§ Debate resumed (according to Order) on the Motion of the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury to resolve, That in accordance with the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act, 1919, this House do direct that the Prayer Book Measure, 192—, be presented to His Majesty for the Royal Assent.
THE LORD BISHOP OF DURHAM
My Lords, this debate, memorable both for the importance of its occasion and for the quality of the speeches that it has evoked, now draws to a conclusion, and your Lordships must shortly make up your minds what vote you will give on the Resolution which the most rev. Primate has moved. I desire, in the few observations which I shall inflict upon you this afternoon, to make as clear as I can what I apprehend to be the essential issue at stake, to clear away certain misconceptions which seem to have a 924 place in some of your Lordships' minds, if possible to restore a true perspective in which the question may be seen, and to persuade you, if I can, that it is your plain duty to pass the Resolution that is before the House.
First I must detain your Lordships for a few moments while I clear up what I will take leave to call a little private business, before I advance to my main object. I was really distressed to think that a sentence in an Edinburgh Review article of mine should be felt by the noble Marquess opposite as if it suggested some lack of regard or respect for octogenarians. I do beg the noble Marquess to believe that nothing could possibly be more remote from my intention and my desire than to convey any such impression, and I would beg him to notice that the passage from which he quoted drew a sharp distinction between Evangelicals and the Evangelical party. For the first I have no other sentiments than those of respect and regard. The latter seems to be less respect worthy. Yet in the most critical mood I do not desire for that party anything worse than a keener interest in the things of the mind, and a more adequate sense of humour.
Your Lordships will remember that the noble and learned Lord who immediately followed the most rev. Primate referred at some length, and with much emphasis, to a phrase which I had employed in making a speech in the Church Assembly. When speaking of the agitation which had been organised against the revised Prayer Book, I said that the Protestant underworld is deeply stirred. To my amazement, these words were understood as if I had described all the opponents of the revised Prayer Book as members of the underworld. The Solicitor-General, in the Church Assembly—and the Solicitor-General might be expected to know what words commonly mean—assumed this, and rebuked me with almost pontifical solemnity. I disclaimed his interpretation as emphatically as I could, and I said that by "Protestant underworld" I had in mind such persons as those who had actually shouted down the Archbishop of Canterbury in a public meeting, and that I would never dream of placing Sir Thomas Inskip and his friends in that limbo. None the less the noble and learned Lord has repeated the 925 misunderstanding in your Lordships' House, and added to it a very weighty censure of his own. I ask your Lordships what in common speech is meant by "underworld"? We mean, do we not, that stratum of society in which the conventions on which society itself is built are not respected, and when we carry the matter over into the ecclesiastical sphere, what we mean is that section of the religious world which does not respect the conventions on which controversy proceeds, and alone can reasonably and rightly proceed among Christian men?
Does anybody deny that such an underworld exists? Does any one deny that it is potent? Does anybody deny that it has been extremely active in this controversy about the revised Prayer Book? The noble and learned Lord told your Lordships that he had seen no abuse of the Archbishops. Let me then refresh his memory by such documents as these. I will make a selection of one from the bundle which I hold in my hand. They are printed with such care, on such good paper, and have been circulated so extensively, that it would appear that there is very ample money at the disposal of this underworld. It begins:The anti-Protestant Prayer Book fathered—pardon me, your Grace—by the silly Archbishop of Canterbury and—pardon me, your Grace—the pompous, swelled headed Archbishop of York … and the renegade Bishops, is an insult to the common sense of the nation. If these dishonest Romanisers who take the pay of the Protestant Reformed Church of England are so in love with the Popish antichrist why do they not go over to Rome? In 1662, 2,000 of our glorious Puritan forefathers, for conscience sake, left the Church and became Nonconformists. They were honest men. Anglo-Catholicism is roguery, rascality and lying, it is Jesuitism. Prayers for the dead means the introduction of Purgatory"—and so forth; but much of it so ribald, so blasphemous and so gross that I would not insult the ears of any of your Lordships. Now that is the underworld and that has been prolific of literature during the last few months. It is the resuscitation in the twentieth century of the famous scurrilous literature known as the Marprelate tracts in the latter end of the sixteenth century.
926 The noble and learned Lord tells us he never reads such things as those. He has acquired in his Parliamentary experience in another place the happy device of casting forthwith unread into the waste-paper basket all productions from the underworld. Well, then, he is hardly an authority on the literature that emerges therefrom. But Bishops are somewhat differently placed. We have not followed and cannot follow his example. It is our duty, however painful, to pay attention to all sorts and conditions of men, for whatever may be the position of Members of Parliament the position of a Bishop is that he is not a partisan and must administer equal justice and consideration to all sections of the community. The noble and learned Lord said, with a minatory ring in his voice, that the phrase "the Protestant underworld" would long be remembered, would never be forgotten. I rejoice to hear it. I hope it will be remembered and repeated so long as that underworld is a factor in our public life and, I will add, as long as eminent lawyers and ecclesiastics can be found to avail themselves of its assistance and to accept its dishonouring homage.
The Bishop of Norwich describes himself as "a sparrow sitting alone on the housetop." In that situation undoubtedly the bird is well placed for taking a view of the adjacent country. But if it would know what is going on in the house itself or gathering about its portals, he must descend from that lofty perch. Does his Lordship really know what is going on in his own diocese? Has he ever visited the parish church of Walsingham? His affectation, which is very common in this debate, of speaking as if there were a calm, pacified contented state of affairs in the Church and nation, and that these troublesome Archbishops and Bishops had suddenly broken into that calm with an unneeded and unwarrantable interference in the form of the revised Prayer Book, is absolutely and ridiculously fictional. The whole reason why this revision was undertaken is that the situation in the Church and nation had become such that weighty voices from many parts declared that it had become literally intolerable, and Parliament so acceded to this view that the great Royal Commission was appointed 927 and the whole course of events was set in action which has matured in our debates to-night.
Neither the Bishop of Norwich nor the Bishop of Birmingham, to take two of the leading protagonists against this Book, has had, if I mistake not, any parochial experience and even my friend the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Worcester has a parochial experience, I believe, confined to a City church; and I do think when we come to consider a Book which deals directly with the practical working of the Church of England we should remember that parochial or pastoral experience is a very valuable qualification for being able to bring a sound judgment to bear upon it. My right rev. brother the Bishop of Norwich is fond of describing himself as a "neophyte in controversy." I hope he will forgive me if I tell him that when he does so, when he uses the language of aloofness, it rather reminds me of those uncontaminated aborigines who, when suddenly brought into contact with Europeans, contract with speed and in severe form their distinctive and deadly vices. For indeed no adept in controversy could surpass this neophyte in the skill and effectiveness of his controversy. He has indeed, I think, coined a new method; at least, it is unknown to my experience. He will write to a paper—shall we say the Daily Mail?—an article clear and telling, conveying statements which are hotly contested, suggestions which are much resented, and then at the bottom will put in italics that no correspondence will be entered into with regard to this and that his Lordship proposes to leave it alone without defence. This method of controversy with limited liability is, I submit to your Lordships, undoubtedly convenient. It enables a controversialist to inflict the greatest possible injury on his opponents with the least possible controversial risk to himself.
Well, opposition to a revised Prayer Book is inevitable. Look for a moment at the history of the previous revisions of this famous Book. In 1549 the appearance of the Book was followed by risings in Devonshire and Norfolk. In 1558 a long conflict with the Puritans was inaugurated, and after a brief interval the Roman Catholics seceded. In 1662 scarcely had the Book been brought into operation before Black Bartholomew was 928 written into our ecclesiastical annals, and the Church of England was impoverished by the loss of 2,000 of its devout Puritanic members. As I was listening to Lord Carson yesterday I reflected to myself that if he had been living in the sixteenth or seventeenth century there would have been no Prayer Book at all for him to idealize in the twentieth, because he would have been a Die-hard for the old venerated system which it was proposed to change.
Examine for a moment what the position is. There are four Bishops—four out of 43, for the number of Bishops is now 43, having been considerably increased since the revision—there are 4 Bishops out of the whole number of 43 in opposition; and of those 4 one, the Bishop of Exeter, recognising the finality of the Church's decision, declines to pursue the opposition any further. And are the other three agreed? Oh no. The Bishop of Norwich has his point of view, the Bishop of Worcester his and the Bishop of Birmingham his. When we come to consider the clerical opposition, we find that it may without impropriety be said to consist of the three tails of the three parties of the Church of England—High Church, Low Church, and the Modernist or Broad Church.
I listened with great respect to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Carson, and with respect to him and to the noble Lord who I understand will follow me in this debate, I venture to point out that to an astonishing degree the opposition emanates from Ireland and from Irishmen. I have the greatest possible respect and regard for Ireland; but I say without any fear of contradiction by anybody who is acquainted with our ecclesiastical history that Irish precedents are the very worst guides for English Churchmen, and that Irish history is so inflamed and embittered when it comes to ecclesiastical questions that I despair of getting an unprejudiced judgment in regard to such questions from an Irishman whoever he may be.
Since the Royal Commission stated the reasons for revision in 1906 twenty years have slipped away and those reasons have been immensely strengthened. Consider two new factors. Consider the new dominance of Labour. One of the greatest authorities on the period of the 929 Reformation was the late Mr. Brewer. Mr. Brewer wrote these very remarkable words in a book published in 1884:—So long as the middle classes remain the governing body and main power in the nation, so long will the Church of England remain as the representative of their religious peculiarities and convictions, their plain good sense"—and so forth.It is only when political power shall have been transferred to new hands and new classes shall have supplanted the old that the Church of England will cease to be their exclusive representative, or the rigid exponent of the Reformation. Only then will it be called upon to modify its teaching and enlarge its sympathies.I will not develop that because time presses and I have much to say in a very short time, but I ask your Lordships to bear it in mind.
The other fact to which the most rev. Primate referred in his great opening speech, is the effect of the War. I want to call your attention to two effects of the War which his Grace did not particularise—the disgust of insularity and the disgust of uniformity. All classes which went through that terrific conflict and realised the impotence of a divided Christianity to impose any restraint on the fell and fatal passions of disordered nationalism, came back with a deep repugnance in their minds to anything which limited and nationalised Christianity—the great harmonising and reconciling force. That temper has had a wonderful effect upon the whole way in which Prayer Book revision has been carried through. When the Bishop of Norwich emphasises, as he is wont to do, the English, the specifically English side of the Prayer Book, the old Prayer Book, when he tells us that our revision may be more in accordance with Greek precedents, more in accordance in some ways with the Western but less in accordance with the narrower English tradition, he is in point of fact just emphasising those very features of the Church of England which the masses of our men, especially our younger men, are eager to be able to be rid of. Out of all this impatience of insularity, out of this disgust at uniformity, there has been gradually arising in many minds, more clearly as those minds are informed, educated and balanced, a picture of a Catholic Church not pinched within the bondage of a cruel intolerance, as my 930 Roman Catholic friends will forgive me for saying the great Roman Church of the West is, but a genuinely Catholic Church which stretches its claim as wide as the religion of Jesus Christ and claims to use and make its own every element which is validly contained within the great Christian tradition.
The third thing that has happened is this, and it concerns what is gathered up conveniently in the term Modernism. The Prayer Book as we have it, by the very beauty of its English, by the very power of its associations, screens from us the fact that underlying it there are the limitations and the ideas of a pre-scientific and pre-critical epoch. Again and again, if you will study this Revised Book, you must see that it is a modernised Book in the best sense of the word; that is to say, that it does give expression, cautious, critical, but honest expression, to what is genuinely described as scientific and gives no place to mere theories which have no better claim than the fact that they are new.
Several objections have been raised to this Book in the course of the debate, and I will enumerate them briefly to your Lordships. The first objection is the omission of the Black Rubric from the alternative order of Holy Communion. This objection has been adequately met, in my judgment, by the speeches of the noble Earl, Lord Beauchamp, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Phillimore. Whatever may be needed will, I have no doubt, be supplied by the most rev. Prelate the Archbishop of York, who is to conclude the debate. The second objection is that under the revised rubrics the prayer for the King can be omitted in public worship. The chance of such omission is really so slight as to be negligible. It was certainly never intended that any such omission should be possible. I speak for all my brethren when I say that we have been deeply impressed by the anxiety on this point expressed by many of your Lordships. We shall give particular attention to this matter and we will make sure that the King is prayed for in all the public services of the Church.
The third objection has reference to the treatment of the Holy Communion and especially to the new canon as to reservation. I will not argue these matters now because they are largely technical and the assurance of the experts, as Lord 931 Dawson of Penn, in an admirable speech last night, called the Bishops (I hope your Lordships will not regard that as an extravagant claim) ought to have weight. May I remind you of a few words from one of the greatest of Anglican authorities, Richard Hooker?In matters of God, to set down a form of public prayer, a solemn confession of the articles of Christian faith, rites and ceremonies meet for the exercise of religion: it were unnatural not to think the pastors and bishops of our souls a great deal more fit, than men of secular trades and callings: howbeit, when all which the wisdom of all sorts can do is done for devising of laws in the Church, it is the general consent of all which giveth them the form and vigour of laws.I do not know whether your Lordships resent that. I do not think that Richard Hooker has ever been accused in English circles of being a sacerdotalist or of pitching the claims of the hierarchy too high, but I submit that you have the excellent assurance of his Grace and Bishops and of many eminent scholars of the Church of England, that there is no change of sacramental doctrine in the new order, that it is nearer to the ancient order of the Church than the present Book, and that you need be under no apprehension whatever on that account.
