bodies have suffered in years past. Do not let us repeat that mistake, but let us remember that the Church of England, like our Constitution, like out monarchical system of government, is very much in the nature of a compromise, and that it endeavours to gather up and focus different lines of opinion. Let us remember that, knowing at heart that we are all trying to steer towards the same end.
My life has been devoted largely to a struggle to gain freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom in every way, both with regard to public life and religious liberties. I appeal to my party that from our history and everything we stand for that we are the last party in the world who can turn down a Book like this. The Church is struggling to put its own house in order. The Book is asked for by an overwhelming majority of moderate opinion in the Church, bath laity and clergy, and we have no right to do anything to limit them in that matter.
The house is late and there are many other things I desire to say, but I will leave then unsaid. It has been suggested that it may be put on a very low plane. It is said we do not want this sort of thing brought down to the ruck of political controversy. I want to put it on something very much higher than that. Many of us recognise that the welfare of this or any other nation does not depend wholly on political or economic considerations. We all recognise that there is a greater appeal—the great moral and spiritual impulses within us. We are passing through great changes. Old traditions, customs, and prejudices are being challenged and brought to the test. At a time like this we cannot afford to divide those forces that are striving and struggling to lead the world and the coming generation along path; which will lead to a bigger and wider understanding of the principles of life. Because I believe the passing of this Measure will give to a 1139 great regiment of the Christian army the possibility to mobilise and organise their forces, and help to wage war on all those things which I and others are up against, and all those great enemies of faith and social, political, moral, and spiritual things—because I believe that throwing this out will plunge us into barren controversy and prevent us going forward, I ask the House very seriously to consider and, instead of rejecting it, say, "We give you this chance, we accept your word and we wish you Godspeed in the work to which you have set your hand."
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned," put, and agreed to.—[Viscount, Curzon.]
§ Debate to he resumed To-morrow.