The next objection which I have noticed was the non-representative character of the Church Assembly. Some words of mine were quoted and the noble and learned Lord was good enough to quote figures which I recognised at once as coming from one of my speeches. I put it to your Lordships that an unrepresentative Assembly may at particular junctures for particular purposes be more truly an exponent of the national mind than even a representative Chamber. Your Lordships' House again and again has been a much truer exponent of the mind of the nation than the representative House, and that is what I shall be prepared to claim on this occasion for the Church Assembly. It is confessedly representative, not of the nation but of the Church. "The Church" has been defined for this purpose. It is those who under the Enabling Act have placed themselves on the registers of parochial electors. Out of a nation of 36,000,000 there are 3,500,000 in round numbers who are so enrolled. The Church Assembly represents that 3,500,000. It does not claim or pretend to represent the 932 36,000,000. Confessedly it represents the churchgoer and the communicant, and inasmuch as all the serious objections to the Revised Book have to do with the Holy Communion, I respectfully submit to your Lordships that it is not altogether unfitting that the voice of the communicants should be dominant in the handling of that Order. What it lacks is, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Carson, said, the authority of the masses of the people. But what authority do the masses of the people give to a Communion order?
THE LORD BISHOP OF DURHAM
Undoubtedly the Communion order does not represent the opinion of the masses of the English people, but it does represent the opinion of the communicants and the mass of churchgoers, and that, I venture with all respect to submit, is the important matter. Then the Church Assembly does not stand alone. There are the diocesan conferences, there is the public Press, and there are our own observations. I take leave to say to your Lordships with the fullest conviction, that I have never known so general, so intelligent and so persistent an approval amongst Church people as I have observed in regard to this matter. And, as to the Enabling Act, when Parliament passes an Act it does not do so without meaning what the Act implies. The Enabling Act was passed in order to confer a limited autonomy on the Church of England. This Enabling Act, then, is to be borne steadily in mind when we consider the kind of claim which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Carson, in his interruption just now, made. What Parliament asks is not, Does this Book represent the mind of the masses but, first, is it really representative of the mind of the Church of England and, secondly, does it conflict with the constitutional rights or cardinal interests of the nation? It is with that latter question that your Lordships are concerned here to-night. We do not embark upon detailed discussion of the religious, ceremonial and ritual determinations in the Book. It would be improper because, with the greatest respect to your Lordships' House, I cannot think that your Lordships are qualified for that task. Therefore I think we must leave them out of discussion.
933 Again, the Revised Prayer Book, we are told, would hinder good relations with non-Episcopal Churches. I think, without making an undue claim for myself, I probably have a better right than any one of my brethren to speak on this matter. It is no less than twenty-five years ago when, as a young canon of Westminster, I preached a course of sermons on reunion in the great Anglican Churches. Those sermons were subsequently published. They brought me into close contact with the leaders of the great Nonconformist Churches and of that great sister Church north of the Tweed of which some of your Lordships profess membership, and I say without any hesitation whatever that the passing of this Book will not injure relations with the Nonconformist and the non-Episcopalian, but if Parliament rejected this Book and the Church of England acquiesced in that rejection, that certainly would.
We are told there is no reasonable hope that discipline will be restored. I should be lacking in candour if I gave your Lordships the impression that I cherish any very exaggerated hopes as to the immediate results which will follow from the legalising of this Book. I do not believe it can work a sudden or dramatic change in the situation. I am not naturally optimistic, and I dislike making a prophecy, but I believe that if this Book be legalised the foundation will have been laid for the restoration of discipline in the near future. I believe that if this Book be legalised it will create the indispensable condition under which, and under which alone, such restoration of discipline is possible and the absence of which, as the Royal Commission stated, has hitherto made discipline impossible. I mean the support of the general conscience of the Church of England. It will remove many leading ambiguities, it will clothe the rubrics with the recent and plenary authority of the Church itself; it will enable us to apply for the first time a really satisfactory standard of Anglican loyalty to the Church. The lawless section, I believe, is very small and, in the long run and sooner perhaps than many of us think, the general opinion of the Church, even apart from coercive action, which will no doubt be the last resort, will have the effect of purging the Church 934 of England of those elements which justly and rightly could be called disorderly.
What are, then, the last objections with which I shall trouble your Lordships? Hardship, we are told, would be inflicted on the minority of the clergy by the passing of this Measure. What are the rights of a minority in a self-governing society? I apprehend that they are two. A minority has a right to be fully heard and to have its objections fairly considered and, next, it has a right to have its interests as far as possible guarded in any change in its position that the majority may make. Take the figures of all the opponent clergy constituting the minority. Take them at their own exaggerated estimate, and they hardly amount to more than one in six of the clergy of the Church of England. On what principle of representative or democratic government is that fraction to be allowed to hold up indefinitely the desire to make changes in the system of the Church? The noble and learned Lord instanced the ninth clause of the Measure as involving some hardship to the clergy. But no change in the law can be made without such a clause as that, and the hardship involved is really inseparable from the situation of every citizen in a civilised society. Does the noble and learned Lord press the claim of the small minority of clergy who oppose revision to the length of asserting for them an absolute veto of any change? Does an equitable consideration of minorities reasonably extend to conferring on them a right to hold up all legislation for ever?
Complete unanimity is rarely attainable in this world. Must you never alter your system until you have achieved universal agreement in the change. Why do Parliaments legislate? Why was the Enabling Act passed? There has been too much exaggeration in these discussions, too much picturing of hypothetical evils which have no real probability whatever. The consequences of this Book have been amazingly exaggerated. As I listened to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Carson, as he indulged his sombre imagination and drew with dramatic eloquence a fearful picture of a legalised anarchy in distressed and perplexed parishes, I reflected to myself, knowing what I do as to what is actually going on in the parishes and as to what the Book does, that I should be greatly amazed if within 935 a year or two of the passing of this Book people up and down the country are not saying "What on earth is all the fuss about?" There is no real change, for no incumbent can be compelled to use this Book. These heated controversialists will go on just as before quite undisturbed, if only they obey the law.
Most of the changes which are made in the Book are already made, for it is the singular character of this Book that it mainly consists of legalising an existing procedure. The most hotly debated things in the Book, like reservation, will never come under congregational notice because they refer generally to the private duties of the parish clergyman, such as administration of the Holy Communion to the sick and dying. Then no parish can be compelled without remedy to accept changes against its will—a most far-reaching, I had almost said a most revolutionary provision. You give statutory right to the parishioners to be able to insist that their voices shall be heard in determining the procedure within the law in the parish church, and the Bishop has no choice under the Measure: on their request he must inquire, he must adjudicate, and every parishioner has no longer to depend on the good sense, wisdom, and fair play of his parish priest, but also on these qualities as belonging also to his Bishop. Where, then, are the materials for this dread crisis? As reasonable men gathered for a purpose of the utmost gravity and called upon to exercise your highest legislative functions on a grave matter affecting the Church, you must accept the inevitable consequences.
It is not to raise a bogey, it is not to utter a threat, it is only as one man desiring to direct his own course reasonably appealing to reasonable men to act reasonably, that I ask your Lordships to act responsibly in view of the certain consequences of your action. The Church of England seeks the authority of Parliament for the revised Book. Why does it do that? Solely because it is established. So far as the Church itself is concerned the Book has already received complete validity, but as an Established Church there is properly and rightly the need of Parliamentary sanction. In the year 1881 one of the most venerated Anglicans whom many of your Lordships will have known, Dean Church, uttered words 936 which I desire with your permission to endorse. Dean Church said:—Churchmen believe the Church to be a religious society as much so as a congregational society, as much so as the Roman Catholic body. It has also become in England an Established Church: but it has not therefore ceased to be a religious society, with principles and laws of its own. We have inherited an anomalous state of things in which the logical inconsistencies show the traces of our keen and repeated struggles; but, like other Englishmen, we put up with many anomalies which have come down to us.Your vote to-night will raise clearly and unmistakably the issue of what establishment means.
What is the great assumption on which establishment must proceed if it be compatible with the self-respect of a living Church? It must proceed on the assumption that it expresses the good will of the nation towards the Church, the fact that the nation, the State, really believes that the Christian Church is a valuable element in the State and that it is an assistance to the work of the State itself. I will quote to you the words of the great philosopher, Coleridge, that—Even terrestrial charts may not be made without celestial observations.That is the assumption on which the establishment stands. The Church of England, through its united hierarchy, through the overwhelming majority of its representative body, through the undoubted general opinion of its members in the exercise of their recently conferred constitutional powers, comes before your Lordships' House and asks you to give your consent to this Measure which it feels to be indispensable for the efficiency of its work. How can it be supposed, if you reject this appeal, that that great governing assumption of the Established Church can any longer be postulated?
These are difficult days for Churches. In the East a storm has arisen which for the time has prostrated the famous national Church of Russia. That storm blows westward. In every European country and not least in our own, there are those who would like to repeat and extend at home the apostacy of Russia. Is this a time for hindering and hampering the work of the Christian Church? Here in this revised Book is an instrument which the Church of England through her constitutional organs declares to be indispensable to her efficiency. Can your Lordships justify a 937 refusal to concede her demand? The Church of England asks of your Lordships nothing more than justice—one of the greatest words of human intercourse, but in this strange world more often the confession of an ideal than the record of an experience, and yet always going home to the best elements in true men. Justice is the greatest tradition of your Lordships' House and when the Church of England stands at your bar and asks for justice, I will not believe that that appeal can be in vain.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE DUCHY OF LANCASTER (LORD CUSHENDUN)
My Lords, before making any reference to the very eloquent rhetorical portions of the speech of the right rev. Prelate to which we have just listened, I should like, if I may, respectfully to thank him for his opening words; not that I personally am touched by his reference to octogenarians, but because I know that his words caused pain, and I think it is good that he should explain that his desire for the party to which he referred in the Church is only that they should acquire a more adequate sense of humour. I cannot help thinking that a good deal of misunderstanding and possibly pain might have been avoided if the right rev. Prelate had thought it right at a very much earlier period than this to explain that his reference to octogenarians had no meaning except that he was trying to be funny. In the same way I feel greatly relieved by what he said about the "Protestant underworld," because I felt a great apprehension that when I rose in your Lordships' House I might be under the stigma which the right rev. Prelate has cast upon the Protestant underworld to which I should feel no shame to belong. But he has now explained to us that the Protestant underworld only means people who do not understand the conventions on which controversy proceeds among Christian men. I should have thought that this was rather an elaborate definition of an underworld, but I am quite willing to accept it.
I confess that, although I have been condemned by the right rev. Prelate in advance as an Irishman, this may possibly be my reason for finding some difficulty in understanding the particular brand of the Bishop's humour. For example—this also may be humour—I hold in my hand an article written in a 938 newspaper a good many months ago by the right rev. Prelate, in which, among other striking things, he says, referring to the opposition to this legislation, which was then in its early stages:—Some hundreds of elderly incumbents hitherto unknown to fame have abandoned their parochial duties in order to preach a crusade.I do not know quite what were the particular offences that it was intended to condemn. These people were elderly, they were unknown to fame, and they had abandoned their parochial duties. While always open to correction on the ground of not in understanding humour, I should have said that this showed that, in the view of the right rev. Prelate, if you are young, if you keep in the limelight, you may have a hearing, but otherwise you are not to be considered in relation to a serious subject like this. As for abandoning parochial duties, unless I am very much mistaken the right rev. Prelate himself has found occasions to be outside his diocese in the course of the last six months during which this controversy has proceeded.
Then the right rev. Prelate sums up the matter in these words concerning the opposition:—There is much fervour, much wire-pulling and much money in the businessWhat did the right rev. Prelate mean by that insinuation "much money in the business"?
§ LORD CUSHENDUN
I do not know whether it had any meaning at all or whether it was only a further exercise in humour. He continued:——"but little reason and less charity.I do not know whether the reason and the charity have been supplied from the Episcopal Bench since that article was written, but in view of what is there said I might as well at the outset give an assurance to your Lordships that, so far as I am concerned, there is no money in it. I expect no pecuniary advantage from the attitude which I conscientiously take up—not even so much as payment for a newspaper article.
I do not think that the right rev. Prelate, in spite of the great eloquence of his address to your Lordships—no one appreciated it more than I did—did very much to touch the actual practical points upon which disagreement has displayed 939 itself in these debates. Take the representative character of the Assembly, to which the right rev. Prelate referred. I remember very well when the debates took place in Parliament which brought the Assembly into existence. It was brought into existence immediately after the War, in a Parliament which was entirely pre-occupied with other things and at a moment when public opinion in the country gave it not even a passing thought. Even in that Parliament some of us felt a good deal of misgiving, but that misgiving was largely removed by assurances that were received as to the scope of the Assembly which was to be set up. We were told, first of all, that it would leave the authority of Parliament entirely unimpaired. That has been confirmed by the most rev. Primate in introducing this Motion. We were told that it was intended to provide the machinery that was needed for removing practical abuses in the Church with which Parliament had no time to deal—matters like the law of dilapidations, traffic in advowsons and so forth.
I should like to recall to your Lordships' memory in this connection the words that were used in your Lordships' House by the most rev. Primate himself when introducing the Bill which set up the Assembly. He said:—May I say at once, in order to clear the ground, that we are not dealing at all with deeper spiritual things? Doctrines of our faith, the duties of the Christian ministry, the help we can render publicly or privately to the souls of men—these are spiritual fundamental things, the very essence of our work, and with them we are not dealing directly, or I think hardly even indirectly, in this Bill in any way. We are speaking here of the framework, the outer secular rules, within which our work has to be done.It is quite true that in the most rev. Primate's speech there were other passages which certainly leave it open to the Assembly to carry this present proposal without incurring any sort of charge of breach of faith, but the words that I have just read were quoted in the House of Commons when that Bill was before us and they certainly made a very deep impression, not only upon myself but upon many others at that time.
I do suggest that it is a pity, now that we are told that these proposals have been in contemplation for more than twenty years, that when the Enabling 940 Act was before Parliament, so far as I can recollect, no hint was given that this particular egg was then in the incubator. For that reason, I do seriously suggest—I do not say it is improper—that there is ground of complaint that without further notice and further public discussion the Assembly has been used for this purpose. After all, we in the political world are acquainted with the doctrine of mandate. It is true that you may easily press that doctrine of mandate too far, but no one, I think, can say that these proposals, far-reaching as they are, were under discussion in the country or were really present to the minds of the electors—very narrow constituencies as they are—who returned the present Assembly.
My noble friend Lord Carson referred yesterday to the history of the disestablishment of the Irish Church. On that occasion Mr. Gladstone brought into Parliament a series of Resolutions, which were fully debated in Parliament and were followed by a General Election. Although it is true that the House of Commons has very little time for these matters, I suggest that it would have been a wise course if the most rev. Primate had introduced in this House Resolutions covering the grounds of the present proposal, which might then have been fully discussed by your Lordships and the Press, and better understood by the public at large. If the Assembly, as I suggest, is utterly unrepresentative—about as representative as were the Cornish boroughs before 1832, when half a dozen electors sent two members to Parliament—it is still more true of the diocesan conferences. A London incumbent, writing in The Times only last week, and not in relation to the present controversy, but in order to urge the importance of securing more signatures to the parochial electors rolls, wrote as follows:—In many parishes the names entered are far fewer than the Easter communicants, and it is not uncommon for the roll to contain less than one-thirtieth of the population.When we are so constantly reminded of the so-called overwhelming majorities, or imposing majorities, in these conferences, let me remind your Lordships that the whole aggregated numbers of those who voted in all the conferences put together only amounted to a negligible handful 941 of the laity of the Church, and the right rev. Prelate when referring to points made by Lord Carson—I will not say that he was very careful not to, because it may have been an oversight, but he did not make any reply to one point that my noble and learned friend made yesterday, when he called attention to a petition signed by over 200,000 adult members of the Church, and asked what had been done with that petition. No answer has been forthcoming, although that number is infinitely larger than all the combined, majorities, about which we have heard so much, in the conferences.
Another point upon which a great deal of stress has been laid is the so-called permissive use. The right rev. Prelate who has just spoken again emphasised the alleged fact that this use is permissive, and another right rev. Prelate, the Bishop of London, said some little time ago that the ordinary simple worshipper, if he did love the old Book and a sufficient number of fellow worshippers agreed with him, could stick to the old Book, and therefore had not got a grievance either way. I cannot imagine where this idea comes from. There is not a sign of it in the Measure. In the Measure the permission is purely clerical. The laity have nothing whatever to do with it, with this single exception, that they may object. The permission is given to the incumbent. He has complete discretion under Clause 1 of the Measure. Under Clause 2 the laity, through the council, are given the right to raise an objection, apparently. At any rate if any questions arise—and these are the only words which appear in the Measure—between the incumbent and the council, they stand ipso facto referred to the Bishop. The Bishop has no obligation to decide one way or the other, and a very large number of people think that in nine cases out of ten, if questions arise between the incumbent and the council, the decision of the Bishop is much more likely to be with the incumbent than with the council.
What is to be the case of a very important section of English Church life? In cathedrals and colleges, unless I am very much mistaken, there is nothing corresponding to the parochial council, and therefore even that shadowy right to raise an objection to the proceedings of the incumbent has no application to 942 the great cathedrals and college churches of the country. It is a pure illusion to imagine that the laity are given in this respect any right whatever. Unfortunately, although they are given no rights and no means of securing that the services in their parish church shall be such as they have been accustomed to and have loved, there probably is just enough in this Measure to ensure that there shall be bitter strife in every parish in the country. The strife will begin when any incumbent is appointed. There will be parties in the parish—those for the old Book and those for the new. They will go to the new incumbent and try to find out his wishes, and try to influence his decision. Probably, human nature being what it is, it means intrigue in every parish in the country, beginning with the appointment of the incumbent and going on to the election of the parochial council.
Of course, although the parochial council, as I have said, is impotent, it may be desired by a certain section of the parish to raise a question which will go to the Bishop. Therefore these matters will take the place of ordinary administrative matters, and will cause bitter strife throughout the parish. The real fact of the matter is that the principle of local option, even if it were a genuine option, is entirely out of place in matters of this sort. You cannot have local option between two Books which inculcate quite different—I will not say doctrines, because that has been denied, but different emphasis of religious idea, and one of which, to any ordinary, plain reader appears to condemn as blasphemy the tenets and the practices enjoined by the other. You cannot have local option together with unity; the two are self-contradictory. And that surely becomes of vital importance when we remember that the local option in this case is a local option about the most fundamental matters of religion.
I am dealing now entirely with one particular phase of the objection to this new Book. I do not believe that there is any serious objection except to the now Communion Service, and it is to that that I am really confining my remarks. I noticed that The Times this morning, in its leading article on the debates which have taken place, summed up the matter by saying that the twenty-one years that have elapsed since the Royal Commission 943 have "done nothing to make seventeenth-century regulations more applicable to twentieth-century needs." Well, that is no doubt true; they have not. But the point that divides us is this: we who object to these proposals cannot think that the way to bring seventeenth-century regulations up to twentieth-century needs is to go back to the sixteenth century. We can very well understand expressions which are used about coming abreast of the times and being up to date, but it is a most reactionary manner of becoming up to date to go from the seventeenth century to the sixteenth in order to get the tone of mind and of belief which is required in the twentieth century.
It is the greatest mistake to suppose that it is necessary to be a theologian or a learned student of Anglican doctrine in order to understand the objections which we hold to the new Communion Service. No one who has more than the most superficial knowledge of English history in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries can possibly fail to appreciate from the historical standpoint, and even the theological standpoint, the significance of the issue which is here involved. What the opponents of the Deposited Prayer Book feel, and I think are justified in feeling, is that the alternative Communion Service in effect restores doctrine which it was the main purpose of the Reformation to repudiate. Not merely was it incidentally repudiated by the Reformation, but it was the main purpose of the Reformation to repudiate it. I know, of course, that that proposition has been controverted with much show of scholarship, but if any of your Lordships, without going into very deep regions of historical study, would read, for example, that extremely fully documented treatise on this subject by Professor Alison Phillips, whom I have known for many years, and whom I know to be one of the most scholarly, and in these matters one of the most impartial, of living historians, I do not think you would doubt (I will not put the case too high) that in the proposition which I have laid down there is at all events solid ground to go upon.
We believe—and this is why we feel so strongly—that the work of the reformers will be undermined by the alternative service, and we find that that idea is really confirmed by most prominent 944 supporters of the new Book. Thus, the Bishop of London. The Bishop of London has recommended this new Book to the Anglo-Catholic clergy on a great many grounds. To begin with, the very fact that he tells them that it gives them all they have fought for for forty years makes it very difficult for me to understand, though most anxious to do so, how the most rev. Primate can possibly come to your Lordships' House and tell us, as he did in that beautiful address the day before yesterday, that nothing very particular is occurring beyond a change of emphasis, a change of colour, and that there is no real fundamental change at all. Yet the Bishop of London says the new Book gives everything which the Anglo-Catholics have fought for for forty years. All I can say is that if the most rev. Primate gives a really full and accurate account of what is being done, then the Anglo-Catholics must have been fighting for very little for the last forty years.
The Bishop of London says to the Anglo-Catholics that, among the other things which this new Book will give them, it restores the canon which was broken at the Reformation. Well, precisely. But everyone who has given any thought to this matter at all knows perfectly well that as a mere, plain historic fact the canon was broken up and was rearranged by the reformers for the express object—for no other object, indeed—of emphasising the Protestant interpretation of the Sacrament. And therefore it is only a logical conclusion that if it is to be, as it is by the Book, restored, surely it must necessarily mean that the doctrine is restored which was repudiated when the canon was broken up. And I suppose it must have been the same thought that was in the mind of a clerical speaker the other day at the Canterbury Diocesan Conference, when he said that "what is happening is that we are getting back some of the things that we lost at the dusty spring-cleaning of the Reformation." If that is so, it appears to me to be a very full and ample justification for the line that we are now taking.
This reversion to pre-Reformation doctrines finds its strongest emphasis in the legalisation, for the first time since the Reformation, of the practice of reserving the elements in the Holy Communion. I have no intention of enlarging 945 upon the grounds on which that objection is held. I think it is fairly well understood by all your Lordships who have given any thought to the subject, and I should certainly very much prefer not to discuss it at this point. But it is noteworthy that the authors and supporters of the new Book recognise that the practice of reservation is open to very grave dangers. I do not know whether it is realised how clearly that is recognised by leading supporters of the Book. I think the most rev. Primate himself candidly acknowledged that at one time he would have preferred to leave that provision out of this Book, and he intimated that he is very much alive to the dangers.
Let me call your Lordships' attention to an article in the current number of the Nineteenth Century and After by Dr. Percy Dearmer, which has been thought of sufficient importance in this controversy to be reprinted and circulated, I suppose, to all members of your Lordships' House; at all events, it came unsolicited to me. Dr. Percy Dearmer, who is a strong supporter of the Deposited Book, writes with regard to the various devotions which are sometimes said either to, or in the neighbourhood, of the reserved Sacrament, that "they are irregularities which seem to be subversive of the Christian religion." That is a stronger phrase than I should have thought it right to use myself, though I certainly would be sorry to dissent from it. It is recognised on all hands that these abuses occur at the present time though it is not agreed to what extent they occur. It is also agreed that the sanctioning of reservation must necessarily enlarge the opportunities for these abuses which, I repeat, are said by this rev. gentleman, Dr. Dearmer, to be irregularities which seem to be subversive of the Christian religion.
I wish that the most rev. Prelate who is to close this debate would relieve our minds to some extent by telling us exactly how those dangers are to be avoided when this Book comes into force, especially bearing in mind, what of course is well known to him, that a large and influential body of the clergy who are specially clamorous for reservation value it only because of these abuses, acknowledge that they do, and have pledged themselves that when those abuses are made easier by the sanctioning of reservation 946 they intend to band themselves together and support each other in defying the Bishop and any discipline that may be brought to bear upon them. We are often told in this connection that the great reason which makes this revision of the Prayer Book necessary is the restoration of order in the Church. We have often heard from episcopal and other speakers among your Lordships, as if it were an accepted axiom, that for the last twenty or thirty years, it may be more, the Bishops have been hopelessly unable to restore order or to assert their authority. It has never been explained to your Lordships what is the source of that impotence on the part of the Bishops. Why is it? Why are they, and why have they been, totally unable to assert their authority in the Church? Have they ever tried?
We have had quotations from a deliverance made twenty years ago by the episcopal head of the Church as to the drastic action which was there and then to be carried out. It has never been explained to us up to this moment what attempts, if any, were made to restore order. May I submit this to your Lordships' House? I do not know of any public service or any branch of public life in which it would be tolerated for one moment that a large body of officials of that service could defy the law and defy their own superior authority without promptly suffering dismissal. We have been told that the Bishops could do nothing to restore order. Had they come to Parliament twenty years ago—it would not have required a long piece of legislation—and said: "We find that the law is systematically violated throughout the country in the churches of the Established Church; we find it impossible to reassert our authority and to make the law obeyed, and we are powerless because we find that owing to an antiquated law the clergy of the Church can entrench themselves in freeholds where they can snap their fingers at their Bishops," I am confident that Parliament would not have hesitated to give the necessary power to the Bishops.
By exercising the power so given to pronounce sentence of deprivation in suitable cases, without any resort to imprisonment or prosecution of the kind which has brought all that procedure to a scandal, the Bishops could easily have restored order in the Church and reasserted their 947 authority within six months. They could do that now. There is no suggestion that this Measure will give them any power. It has already been brought to your Lordships attention that they will have no more power after it is law than they had before. All they had to do was to put a single clause into the Measure which is now before your Lordships and we should have had some sort of assurance at all events, where now we have none, that they were prepared to deal with those irregularities which one of their prominent defenders says may be subversive of the Christian religion. Is it reasonable that the Church and the country should ask in such a case as that, which appears to me, if I may use the language without impropriety, almost to be gambling with the Christian religion, for a slightly more binding assurance than the vague, but I have no doubt the most well-intentioned optimism of the Episcopal Bench?
We are often told that in this matter, and generally with regard to these proposals, we ought to trust the Bishops. I am bound to say, because there is no use our debating these things here unless we speak plainly, that I think there is a very widespread distrust of the Bishops—in many particulars great distrust—and I am not altogether surprised. I think that in some ways they have not taken sufficient care to dispel the distrust. There are incidents that happen from time to time which give rise to the gravest misgiving. I do not know whether your Lordships have had your attention called to an account which appeared recently in several newspapers, among others The Church Times (which is very sympathetic to that school of religious thought) giving the description of a service of dedication of a building in the parish of St. Albans. I want to remind your Lordships of the general tone of the service that took place on that occasion. We are told to begin with that the Bishop was accompanied by an attendant who strewed ashes on the floor of the church on two lines crossing each other. Then there was a long service and the Bishop proceeded to consecrate the holy oil, and bless the incense, and having censed the altar himself handed the thurible to a priest, who continued the censing while the Bishop anointed with holy oil the five crosses made with holy water on the altars earlier in the ceremony. Returning to the high altar, the Bishop once again 948 sprinkled holy water, and with his own hand placed five grains of incense on the places where he had made the five crosses, and on those he added crosses of wax and, having set a light to them, the smoke from the incense ascended in fifteen different places, five from each altar.
I am not one of those who have any particular objection to matters of ritual. I do not object in any way to incense except that I dislike the smell of it, but the general tone of the service so described can hardly, I think, be accepted as thoroughly accordant with what is usually believed to be a reformed and Protestant service. But the most remarkable part of this very remarkable service and ceremony was the very first item in the programme. To begin with the Bishop called out "Open, open, open," and the deacon having thrown open the doors the Bishop with his staff traced a cross on the threshold and said—I call your Lordships' attention to this part of the religious ceremony:—Behold the sign of the Cross; flee all ye spirits of evil.It is really necessary to remind your Lordships that this is not an account of a performance of the Opera "Faust." It is not an account of some gorgeous ceremonial of exorcism in a great Buddhist temple. It purports to be the consecration of a building in England dedicated for the service and the worship of Jesus Christ. I know that perhaps the particular locus in which that service was held takes it outside the general law. If it does not, of course it was illegal from beginning to end, but, whether illegal or not, if services of that sort are held by Bishops in a country which we still believe to be a Protestant country, all I say is you cannot be surprised if large bodies of people in the Church smile when you suggest to them that it is their duty to trust the Bishops.
Another incident which I think was very disquieting took place a short time ago. Your Lordships, like other people, were no doubt shocked to read of the account of a brawling priest in St. Paul's Cathedral. That took place a very short time ago. An Anglo-Catholic I suppose he was—I really am not very learned in these party divisions—but at any rate a priest went to St. Paul's Cathedral, backed, as he himself boasted, by a hefty bodyguard of five hundred men, to protest 949 in the Cathedral and during the progress of divine service, because he did not like the doctrines of the learned Bishop who was in the pulpit. He protested because, as he said, that Bishop wounded other people's feelings by his language. Then this brawling priest himself returned straightway to his own church where, according to the published account, he celebrated a service the very name and title of which was provocative and offensive to large numbers of churchmen. Again, I say, if incidents of that sort occur from time to time it does not lead to increased trust, nor does it lead to increased trust when we find that in this particular case of the brawling priest, although he was sternly reproved for what I think was called by the Dean his "insolent outrage" he received from his own Bishop—I can hardly call it a reprimand—a comment so mild that really almost amounted to an encouraging pat on the back. Then we find, if your Lordships will look at Clause 7, subsection (2), that practically unlimited powers are given to the Bishops to alter, detract from, and add to the services and to introduce separate new special services. How many of those services, when this Book is passed, will resemble the dedication of the church at St. Albans to which I have referred?
Before I sit down let me refer to what I am persuaded must be some of the secondary consequences if this Measure is accepted. First I venture upon this assertion, and I doubt very much whether many of your Lordships will contradict it—I venture on the assertion that, speaking broadly, the English people are as whole-heartedly Protestant to-day as they have ever been. They are more tolerant than they used to be and it may be that there is more indifference, but there is no sign of any moving away in a national sense from the Protestant faith of which they have been the chief exponents in Europe for more than three hundred years. Secondly, as I have already attempted to show, they have never been really consulted in regard to this Measure. The right rev. Prelate who immediately preceded me said himself in 1923—not so very long ago—It is a very noteworthy thing that there is no public demand for any revision at all. Such demand as there is appears to me to be almost entirely clerical.I think that was quite true when the right rev. Prelate used those words and 950 I have no doubt that it is equally true to-day. What does that mean? A clerical, and a purely clerical, demand for this new Deposited Book, with a nation and a population as Protestant as ever. It means that you are digging a wide gulf—and it will get wider as time goes on—between the clergy and the laity. And what will be the immediate consequence of that? I am afraid I can see signs of it already. You will have in this country what you have never had before, though almost every other Christian country in the world has been afflicted by it, that is an anti-clerical movement. I am very much afraid such a movement will not be long delayed in this country.
The second result is that the Church will very rapidly cease to be in any real sense the expression of the religious faith of the nation as a whole. We have heard a great deal during this debate, and still more before this debate, of the inevitability of disestablishment if this Measure should be rejected. I am confident that the danger of disestablishment is much greater if this Measure and Deposited Book become law. I have all my life to the best of my humble ability—though I have not always had that fame to which alone the Bishop of Durham accords consideration—I have within my humble sphere been a defender of establishment. I am very doubtful whether in the Church as it will be if this Measure is carried it will be possible for me or many others who feel with me to remain supporters of establishment when, as I say, there will be no longer any real correspondence between the faith of the people and the clerical leaders.
Another consequence will be this. I have no doubt whatever that a rapid result will be, in some sense at all events, a disruption of the Church. Despite what the right rev. Prelate said—and I do not deny he has large means of knowledge—I say without hesitation that it will be perfectly useless from this time forward, if this is accepted, to dream of any form of reunion with the other Protestant Churches in the country. You may get co-operation, of course, on neutral subjects, but you are putting an end to all hope of reunion. You may no doubt—as the noble Viscount yesterday hoped you may—usefully, perhaps, renew conversations at Malines. You may as well at once cancel all arrangements for 951 another conference at Lambeth. And there is one more consequence, and this is the last word with which I shall trouble your Lordships—there is one consequence which I think would be the most disastrous of all. By reinstating the religious conceptions prevalent at a period which we, from our standpoint of enlightenment, are pleased to call the Dark Ages, when crude literalism and thaumaturgic magic caused no revolt either to the human conscience or to the human reason—by carrying out that reinstatement you are in the coming time going to make it more difficult for seriously thinking men to accept the Christian faith.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (VISCOUNT CAVE)
My Lords, having listened now for a great part of three days to this debate—a debate worthy in all respects of the traditions of this House—I have felt some doubt whether I could usefully add anything to what has been already said. But I remind myself that I am for the moment the holder of an office closely connected by its history and its functions with the great Church of England, and that by virtue of that office I am the patron of something like 700 livings and so in constant touch with every school of Church thought. Under those conditions I do not think that I ought to give an entirely silent vote. But in what I shall have to say to your Lordships I shall avoid the more personal and picturesque episodes, to some of which my noble friend Lord Cushendun has referred, and I will try rather to state in the simplest language the conclusions at which I have arrived.
My noble friend has just reminded us, and we cannot remind ourselves too often, that it is only some eight years since Parliament consented to the setting up of a National Assembly for the Church of England to deal with matters affecting the Church. At the same time it was provided that when that Assembly came to deal with matters of faith and doctrine a special procedure should be followed, under which the questions in debate should be discussed by each of the three Houses composing that Assembly in turn and afterwards by the Assembly itself. Of course the ultimate power of Parliament to assent to, or to dissent from, any Measure passed by that Assembly was reserved. The authority 952 of Parliament to override the Assembly is undoubted. But surely when all proper steps have been followed as prescribed by law, when the Assembly has reached its conclusions by great, I almost said by overwhelming, majorities, when the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament has considered the Measure, and has reported that it in no way infringes the constitutional rights of His Majesty's subjects and that it ought to proceed, surely an overwhelming case is then needed for your Lordships to consent to set aside a Measure so passed and, above all, a Measure dealing in the main with faith and doctrine.
May I remind you for a moment of a paragraph in the most carefully framed Report of the Ecclesiastical Committee? They said:—The Committee would not recommend any interference with the decisions of the Church Assembly on matters so clearly lying 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.It has been said—and my noble friend has reminded us of the contention—that the National Assembly is not completely representative even of the Church. With regard to the House of Laity, I myself feel that those who register themselves as voters and who vote are too few, but at all events they represent—I think there are some three or four millions of them—the most earnest and most active members of the Church. It should be remembered that the present Assembly was elected at a time when the matters with which we are dealing to-day had for long been discussed in public, and if others did not choose to register themselves as voters or to vote they must be deemed to have left the decision to those more active members of the Church to whom I have referred.
Whatever may be said of the laity, at all events the representative character of the House of Clergy and the Bishops, who are so closely concerned in these matters, cannot for a moment be denied. Add to this that the Houses of Convocation, the old established authority in these matters, have been separately con- 953 sulted and have separately approved this Measure. Add further that every diocesan conference throughout the country has by great majorities in the aggregate taken the same view. I do not exclude from that assertion the diocesan conference of the Diocese of Worcester, in which the influence of the right rev. Prelate who spoke yesterday may be deemed to be naturally and deservedly very great, but which, by a majority of not less than five to one, expressed approval of the Measure; nor do I exclude the conference of the Diocese of Norwich. All these have with one voice approved this proposal, and I do not think that any candid man could deny that at all events the opinion of the Church is clearly expressed.
But it is said that the alternative Book contains matter contrary to the doctrine of the Church. It is somewhat strange that such a thing should be said of a Book recommended by the two Archbishops and by the great majority of the Bench of Bishops. Again I would refer, for a moment, to the Report of the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament, who say this:—The Committee have carefully examined the Measure and the Deposited Book from this point of view, as well as the arguments of the objectors in relation thereto, and the replies of the Bishop of Chelmsford and other authorities of the Church. Without entering into argument on doctrinal questions, but having considered all that has been laid before them and the expressed opinion of the Archbishops and Bishops as to the doctrinal position of the Church of England, the Committee take the view that no change of doctrine of constitutional importance is involved, that accordingly the 'constitutional rights of all His Majesty's subjects' are not in this respect prejudicially affected, and there is nothing to modify the purport of the Coronation Oath.With me, at all events, those opinions weigh heavily, but as in duty bound I have tried to form an opinion of my own.
Like my noble friend who has just spoken, I am no expert in theology. I am just the average Englishman, neither a High Churchman nor, I think, a Low Churchman, but one who throughout his life has held the central way, who is fond of the orderly conduct of our Protestant services and profoundly convinced that the connection of Church and State, which has lasted through good times and bad, is of untold value to our people. Looking back, as I can, upon the events 954 and discussions of the last quarter of the nineteenth century, I rejoice to think that, during the Primacy and, if I may say so, owing largely to the wise guidance of the most rev. Primate who introduced this Resolution, the position of the Church is to-day far stronger than it was thirty or forty years ago.
I have considered to the best of my ability the Deposited Book. I have looked at all the passages to which objection has been taken by my noble friend and others, and it has appeared to me that too much is made of the differences between the two Books and too little is said of their essential agreement. I find that in every part of the alternative Book, in the daily services, in the Psalms and in the occasional services (not excluding the services of Baptism and of Marriage) the changes that are made are carefully and reverently made and they preserve in my view the spirit of the old Book, and indeed in many cases the diction which commended itself to the framers of the Book of 1662, and their effect is to enrich page after page of our Prayer Book. I believe that when our people have once become familiar with them the pages of that newer Book will attract not less devotion, and perhaps more acceptance, than the pages of the old. To me the effect is as if a fresh breeze were blowing through the old pages relieving them of some old doubts and incongruities, and some archaisms, and putting in their place words as affecting but more congruous with our own time. Others may have reached a different view, but I have found no single concession of principle, either in the ordinary services or in the Communion Service.
To any one who takes a different view I would venture to say this: Put the matter to a fair test. Take the new Communion Service, to which my noble friend Lord Cushendun has taken objection. Put for a moment out of your mind all this propaganda. Discard the meticulous comparison of phrase with phrase, in which he indulged, and rid yourself for a few moments of that kind of sour suspicion, alien, I believe, to the English soil, which imputes to every change of phrase some veiled and tortuous purpose. Read through that service with an open mind, and if your experience is the same as mine you will find there not a less but a greater and clearer insistence on the spiritual 955 character of the Sacrament; not more but less warrant for detecting a substratum of belief in what is known as a real and corporal presence. You will find, as I have found, no word or phrase in that new service which is contrary to the Protestant faith which I hold; and that service I would gladly hear read in any Church which I may attend.
The noble Earl, Lord Stanhope, in his able and moderate speech, complained that the Measure contains no new sanction to compel obedience to the dictates of the Prayer Book. With great respect to him, is this Measure the place where you would expect to find such sanctions? It is not a restrictive but it is a liberating document, in which penalties would, I venture to say, be wholly out of place. There are sanctions which are in no way diminished by this Measure. I am not a believer in dealing with ecclesiastical offences by the method of imprisonment. That method has always defeated its own objects, and it is only because that method was used that the Act of 1874 failed of its purpose. I believe that the more appropriate sanction is that which is allowed and defined by the earlier Act, the Church Discipline Act of 1840, for offences against ecclesiastical law. Under that Act, in the case of any such offence proceedings may be taken either in the Bishop's Court or in the Provincial Court, and the penalty is suspension and, if need be, deprivation—a penalty more effective than imprisonment, because it prevents a repetition of the offence. I do not rely upon the fact that a further Measure is, as many of us know, in preparation. I have seen, as many of your Lordships have seen, the draft of that Measure. I do not think, whatever form it takes, that it will provide better sanctions than those which are found in the Act of 1840, although I doubt not it will improve the machinery.
Although I admit that there must be sanctions, I attach more value to the statement, quoted more than once, from the letter written by the most rev. Primate a few weeks ago, when he gave to his correspondent, and to us all, the assurance that what is laid down in the new Book will, if this Measure receives the Royal Assent, be faithfully administered, and that the Bishops will act together in the matter. As to that 956 declaration, I share the view expressed by the Moderator of the Free Church Federal Council, Dr. Carnegie Simpson, who said that it is a definite pledge of action; that the pledge is given sans phrase and is not made dependent upon the passing of some future and almost certainly contentious Act. I attach the greatest value to that collective promise given by the Bench of Bishops, which I am certain must be followed by their successors, and although there is one exception, the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Norwich. I think I know enough of him and his to say that, whatever he may think it his duty to say at the present moment, he will, if the Measure becomes law, join in procuring obedience to the law.
I will say nothing about the so-called Black Rubric and the reservation for the sick and other matters, which can be better dealt with by someone rising from the Episcopal Benches. Ours is a Protestant Church, and I agree with my noble friend who has just spoken that the great mass of our people are following, and will follow, the old faith, and we can depend upon them to enforce the observance of that faith. As to the point made about prayers for the King, of course I cannot be indifferent to the suggestion that prayers for the Sovereign may be less frequently said under the new than in the use of the old Book. But I believe the suggestion to be wholly unfounded. As the law stands at present it is not legal to say the prayer for the King at Sunday Morning Prayer, because, if the rubric is strictly followed, it requires the Litany to be used on Sundays instead of what are called the five prayers. Under the new Book the prayers for the King and the Royal Family will be made lawful at Morning Prayer on every Sunday, and the prayers in the Communion Service and the prayer in the Litany will stand. I believe it is true, and I should have believed it even without the assurance given a short time ago by the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Durham, that prayers for the King will be said not less frequently, but more frequently than before.
I have one last word to say. The opponents of this Measure speak as if we could let things alone, and do nothing. They offer no alternative to this Measure, except the indefinite continuance of strife. 957 I believe that to be impossible. At this time, of all others, when attacks are made on the cardinal principles of our faith, we ought not to permit further bickering among Churchmen. The time has surely come for closing our ranks. The position to-day is this, that forms are used in very many of our churches which, according to the letter of the Prayer Book, are not authorised forms. The noble Lord, Lord Cushendun, says, "Why then is that not stopped?" I will tell him what I believe to be the reason. It is because these practices which are not in accordance with the letter of the Prayer Book are in accordance with the widespread convictions of very many, possibly of the majority of Church members, and are believed by them to be in accordance with the doctrines of the Church. We cannot continue to halt between two courses, neither condemning these practices nor in terms allowing them. We must let Churchmen know, and know on authority, what is lawful and what is not. If we do that—and that is the effect of this Measure—there is at least a good prospect that discipline will be established in the Church, and that there will follow a new impetus, a new accession of strength to the Church which we all revere and which we all desire to strengthen and preserve.
THE LORD BISHOP OF NORWICH
My Lords, the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Durham has kindly promoted me from the underworld to the place that I have chosen for myself—I do not deny at great cost—that of a sparrow sitting alone upon the house-top. Not very long ago he compared me to St. Simeon, the saint who lived many years on the top of a pillar, because he said I was aloof from the currents of ordinary life. I am going to ask your Lordships by your great courtesy and kindness to allow me to come down from these high eminences and to speak to you seated to-night because I have upon me a crippling attack of rather acute rheumatism.
I should like to try to follow the example of that great saint. I wonder whether the Bishop of Durham remembers that the historian records that "he is modest, easy of access, gracious, and answers every man who speaks to him. He has received from God the gift of teaching. He also acts as a judge 958 and gives just decision"? And, as a matter of fact, he was a man consulted upon the most important matters of Church and State. However, I wish to rise far above personal things, right up to the worship of Almighty God, and I wish to touch the springs of national welfare in which all are concerned. Emerson said that "a man's life is the picture-book of his creed," and there is no doubt that what we believe does rule our conduct. This is not a matter of formality or petty change. We are asked to change, to add new forms of worship. If Emerson and I are right forms of worship will have a national importance, a national and personal character. Now plainly the onus of proving rests upon those who are introducing the Deposited Book, and I think your Lordships will agree with me that their proof must be very, very strong. I am not in the least, deterred by the Report of the Ecclesiastical Committee, for it seems to me that the Report rules out all criticism in a curiously unconvincing way. Practically it tells us that if the law is altered what was unconstitutional before becomes constitutional. I cannot guess at what is meant by the constitutional aspect of the Enabling Act. It becomes quite illusory. Obviously any citizen must live under the new law and not under the old. Parliament is all-powerful. I thought that the terms of the Enabling Act were meant to safeguard existing rights, and not to say that they no longer exist when they have been removed.
"I think it would be a great mistake for Parliament to reject a Measure which has been accepted by the overwhelming majority of the Church"—we have heard that over and over again and never more cogently than from the noble and learned Viscount who is seated on the Woolsack. But is the House of Lords, a secular body, detached from the responsibility of representing the nation in its deepest aspects? Our Prayer Book is a national Book, and when I have said, as I often have said, that "this revision may be more Greek or more Roman or, indeed, more in line with the respected Episcopal Church of Scotland but is not in the line of progress of English devotion," I do not forget what England can contribute to the devotion of the world at large. I 959 am not insular. I believe that the Book digs a deeper trench between the National Church and the other Churches in England. Had it not been that some of my episcopal brethren deny that fact I should have thought it was obvious.
I maintain more tentatively that it is right that this Book should come before the House of Lords. It is not a matter of personal likes and dislikes. It is not as if failure in this matter would be confined to professional Churchmen or as if this was merely a domestic issue of the Church of England. If the National Church touches, as I believe it does, the life of the nation, here is a proper forum in which the devotional character of the Church should be safeguarded. It is not, I say with all emphasis, a question to be decided by episcopal experts, though I claim to be one of them and though I know that these are the days of the glorification of the expert. It is not an academic question. You, my Lords, are all entitled to a personal and unfettered judgment.
I think that in this the last speech to be made on behalf of those who sympathise with me all over the country, I should be wiser quietly to review the debate and the various points urged in favour of passing this Book than to attempt either to be eloquent or to make the kind of speech to which we have listened from the Bishop of Durham. I am told that we ought to pass this Book because the Royal Commission recommends it, because the Church Assembly approves, because only extremists oppose it, because it is optional, because it will give peace, because the Bishops ask for it for order, because if you reject it you will defy the Church, and because there is no alternative, as the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack said, after twenty years of labour. May I deal with those points one by one? It cannot be pretended that this Prayer Book does nothing to carry out the recommendations of the Royal Commission. It carries out many of those recommendations. It asks for variety of worship. So do I; but we can get that without upsetting our teaching. The most rev. Primate quoted the words:Give us a Book which belongs not to 1662 but to 1927.960 I ask for that Book, too. But the Royal Commission not only invites us to this greater variety of worship which I desire, but it condemns this Book in a crucial point. It condemns reservation of the Sacrament under conditions which lead to its adoration.
Can anybody see a difference in doctrine—I am not speaking to theologians—between the private adoration of the reserved Sacrament which the new Book facilitates and the public adoration which it forbids? To my mind adoration is adoration. Then what about singing immediately before the consecration prayer, "Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord"? What do you suppose would be the interpretation put upon those words by those who sing or hear that anthem? Did the Royal Commission dream of recommending that Christian fellowship should be bisected by two services of the Holy Communion? In the year 1925, when the Welsh Bishops still sat in Convocation, I proposed to reject the whole idea of two services of Holy Communion. I said that I thought that we, as Bishops, had no right to relegate to the discord of the parishes a thing upon which we had not made up our own minds clearly. I urged that one Holy Communion marked in a signal and sacred way the one fellowship of those who are in Christ. Bishops joined with me and I carried the day. I was the chief protaganist and I carried the day with a vote of three to one in my favour. Now, if you please, we are told that the hope of unity in the Church is to be found in this bisection of the fellowship of the Holy Communion. Has the Church outlook altered in the meantime in such a way in the country at large, that the three to one Bishops who voted with me are now accepted throughout the country as being totally mistaken and that a policy the opposite of what they enjoined is our one hope?
Then it is said that the revised Book has been finally approved by the official gatherings of the Church. I hope you will not be bored with me if I go a little further into this subject of what has been done. It is necessary. We are told to look at the convincing majorities of the diocesan conferences. I do not think they are in the least convincing. They were dominated by the Bishop. Supposing a Bishop gets up and says: "I hope we may have a good majority," 961 what is likely to be the effect upon the clergy? I will not allude to the Norwich Diocesan Conference, but I make the confession here that I did not speak at all at our Diocesan Conference. Even a Bishop—I know it—loses something by standing out, but the ordinary clergy are staking their all and losing their future by their opposition. Among them I believe that one vote cast against the Book costs and counts more than twenty in favour of the Book. A correspondent in a Northern newspaper wrote:—The Bishop of Norwich does suggest for the time being a wiser way. We have been surprised this week to meet three men who frankly admit that the Bishop of Norwich represents their own feelings and the feelings of large numbers, but in each case (two being rural deans) they supported the appeal of their Bishop.That may not go very far, but at least I have quoted one more than the Bishop of Chelmsford with his two of yesterday.
The Bishop of Chelmsford seems to me entirely to ignore the small interest, judged by numbers, shown in the diocesan conferences. In London 82 per cent. of the members were present; 324 voted for the Book; 261 against. This is called a majority of 55 per cent. I call it a majority of 10 per cent.—324 against 261. And note the great number of absentees. Take Canterbury. Out of 880 members only about half voted. Of course of those who did vote more were in favour of the Book than against it. That I do not dispute; I merely am showing the attendances at the conferences and asking whether they show much enthusiasm. I think the Bishop of Durham was kind enough to be flattered by one or two references to his previous speeches and I hope he will be flattered if I quote him again, though I see he is not in his place. Three years ago your Lordships heard him say:—The most rev. Primate, rather optimistically I think, assured the diocesan conference the other day that 3,500,000 electors were now on the rolls. That 3,500,000 in a nation of 36,000,000 ought to be at least 22,000,000. I ask your Lordships to realise that those rolls are represented in the annual meetings which were designed to replace those old vestries that were pointed to, I am afraid with scorn, five years ago when this Enabling Act was passed… . I have been able to gather the facts relating to my own diocese. Out of 154,000 registered electors just over 8,000 attended the annual meetings and those 8,000 elected just under 7,000 representatives. 962 I believe is can be really and truly said that the number of electors who actually took part in creating the lay section of the National Assembly voted for themselves.I listened with great interest to what the the right rev. Prelate said on that subject, but I did not find it very convincing. Perhaps your Lordships found it more so. Again—and I want to emphasise this very strongly—in these diocesan conferences there was no debate as you understand debate in this House. This is the kind of thing that happened. Just a long speech in most cases from the Bishop, another long speech on the same side from a distinguished stranger and no time left for the least real dissecting discussion. Here you discuss and you can amend. The diocesan conferences only voted.
But I base my objection far more deeply than this. I think it is absurd to suppose that such a new system as that inaugurated by the Enabling Act can possibly yet be considered to be a satisfactory authority and I criticise seriously the introduction of a crucial matter in English life on the assumption that the Church has spoken. How many of even regular churchgoers have ever seen the Book? We do move slowly in England and it may be that the vast majority will have this Book imposed upon them without any idea of its contents. I will speak later of its being supposed to be optional. These persons do not yet even know the language, the phrases, the words in which this decisive utterance of the Church Assembly is supposed to have been made. They do not know, they do not understand the phraseology of the Enabling Act. Not very long ago I had a conversation with two very distinguished members of your Lordships' House. The first one said to me: "I am right, am I not, in supposing that the parochial church council is something different from the parish council?" "Oh, yes," I said, "You are quite right there." And he was reassured. I was discussing this matter with the second and I had to explain to him that there was no chance of amendment on this occasion. That was apparently news to him. Now if great men like that are in these difficulties what are we to suppose of the ordinary country folk?
Parliament is known by the constituents. The Church Assembly, I maintain, is unknown. To speak of the 963 Church Assembly as the Parliament of the Church at this stage is like saying that one who is in his infancy—"in its infancy" is a quotation from the words of the most rev. Primate about the Church Assembly system—is able to discharge the functions of manhood. The day will come, I dare say, when the Church Assembly will be understood as the Parliament of the Church, but it most certainly has not come yet. The Dean of St. Paul's, though I do not go all the way with him, in a book of essays this year, has written:—These constitutional changes, for which there was no demand from the mass of the laity, were pushed through during and after the War by a group of busybodies who were not too much engrossed by the agony of their country to conduct a raging agitation in all parts of the kingdom.With those words I do not associate myself; but I would ask you to listen to the remainder of the quotation:—The dominant faction was at first uninterested, but soon realised that under a system of election to which nine-tenths of Churchmen were wholly indifferent"—somebody else has said something about ninety per cent.—the power could be easily grasped by themselves, the only well-organised party of the Church. So far the result has been entirely in favour of the Romanisers. They have a majority in the National Assembly, which they are using, without scruple or moderation, to tear up the old Prayer Book and the prudent compromise which it represents.Those are over-vigorous words and they are not the kind of words I commonly use, but I think they are at least a picture of the situation.
Now I ask your Lordships, one by one, if you have offered yourselves for election to the Church Assembly, or do you leave that largely to the "excellent men," as Dean Stanley called them, "who do not represent the lay opinion of the country and are clergymen under another form"? How many of you understood the procedure six months ago? Have you all registered in your parishes? Do you regularly attend the parochial meetings? You are laymen, most of you. Are you keen on the Book? Have you heard your friends praising it? Is not the acquiescence—I do not find much more than acquiescence myself—caught at second hand? Of course we must accept the law as it stands, but it does reserve to Parliament a veto which your Lordships have already once exercised on the 964 Measures of the Church Assembly. I myself regard this as a precipitate and extravagant use of the young Enabling Act:—Revision is an ecclesiastical movement with but slender roots among the laity.You will naturally ask me how I think the views of the Church of England can be satisfactorily expressed. I reply that until the Church Assembly, probably remodelled in accordance with growing experience, has got a hold on the country, we had better wait.
We had better not on this very slender authority go in for a revision that cuts us to pieces, on the pretence that the Church Assembly represents Christian England or the Church of England. But I do not urge that we should do nothing. I have much to say upon that presently:—In this time of universal unrest surely it would be unwise to augment our troubles, and this must result if the clerical faction succeed in the present Measure and thereby unsettle and alienate the great body of loyal Churchpeople.I think we must develop this thought of post-War unrest. Are we all very proud of the legislation that has come in since the end of the War? Unrest has been common on every side since the War. There has been a tendency to splits in the Church as elsewhere. Instability and disintegration are marks of the present hour. Who can be sure that the Bishops of the Canterbury Province will not again change their minds as strikingly as they have in the last twelve years? The pendulum may swing back. The ecclesiastical situation is insecure. The most rev. Primate has condemned those who will not drop an iota of what they want for the sake of peace. "For the sake of peace" seems to be a petitio principii. The wrecking of the whole endeavour comes not from our perverseness but from this curious Act of Parliament which makes it impossible for us, without rejecting this Measure, to secure what we all want—namely, most of what the Archbishop commends to us.
I should like you only on the doctrinal side to consider very carefully, not what is the best that can be made of this new Book by the most careful and limited interpretation of moderate men, but rather how will the Book be interpreted and used by those who are anxious for the extensions which it grants. What will 965 they actually teach? We must take a common sense view. I appeal to those who find that the clergy in their districts and parishes have gone too far, to come out and to vote against this Measure which will give such clergy yet more liberty for the introduction of things that are contrary to the present Prayer Book which marks the national standard of devotion. If you see this going on in your own parishes at home, or in any of the parishes of which you are the patrons, do not, on general grounds of avoiding something unpleasant in to-day's Division, strengthen this sort of thing. It is urged that the whole Book should be passed in the interests of peace. Let me remind you of what the noble Viscount, Lord Halifax, said last night, and of the thousand clergy present and the 600 absent who in the Church House only the other day said they would not consent to what they called the new doctrine introduced in the new Book. They will put their own interpretation upon doctrines. They say:—What such a change may mean to us in the future we will not now attempt to forecast; but it will cause the utmost grief and distress, and we are convinced that it will cause real sorrow of heart to a great mass of Churchpeople.That on the one side. What about the 1,400 priests on the other?
The Archbishop of Canterbury, who, if I may venture timorously to bring in a comparison with myself, has had, I believe, two years longer parochial experience (a point to which the Bishop of Durham referred), said:—You may take it from me as absolutely certain that the Bishops will require obedience to the new rules and will do their best to secure it.How often have the Bishops said that before and nothing has been done? Of course the new rules, harmlessly replacing obsolete regulations, will be obeyed—only very scrupulous people have any difficulty about that now. As to controversial rules, you will remember what Lord Carson said last night about the Primate's own declarations and also his consequent lack of success. The Bishop of Durham has written:—They must not be hustled. They must be trusted to use whatever influences personal and official they possess.Could they not always do that? Does this not practically mean that the 966 Bishops' attitude will be very much as before? I am not blaming it now, but I am only saying that the new Book, except for advancing the line and so reducing the number who step over it, will not in principle help the Bishops, and that here is no argument for sanctioning the disputed parts of the Book. If you sanction this Book you will be putting the cart before the horse.
The Bishop of Chelmsford made an interesting speech last night about obedience to the new rule of public worship, but, except for dealing with the obsolete requirements and with advancing lines in favour of those who transgress, I cannot for the life of me make out what the new rule is. He illustrated the matter by saying that the rule would enforce itself, just as the new motor law would enforce itself or the new law about divorce publications had enforced itself. These illustrations referred to new laws and, so far as I can see, had not the smallest bearing on a situation in which there is to be no new law. I have been a Bishop for many more years than most of those seated beside me, but I have not the ghost of a notion how the so-called rule of the new Book is going to help me to maintain discipline. It is going to spread extravagances. Our country folk will be able to say of even more of their new parsons: "We do not know what he is after." I really do not know what this new rule is. The obviously obsolete rubrics have not stood in our way, and the whole argument of the Bishop of Chelmsford seems to be based on the creation of a new situation which is not being created.
We are told that the rejection of this Measure will produce chaos—not more surely than the new Book—and, of course, if the Bishops wish to make chaos they can always do so. But if we put our heads together to make a less contentious Book we can easily do so. No one, I hope, would take rejection ill-naturedly. If we all put our heads together, going as far as possible in conciliation, our next edition will be a wiser Book. Only a few days ago I assured the Primate how eager I would be to help, and I for one would sacrifice my own mere likes and dislikes entirely in the cause of God and the nation. This is a series of leaps in the dark. Do not be moved by the idea that all will be over with the Church of England if you do not make them. 967 There is an alternative, and a very plain one, which I have proposed from the very beginning. By all means welcome the parts on which there will be agreement, and let us start on those parts to which the most rev. Primate referred when he assured us that the majority of the changes made were non-controversial.
It is said that my plan is not an alternative but an evasion. But, if this were true, it would not justify this Book. No reform is better than a bad reform, but it is rather strange that my proposal is regarded as an evasion and not a solution, when the Book itself provides no solution. That is the very point under discussion. I believe it will mean a creation of difficulties far and wide throughout the country, unless people just give up going to church. I cannot see that any proposal is futile which promotes a distinctly better worship of God, richer and fuller. The very way in which this criticism of my proposal, as being futile, is made, shows that the spirit and aim of worship is being forgotten among our difficulties here on earth. I thought it was rather odd that the most rev. Primate spoke of a sincere effort to improve and extend the worship of God as something as paltry as mowing grass by the roadside. It was as nothing compared with a precarious effort for discipline, which it did not help forward. It seems to me that the non-contentious parts of the Book do deepen its Christian character. I would point out that I am only following a suggestion made by the Bishops themselves. They appointed a special Committee to consider the revision of the Catechism, but this presented so much difficulty and produced so many divergent suggestions that the Catechism was deliberately left alone. I have thus a precedent for my proposal for leaving out the parts which relate to the Holy Communion. I would go far in extending reservation which, so long as it could be classed as a concurrent Communion, would offer no opportunity for other uses.
I hope we shall hear something from the Archbishop of York about the probable success of episcopal action and the grounds of his expectation. I wonder if he will show for the first time that this infant Church Assembly honestly and adequately represents the Churchmen and Christians of the country. I know 968 you will hear eloquence from him, but press to listen for his argument. I must confess that I cannot mention his Grace's name without telling you of all his goodness to me in my singularly unenviable position. I hope he will not persuade you as successfully as he has befriended me.
In conclusion do not, I beg, base any irrevocable action on the unverifiable prophecies of Bishops, a body, as you have seen, specially prone to change of mind. Advance securely and by degrees. I urge a common-sense compromise, which is often found to be the right course in this House. I urge it most earnestly to any who have misgivings—and few can be without misgivings to-day. Is there really the very least guarantee of success? Is there the very smallest prospect of this most controversial Book being the ante-chamber to the Temple of Concord and Order? I believe that you are rather being asked to make strong and firm the Temple of Discord, or shall I say that you are being asked to re-erect the Temple of Janus, who, you will remember, was a god who faced both ways? His temple was closed only in time of peace. You are being invited to take a step that will keep it always open. I beg you not to dissipate the influence of our National Church by making the Book which voices its standards optional and alternative in crucial points. Enrich it, beautify it where you can, supplement it where it is necessary, but I beg you not to spoil the united harmony of its perfect tones.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF YORK
My Lords, I think you will all agree with me that the time has now come when this long-drawn debate must pass to the stage of a decision. The tone of the debate, the number of your Lordships present, and the evident attention which you have given to the various arguments, are sufficient proof that your Lordships realise that you are about to make a decision which is, perhaps, the most momentous which this House has taken in regard to the Church of England within living memory. The case for this Measure has been put to-day before your Lordships with what even one of his oldest friends may describe as the brilliant and trenchant eloquence of the Bishop of Durham, and by the quiet wisdom, which to me was singularly im- 969 pressive and persuasive, of the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack. It might seem that there was nothing left for me to say, but the noble Lord, Lord Cushendun, survived in vigour the first of these efforts, and the Bishop of Norwich has survived the second. It may be there are some of your Lordships who have not heard the whole of the debate, and who are still hesitating about your vote, and you will therefore forgive me if I ask your indulgence to try to make some general reply to the whole debate.
If I cannot help being, according to the unsolicited testimonial quoted by the Bishop of Durham, swollen-headed, at least I hope that I shall not be long-winded. We have just listened with great respect to the Bishop of Norwich, and how can I fail to be touched by the extremely friendly words which he spoke towards the close. I cannot but admire—I think we all do—his pertinacity. It has continued throughout the country and in this House. His voice, spoken through his noble and learned brother, began the debate, for although the voice was that of the Master of the Rolls the prompter was the Bishop of Norwich, and his own voice has closed the debate. I can only wish, for his own sake and for the sake of the Church, that his pertinacity, much as I admire it, may not succeed. He will not think me guilty of want of respect if I say, with regard to his alternative plan, with which he closed his speech, that I merely brush it aside. It is not practicable. How can we guarantee that none of the friends which he has recently made will find any proposal which he can make uncontroversial? If practicable, it would be futile, for a book which attempted to please everybody would end by satisfying nobody. It is not courageous. It does not meet the real brunt of the difficulty. It is not solving this problem; it is shirking it. It is not worthy of the courage which he has shown in the agitation which he has conducted and led. There is no better simile of the position than that used by the Archbishop of Canterbury when introducing the Motion—that if you are going to mend a road that needs mending, it is folly to leave out that part which is most impassable and most in need of repair. Believe me, you must take or leave this Book as it stands.
970 May I once again press upon your Lordships that you are entitled to regard this Measure as brought before you by the Church of England itself. Of the Bishops I will only say this, that their unity in this matter is, I think, most noteworthy. My noble friend Lord Carson dwelt upon the minor evidences of difference. What would be the worth of this most remarkable unity unless it had been achieved through constant debate and difference? The Archbishop of Canterbury, speaking of his twenty-five years as Archbishop, would corroborate what I say out of my shorter experience of eighteen years, that I have never known any matter in which in a more remarkable manner men of entirely different traditions and points of view on the Bench behind me were drawn and led together to this practical unanimity. I think that all this is an augury of a new time which is approaching the Church of England. Then there were the Convocations, who asked that this matter should be submitted to the Assembly and ultimately to this House, and I think it is pertinent to remember that it was from the Convocations that the Prayer Book which we all love, and which is under discussion to-day, that of 1662, was received by Parliament, and that when Parliament at that time, as your Lordships will remember, received it from the Convocations, although they asserted their right to discuss it they refused to exercise that right. It is these Convocations, bodies as ancient as your Lordships' House, who also put this matter before you.
There is also the Church Assembly. I am obliged at this late hour to say something more about the Church Assembly, and I can scarcely refuse to do so in view of what has been said by the Bishop of Norwich and by others. Your Lordships may say what you like about the representative basis of the Church Assembly, but after all it was very much less representative, it had very much less hold upon even Churchmen, when the Enabling Act was passed, at the time when your Lordships were pleased by Statute to recognise it as entitled to speak on behalf of the Church of England, than it is now. The noble Lord, Lord Cushendun, said there was nothing before Parliament when that Act was passed that contemplated such a Measure as this being submitted. The Lord Chancellor has already fully dealt with that 971 point. There is in the Constitution which is part of the Enabling Act express provision relating to the forms and ceremonies of the Church, those which are prepared for the consideration of the Assembly with a view to initiating legislation in this House. Then there is the opinion endorsed by the other representative assemblies of the Church.
I do not wish to worry you with statistics, and I would not have done so if they had not been challenged. You will remember that we have up to November a record of 33 conferences in these dioceses. I have calculated that among the clergy and laity there assembled 8,141 were for this Measure and 1,890 against. I am told by the Bishop of Norwich and others that those majorities were dominated by the Bishops, though he said he himself did not speak. If he has not spoken in his conference he has certainly spoken plentifully elsewhere, and written abundantly. Everyone knew what he thought. I am sure my brother of Worcester was not silent, and, as you have been reminded, in his diocesan conference there were 162 votes for and only 31 against. But in my own diocese and in many others the voting in the diocesan conference was by ballot, and, save for those whom I encouraged and invited to speak for the Measure, I do not know to this day how my clergy may have voted.
When I hear what is said about the comparatively small constituency which lies behind the Church Assembly I can only say this. No one desires more eagerly than I do that the bulk of Churchmen will avail themselves of this franchise which has been given to them: and may I be forgiven if I say that I hope that one of the most fruitful results of this debate will be that many of your Lordships who have shown so much interest in the matter will not only at once have your names put on the electoral roll, but will also yourselves take an eager part in the election of your members on the parochial church council. For, after all, as has been most truly pointed out, you cannot blame those Churchmen who have shown their sense of the value of the citizenship put in their hands because a great many other Church people have been so indifferent and so careless as not to use it. I think, therefore, it may be said that 972 at least the Church Assembly represents those who care most and those who will most value the forms of worship that are used in their parish churches.
I do not quite know in what other way you could obtain the opinion of the Church. Certainly I do not attach much importance to petitions. I have here in my hand a petition, I understand largely presented to the House of Commons at the present time, which, if there were time, I should like to expose as a conspicuous instance of the worthlessness of general and promiscuous petitions. We all know how the signatures can be obtained, and most of these petitions are valuable merely in the bulk of the paper which they occupy. The noble Duke, the Duke of Buccleuch, last night seemed to think that on this matter there ought to be a referendum to the people. But your Lordships know enough about that endless question of the referendum to know that the whole value of it depends on the form of question that is put. How shall any one say in what form you would put a referendum to the people of this country generally on a matter so sacred and so wide-reaching as this? And I have yet to learn that it belongs to the principles of the Established Church that its forms of worship should be settled by a plebiscite of the people.
We have heard something about the opposition of members of the Free Churches in this country. I express no opinion about the intervention of the Free Churches in this matter. So long as the Church is established and the Free Churchmen are citizens of this country its fortunes are a matter which so concerns them that they have their own particular right of expressing their opinions about it. But I would remind your Lordships that the attitude of the Free Churches is by no means what has been somewhat represented this evening. You would notice a letter in The Times the other day from my friend Dr. Garvie, in which he pointed out that there were only two of the great Free Churches in this country which had officially advised that this Measure should be rejected by Parliament, the Baptists and the United Methodists. The other great bodies, the Wesleyans, the Presbyterian Church, the Primitive Methodists and the great Congregational Union, have refrained from taking that course.
973 When it is said that the passing of the Measure would gravely increase the difficulties of that reunion of all Christian people which we desire I think I have a sufficient reply. Who are those conspicuous leaders of Nonconformity who have had the courage to say that they are willing, and indeed desirous, that this Measure should pass? I mention three—Dr. Carnegie Simpson of the Presbyterians, Dr. Garvie of the Congregationalists, and Dr. Scott Lidgett of the Wesleyans. These men, willing that this Measure should go through, are the three men who, more than any others, are identified at the present time with the desire to promote reunion with the Church of England. And it is, I am happy to say, with these men that for the last six years, under the hospitable roof of Lambeth; I have been engaged in the closest effort to endeavour to reach some deeper unity. I know that these men will not regard the passage of this Measure as in any way constituting a bar to our further conferences.
That is a digression, forgive me for making it. I venture again to submit that it is a request from the Church of England that your Lordships have either to grant or to refuse. You have your right, that is unquestionable. You have also, in proportion to the greatness of that right, your profound responsibility. I presume that it is on the main issues that your Lordships would wish me to speak this evening, but, before I can clear the ground for the discussion of those main issues, I am expected, I have been told, to deal with some subsidiary points. There is the Black Rubric. It interests me to think how many people have suddenly become aware of the existence of the Black Rubric, which so many noble Lords have described as the charter of their Protestantism. The position is not really very difficult. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Carson, said that the exclusion of the clergy who celebrate the alternative order of Holy Communion from the operation of the Black-Rubric was beyond doubt, it was not arguable. Well he certainly did not argue it.
The case had been put by the noble Earl, Lord Beauchamp, by Lord Phillimore, and by others. I am sorry it had not a deeper effect. I suppose I must repeat it. The truth is that the Black Rubric—I say nothing about its history 974 or of the significance which it possesses, which would greatly shake that doctrinal attachment to it which has been professed by Lord Carson and Lord Cushendun, but I will not trouble you with that now—the truth is that it is not a rubric at all. A rubric is a direction of something that has to be done. This is a declaration of doctrine—of the doctrine that is supposed to underlie the universally adopted practice of kneeling to receive the Holy Communion. As a declaration of doctrine, inasmuch as the Book of Common Prayer as it is remains the standard of teaching in the Church of England, it has authority over all the clergy and over every part of their administration within either the Book of Common Prayer or the Deposited Book. It is to the Book of Common Prayer as a standard of doctrine, and to nothing else, except the Articles, that the clergy have still to make their Declaration of Assent.
I am bound in fairness to allude to a letter which I saw this morning, and which some of your Lordships read. You might think I had been wanting in candour if I left out the letter from the Bishop of Gloucester. He is not a member of this House. I have only to say about that letter that I think his memory is at fault. It is perfectly true, if I may for a moment open a little the door of the prison house and disclose something of what happened inside when the Bishops were discussing these matters, that there was a discussion upon the fitness of the concluding words of the Black Rubric, and I think many of your Lordships would feel that these words, natural perhaps at the time, were not very consonant with our modern ways of thought on philosophical or theological matters. But it was decided that no change should be made or suggested in the Black Rubric and that it should retain its place as a document of the teaching of the Church of England in the old office and the Deposited Book; as, indeed, the Bishop of Gloucester admits.
This is, surely, a matter of common sense. Can it be supposed that it was intended that communicants who kneel when they receive Communion under the old order are meaning a different thing when they kneel when they are receiving under the alternative order? Can it really be suggested that it was seriously intended that 975 a priest who celebrated under the old order was doing so under one doctrine and then made a sudden volte face and celebrated under another doctrine when he took the alternative order? On the contrary, there was no such intention. The fact is that not being a rubric this Black Rubric was not printed with the other General Rubrics at the beginning of both orders. Being a declaration of doctrine it was regarded as having its inevitable place and as governing the teaching of the Church. It was not printed at the end of both orders because we were anxious not in any way to change the text of the existing order, and it was not printed twice for the simple reason that we thought that to have it twice was merely redundant, particularly because the Bishops desired and would do their utmost to effect that in all authorised copies of the order of Holy Communion the old order should be printed with the new. I am sorry to have taken up so much time, but I beg to assure your Lordships that there can be no question that whether a clergyman uses the old order or the new he is equally governed by the teaching which is declared in that Rubric.
Still on a subsidiary point, I feel that I must say a few words because special reference has been made to it, about the place of the existing Book. Will it be safeguarded? I can only say as emphatically as I can that the old Book remains as it was. This is not the time for any noble Lord to raise a question on what is really a technical matter of drafting and, therefore, I do not deal with it. In substance the old Book remains as it was. More than that, I have already said that it remains a standard of the doctrine of the Church of England unchanged and the clergy give their assent to it. More than that, it retains its use wherever any incumbent desires to use it. No obligation either on the part of the parochial church council or the Bishop can compel any clergyman to use any but the old Book.
The noble Lord, Lord Cushendun, said, to my surprise, that there was no allusion to it in the Measure. The Measure says, in Clause 2 (ii) (c)—A minister shall not be under any obligation to use in public worship any orders or forms of service other than those contained in the Book of Common Prayer…976 That is an entirely clerical discretion put into his hands. But when you come to the use of the alternative Book the discretion is limited, and it is limited because his parochial church council has a right of appeal to the Bishop. If there is an appeal—the noble Lord is wrong—it is not at the option of the Bishop to decide whether he deals with it or not. He then "shall issue orders" which for that particular matter of reference shall be final. It is, therefore, literally true that there can be no compulsion exercised upon any clergyman who desires to use the old Book, and there I must leave that matter.
There is one other point, and I must dismiss it most briefly. It has been said, again I think by the noble Lord, Lord Cushendun, that the Bishops assumed to themselves apparently unlimited powers of going beyond and behind the rubrics even of their own proposed Prayer Book. It is not so. The right of making these rules by the Bishops, referred to in Clause 4 of the Measure, to which he calls attention, is expressly confined to two points. I will not weary your Lordships by specifying what those points are. They are simply that where there is some doubt as to what is to be understood or done under the new Book the Archbishop and Bishops of the Province can make rules to determine it. Secondly, in regard to the reserved Holy Communion, while the principles are laid down emphatically in rubrics, the Archbishop and Bishops or the Convocations may make regulations for carrying them out. But in both cases the Archbishop and Bishops are compelled to make their rules in accordance with the rules and rubrics of the Book.
When you turn to those supplementary orders of service of which the noble Lord has some suspicion, you will find in Clause 7 of the Measure that no Archbishop or Bishop can issue any supplementary forms of service except they be in conformity with the doctrine of the Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-nine Articles and they must not be in substitution for, or in addition to, any of the rubrics in the old or the Deposited Book. I apologise for taking so long over these subsidiary points, but I felt I was expected to do what I could in regard to them.
I do not think any of your Lordships would have attached very great 977 importance to those subsidiary points unless you were really concerned in mind about the main issues. These, I think, are two, and it is to those two that I must now direct your Lordships' attention. The first is, after all, do these proposed changes really involve any alteration of the substance of the doctrine of that Church to which the State still continues to give the privileges and responsibilities of an Established Church? And the second is, will these proposals really tend to the peace and order of the Church? I deal first with the matter of doctrine. This is not, and your Lordships have shown that you do not wish it to be regarded as, a court of doctrine. We should indeed be under grievous censure from those who care for the spiritual unity of the Church if we attempted so to make it. At the same time, your Lordships have a perfect right, it is given to you, to decide simply on the question whether you think these proposed changes do, in themselves, fundamentally alter the basis of the Church as by law established.
Of course, there is elsewhere and in your Lordships' minds an instinct which responds to any suggestion that the Protestantism of the Church of England is in danger, and I am not surprised at the speeches coming from the noble Lord, Lord Cushendun, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Carson, because we all know the reasons why. It is almost a matter of ancestral piety for them to maintain a militant witness against the ever-pressing power of the Church of Rome in their country. But this instinct, like every other, needs reason for its guidance and its restraint. I would ask your Lordships to remember that, after all, many of the things that are now quietly and universally accepted were once assailed with the same cry of "Protestantism in danger." I will only mention one instance as I have not time for more. There was the case of which it was truly said that while the surplice at the Holy Communion was regarded as a decent and reverent costume, in the pulpit it was a Popish innovation. The surplices of the choir excited riots within less than one hundred years ago. The Cross on the Holy Table, which is now almost universally exhibited, was fiercely assailed. Even the Book of Common Prayer itself, which is now to be so jealously guarded, was originally, by our 978 Puritan fellow-citizens in the old days, regarded as itself guilty of Popery and in the Root and Branch Petition of 1640 it was said:—The Liturgy for the most part is framed out of the Roman breviary, ritual and mass books.All I ask is, let us have a chastening recollection of these fierce and forgotten agitations when we are dealing with the matter now before us.
But there is a second point which I rather wish to stress and it is this. The relevant question is not whether these changes are consistent with what may vaguely be called Protestant principles, but whether they are consistent with the doctrine of the Book of Common Prayer. The two things are not identical. The protest which the Church of England made and continues to make with regard to the Church of Rome has always had a twofold appeal—first, to the holy scriptures and, secondly, to the usages of the early undivided Church. I do not labour that point. I will give only one illustration because it bears upon the question of the alternative order of Holy Communion into which I have not the time to enter. It is with regard to this Prayer Book of 1662. The King's order for the conference which led up to the compiling of that Prayer Book was that "they were to advise upon and review the said Book of Common Prayer, comparing the same with the most ancient liturgies which have been used in the Church in the primitive and purest times." I do not labour the point, but it is important to point out that the Church of England while protesting against the jurisdiction and what it is bound to believe to be the errors of the Church of Rome, has always claimed and still claims its own place in the historic Catholic Church and retains in its teaching, the scriptures and the creeds, in its sacraments and in its orders, what it believes to be the common heritage of that historic Catholic Church. That is its position, that is what gives the Church of England its place in Christendom. That is what holds out a hope of its being able to be helpful in the reunion of all Christian people.
Therefore the question relevant to us is, I repeat, not what all Protestants may happen to like and approve of, but whether or not these changes are consistent with the teaching of the Book of Common Prayer. It would be the last 979 of my wishes to weary your Lordships by entering into the details that have been mentioned. I wish I could do so. Perhaps it is presumptuous to say that I really think I have a reply to almost all the points with regard to the alternative order of Holy Communion and reservation which have been mentioned in this debate. But you have heard the discussion. You must weigh the evidence. That is all that is asked. You will remember what the evidence for which I stand is. There is the evidence of a Report of your Ecclesiastical Committee to which attention was called in what I may describe, for so they seemed to me, as the most admirable speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Gorell, last night and of the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack to-day. There is the approval of Convocation; of the clergy of England, who have some right to be heard on a doctrinal matter, given by 236 to 32; and you have the deliberate judgment of the Bishops, now 38 to 4.
I am not going to speak of the competence of the Bishops. I am not even going to dwell here upon the authority inherent in their office, though some of your Lordships will not dismiss that consideration from your minds. I am content to dwell on one quality of this evidence and that is that it is responsible. It has all the restraints and obligations of definite responsibility and that is one quality which all the evidence of partisan societies, of Free Churchmen or even of individual noble Lords, however sincere they may be, does not possess. And if you want something that perhaps comes home with a more direct appeal it will be found in the words of one whom we have all learned to trust as a straightforward and honourable man, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who introduced this Motion. Let me remind you of his words:—Standing here I assure your Lordships to-day that I am absolutely unconscious of 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.Your Lordships can turn, lastly, to the point of discipline which I cannot avoid. Will this Measure and the Book which it will sanction bring order into the life of the Church? It is common ground that the restoration of order is needed. We 980 cannot go on as we are without losing the self-respect that belonges to any community. There must be a restoration not only of the effects of law but of the sense of law and of its obligations. If we ask who is to blame your Lordships may possibly say "the Bishops." They may be. It is a very difficult thing if you are in our position to deal drastically with men before whose self-sacrificing work, often among the poor, one wishes to stand hat in hand with respect. It is a very difficult thing always to deal with an obstinate conscience. Of all human things it is the one which is most entitled to respect and most tiresome to deal with. We have our own difficulties, but we have not been wholly unsuccessful.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Carson, was good enough to say last night that there were certain practices which the Royal Commission said must be made to cease and that not a single effort to make them cease had ever been attempted. I heard those words with astonishment. Why, we have been busy making efforts ever since the beginning of the century and I venture to say that for the most part those efforts have been very largely successful. Here and there you may have someone whose eccentricities call attention to him, but as for the great bulk even of those who call themselves the Anglo-Catholic clergy, I would unhesitatingly say that these particular practices do not exist. Remember when you judge the Bishops that the Royal Commission itself indicated that they were hampered by two difficulties—one, that there were no courts that could be used because they did not command the conscience of those over whom they were exercised; the other, that the law itself was too narrow and was at fault. These are the two remedies that are proposed. With reference to what was said in a very able speech by the noble Earl, Lord Stanhope, you will not forget that we have considered this question of courts and in due course the proposals will come before your Lordships' House, whether by Bill or by Measure I cannot say.
The noble Earl asked: Why not bring them in together? Others have said: Why not make more specific declarations of the policy of enforcement? The reason is very simple. You cannot get order by any mere book. You cannot get order by mere rides. You cannot get 981 order by mere statements of disciplinary measures. The only way you can restore order where it is broken in any community is by restoring the sense of loyalty. Loyalty everywhere is the basis of law. What we hope to do by this Book is to make an appeal to that sense of loyalty. If any other course had been taken I think it surely would have meant disaster. Let me take an illustration. There was a very awkward time when demobilisation of the troops had to be undertaken. There was great, discontent in certain regiments and commanding officers had great difficulty. They knew that to restore discipline they must make an effective appeal to the loyalty of the regiment. What chance would that have had if it had been accompanied by a statement of the punishments that would certainly be inflicted? I am sure it will appeal to your common sense that the last thing that would succeed in winning loyalty would be to accompany an appeal for it with a list of punitive measures.
Of course we must give time. The noble Earl asked: Will the Bishops deal with this matter forthwith? Yes, my Lords, forthwith they will begin, but it must take time, time not only for moral and spiritual suasion to work, but also for the corporate opinion of the Church winch would be recorded by this Book to bring itself to bear upon all its clergy and laity. I believe that is a matter of great importance. You have heard of threats on the one side by a company of those who call themselves Anglo-Catholic clergy. The number of 1,400 was quoted, but it was found on a referendum, I am informed, that the number dwindled down to 700. There are those on the other side who threaten that they may be obliged to leave the Church. There was a clergyman whose letter the noble Lord, Lord Carson, read out with great pathos last night. I would only say that that clergyman had already shown his conscience to be so sensitive that he had withdrawn from allegiance to the great central society of the Evangelical party, the Church Missionary Society. Remember, that extreme minorities are always those who make most noise. A single drum can silence a whole orchestra.
I want to impress on your Lordships that the truth is that to those who do not depend for their information upon newspapers the really remarkable thing 982 is the singular and striking unity which has been created. These majorities of which we have been speaking are composed of the great bulk of those who call themselves either Evangelicals or Anglo-Catholics, and they are rejoicing to find a basis upon which they can meet and work together as brothers in the same Church and not as partisans arrayed against one another. I could multiply instances on that point. We all listened last night with great respect to the speech of my noble friend Viscount Halifax. It touched us all because we remembered the long years of consistent and chivalrous Christian life which lay behind it. He said: What chance have you? You cannot enforce these things by Act of Parliament. He mentioned the Public Worship Regulation Act. But this is not an Act of Parliament. It is the voice of the Church which has the authority of the representative Assemblies of the Church, and no such engine for securing discipline has before been presented during these later troubles. I believe myself that there is a new spirit rising out of these very proposals which, if it is allowed to work, will not only bring order but will also greatly enhance the unity of the Church.
That there are difficulties which still remain, who can deny? Who are likely to know these better than the Bishops themselves who will have to face them? Yet it is, knowing what these difficulties will be, that we come before your Lordships and say that in spite of them we are prepared. Give us this means and we will do our best. Certainly the difficulties are great if the Measure passes, bur they are not comparable to those that will result if your Lordships are pleased to reject it. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Hanworth, spoke about the bogey of chaos. It is all very well for him to speak about the bogey of chaos when he will not have to administer it. It is a different thing for those in a position of responsibility. I do not hesitate to say to your Lordships quite honestly, speaking as man to men, that I do not know how the administration of the Church is to be carried on if this Measure is rejected. For what would the position be? We would be thrown back to the existing situation, which is admittedly bad. It would be aggravated, because what are we to do with all the 983 permissions which have already been granted and which are now to be legalised by this Measure? Are the Bishops to declare them illegal and take proceedings against men who use them? Many clergy will claim to use further permissions sanctioned by this Book. Are the Bishops to grant them? How can they deal with more serious lawbreakers who could mention that precedent? Are they to refuse? Then the reply would be: "On what authority do you refuse these things? You cannot say on the authority of the Church, because the Church has already expressed approval of them. You can only ask us to obey on the authority of a majority of one or other House of Parliament." You will see a direct and definite challenge of Parliament.
The noble Lord, Lord Cushendun, spoke of disestablishment as a result if this Measure passed. His reason, as you will remember, was that he individually, and some who agree with him, would feel that such changes had been made that the Established Church would no longer be the same Church for him. He spoke about going back to thaumaturgic ceremonies derived from the Middle Ages. To what does that refer except to what is done in the alternative Order of Holy Communion? I would ask your Lordships to listen rather to the balanced words that fell from the noble Viscount the Lord Chancellor on that matter. Surely that cannot be a sufficient reason for precipitating disestablishment. This is a question of direct principle affecting the independence and the self-respect of the Church. It may be necessary some day to face the question of disestablishment. It is a vast issue. No one would wish to enter upon it lightly. It is a principle that goes down to the very roots of our national life and is interwoven with the whole of our history before Parliaments began. Most certainly none of your Lordships, I think, would wish it to be raised because of internal strife within the Church. You would wish it to be raised upon other and more serious and more deep-reaching issues than this.
I must close. I apologise for having kept your Lordships so long, but the debate imposed an almost intolerable burden upon me of answering all these points. I do not want to close with this 984 sombre note of discipline. Forgive me if I remind you at the end of the debate that the main object of this Book is not to secure better provision for the discipline of the clergy. It is to secure better provision for the worship of God. The noble Viscount the Lord Chancellor was good enough to say that he felt there was a fresh breeze blowing through this Book. I wish that breeze could arise and blow away the dusts of misconception and misunderstanding that have arisen around it and that your Lordships could see it and estimate the Book for yourselves. The noble Duke, the Duke of Buccleuch, said that what is done in the Book had not yet entered the minds of the people. Will he forgive me if I say that it occurred to me on hearing his speech that it has scarcely yet entered his own? I am sure that the more noble Lords and others will really study the Book itself apart from things that have been said about it, the more surprised they will be at the suspicions that have been created. We have tried in this Book to find a place in the Church's prayers for all the elements of mind and thought and experience that have won a place in the Church's life.
In conclusion—this is my last word and I speak it, I think, with almost more sincerity than anything I have yet said—I ask your Lordships to vote for this Measure in order that you may liberate the Church from this besetting discussion for the main work to which it is called among the people of this country. We are living in a new world. Those who look upon that world with fresh eyes of hope and desire are impatient of old controversies. To them they seem the mere echoes of—Old, unhappy, far-off things,And battles long ago.The young of both sexes and of all classes—your Lordships know well those whom I mean—are they disputing about the vesture of the clergy or the definition of mysteries which, in proportion to their greatness, transcend definition? They are thinking of something much more fundamental. In view of the tendencies of thought and life in this new world, they are asking: What is the warrant for the Christian faith? What is the authority for the Christian law of life? The workers in our cities, are they concerning themselves about these matters? Or are they 985 concerning themselves about whether they can see, in the Church which preaches them, greater signs of that peace and unity and good will and Christian spirit which they are exhorted to bring into their own industries?
They ask the Church to turn from these disputes about forms and words and to bring the great spiritual resources which are given to it to the task of lifting the general standard of life of our people. These majorities that have been so often mentioned represent, believe me, a sincere desire on the part of clergy and laity to close their ranks on the basis of this Measure and henceforth, as never before, to live, praying and working together, for the service of God and of the people. If you reject this Measure
§ you will certainly send the Church back-to waste its energies upon renewed strife. You will divert it from the main stream of national life into a backwater noisy with internal strife. If you are willing to vote for this Measure, and to vote with a decisive majority, and if your example is followed in another place, then this great controversy will be taken out of the way and your Lordships will have done something to set the Church free to fulfil its high task of strengthening the ties that still bind this nation to the Christian Faith.
§ On Question, Whether the Motion shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided—Contents, 241; Not-Contents, 88.987
|Canterbury, L. Abp.||Devon, E.||Hampden, V.|
|Drogheda, E.||Inchcape, V.|
|Cave, V. (L. Chancellor.)||Durham, E.||Lee of Fareham, V.|
|Ferrers, E.||Peel, V.|
|York, L. Abp.||Feversham, E.||Portman, V.|
|Fitzwilliam, E.||Ridley, V.|
|Balfour, E. (L. President.)||Fortescue, E.||Sidmouth, V.|
|Graham, E. (D. Montrose.)||Tredegar, V.|
|Salisbury, M. (L. Privy Seal.)||Grey, E.||Ullswater, V.|
|Haig, E.||Younger of Leckie, V.|
|Beaufort, D.||Iveagh, E.||Bath and Wells, L. Bp.|
|Devonshire, D.||Jellicoe, E.||Bradford, L. Bp.|
|Northumberland, D.||Lucan, E.||Bristol, L. Bp.|
|Rutland, D.||Lytton, E.||Carlisle, L. Bp.|
|Somerset, D.||Malmesbury, E.||Chelmsford, L. Bp.|
|Wellington, D.||Mar and Kellie, E.||Chester, L. Bp.|
|Midleton, E.||Chichester, L. Bp.|
|Abergavenny, M.||Onslow, E.||Durham, L. Bp.|
|Bath, M.||Plymouth, E.||Hereford, L. Bp.|
|Bristol, M.||Radnor, E.||Lichfield, L. Bp.|
|Camden, M.||Sandwich, E.||Liverpool, L. Bp.|
|Normanby, M.||Scarbrough, E.||London, L. Bp.|
|Northampton, M.||Selborne, E.||Manchester, L. Bp.|
|Queensberry, M.||Spencer, E.||Oxford, L. Bp.|
|Winchester, M.||Stamford, E.||Rochester, L. Bp.|
|Shaftesbury, E. (L. Steward.)||Strafford, E.||St. Albans, L. Bp.|
|Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)||Sheffield, L. Bp.|
|Verulam, E.||Southwark, L. Bp.|
|Cromer, E. (L. Chamberlain.)||Westmorland, E.||Wakefield, L. Bp.|
|Wharncliffe, E.||Winchester, L. Bp.|
|Ancaster, E.||Yarborough, E.|
|Bathurst, E.||Aberconway, L.|
|Beatty, E.||Allendale, V.||Aldenham, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Burnham, V.||Ampthill, L.|
|Birkenhead, E.||Cecil of Chelwood, V.||Annesley, L. (V. Valentia.)|
|Breadalbane, E.||Chaplin, V.||Armstrong, L.|
|Buxton, E.||Chelmsford, V.||Ashcombe, L.|
|Cairns, E.||Cobham, V.||Ashton of Hyde, L.|
|Caithness, E.||Cowdray, V.||Avebury, L.|
|Carlisle, E.||D'Abernon, V.||Balfour of Burleigh, L.|
|Cavan, E.||De Vesci, V.||Barnard, L.|
|Cawdor, E.||Dunedin, V.||Berwick, L.|
|Clarendon, E.||Esher, V.||Biddulph, L.|
|Cottenham, E.||Falmouth, V.||Blanesburgh, L.|
|Cranbrook, E.||Gladstone, V.||Bledisloe, L.|
|De La Warr, E.||Haldane, V.||Blythswood, L.|
|Bolton, L.||Gainford, L.||Parmoor, L.|
|Boston, L.||Gifford, L.||Phillimore, L.|
|Bowes, L. (E. Strathmore and Kinghorn.)||Glanely, L.||Poltimore, L.|
|Gorell, L.||Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.)|
|Brancepeth, L. (V. Boyne.)||Hampton, L.|
|Brownlow, L.||Hardinge of Penshurst, L.||Queenborough, L.|
|Buckland, L.||Harlech, L.||Ravensworth, L.|
|Byron, L.||Harris, L.||Rayleigh, L.|
|Cawley, L.||Hatherton, L.||Revelstoke, L.|
|Chalmers, L.||Hawke, L.||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Charnwood, L. [Teller.]||Hemphill, L.||Romilly, L.|
|Churston, L.||Heneage, L.||Roundway, L.|
|Clinton, L.||Heytesbury, L.||Sackville, L.|
|Cochrane of Cults, L.||Hunsdon of Hunsdon, L.||St. Audries, L.|
|Colebrooke, L.||Ilkeston, L.||St. Levan, L.|
|Conyers, L.||Inverforth, L.||Samdys, L.|
|Cottesloe, L.||Islington, L.||Shute, L. (V. Barrington.)|
|Cozens-Hardy, L.||Kenlis, L. (M. Headfort.)||Somerleyton, L.|
|Crawshaw, L.||Kilmaine, L.||Somerton, L. (E. Normanton.)|
|Cromwell, L.||Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Latymer, L.||Southborough, L.|
|Cunliffe, L.||Leigh, L.||Southwark, L.|
|Darling, L.||Loch, L.||Stanmore, L.|
|Daryngton, L. [Teller.]||Manners, L.||Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.|
|Dawnay, L. (V. Downe.)||Meldrum, L. (M. Huntly.)|
|Dawson of Penn, L.||Merrivale, L.||Sudeley, L.|
|De L'Isle and Dudley, L.||Merthyr, L.||Sudley, L. (E. Arran.)|
|de Mauley, L.||Meston, L.||Thomson, L.|
|Decies, L.||Methuen, L.||Thurlow, L.|
|Denman, L.||Minster, L. (M. Conyngham.)||Trevethin, L.|
|Elgin, L. (E. Elgin and Kincardine.)||Monk Bretton, L.||Trevor, L.|
|Monkswell, L.||Wargrave, L.|
|Elphinstone, L.||Montagu of Beaulieu, L.||Waring, L.|
|Ernle, L.||Mountgarret, L. (V. Mountgarret.)||Warrington of Clyffe, L.|
|Fairlie, L. (E. Glasgow.)||Wemyss, L. (E. Wemyss.)|
|FitzWalter, L.||Muir Mackenzie, L.||Wenlock, L.|
|Forester, L.||Newton, L.||Wigan, L. (E. Crawford.)|
|Forres, L.||Northbourne, L.||Wrenbury, L.|
|Forster, L.||O'Hagan, L.||Wynford, L.|
|Gage, L. (V. Gage.)||Ormonde, L. (M. Ormonde.)|
|Argyll, D.||Colville of Culross, V.||Hanworth, L.|
|Craigavan, V.||Hastings, L.|
|Ailesbury, M.||Devonport, V. [Teller.]||Hayter, L.|
|Dufferin and Ava, M.||Falkland, V.||Hindlip, L.|
|Exeter, M.||Hill, V.||Holden, L.|
|Lincolnshire, M. (L. Great Chamberlain.)||St. Davids, V.||Illingworth, L.|
|Sumner, V.||Kinnaird, L.|
|Templetown, V.||Kylsant, L.|
|Albemarle, E.||Lawrence, L.|
|Bradford, E.||Loftus, L. (M. Ely.)|
|Chesterfield, E.||Norwich, L. Bp.||Lovel and Holland, L. (E. Egmont.)|
|Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.)||Worcester, L. Bp.|
|Ducie, E.||Anslow, L.||Marshall of Chipstead, L.|
|Halsbury, E.||Arnold, L.||Mereworth, L. (Lord Oranmore and Browne.)|
|Herewood, E.||Banbury of Southam, L.|
|Howe, E.||Basing, L.||Middleton, L.|
|Innes, E. (D. Roxburghe.)||Carson, L.||Monckton, L. (V. Galway.)|
|Kimberley, E.||Chaworth, L. (E. Meath.)||Monson, L.|
|Leicester, E.||Clwyd, L.||Monteagle, L. (M. Sligo.)|
|Lindsey, E.||Cushendun, L.||Mostyn, L.|
|Macclesfield, E.||Danesfort, L.||Napier of Magdala, L.|
|Morton, E.||Daresbury, L.||Oriel, L. (V. Massereene.)|
|Northbrook, E.||Deramore, L.||Ormathwaite, L.|
|Roden, E.||Dorchester, L.||Raglan, L.|
|Stanhope, E.||Fairfax of Cameron, L.||Ranfurly, L. (E. Ranfurly.)|
|Faringdon, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Bertie of Thame, V.||Fisher, L.||Rowallan, L.|
|Churchill, V.||Gisborough, L.||Ruthven of Gowrie, L.|
|Saye and Sele, L.||Sydenham of Combe, L.||Walsingham, L.|
|Strachie, L.||Templemore, L. [Teller.]||Wavertree, L.|
|Strathspey, L.||Tweeddale, L. (M. Tweeddale.)||Whitburgh, L.|
|Swansea, L.||Wittenham, L.|
§ Resolved in the affirmative and Motion agreed to accordingly.990
§ House adjourned at twenty-five minutes before eight o'clock.