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the Anglican Church with any disdain, though to them I seem contemptuous. To them of course it is "Aut Cæsar aut nullus," but not to me. It may be a great creation. though it be not divine, and this is how I judge of it. Men who abjure the divine right of kings would be very indignant, if on that account they were considered disloyal. And so I recognize in the Anglican Church' a time-honoured institution, of noble historical memories, a monument of ancient wisdom, a momentous arm of political strength, a great national organ, a source of vast popular advantage, and, to a certain point, a witness and teacher of religious truth. I do not think that, if what I have written about it since I have been a Catholic, be equitably considered as a whole, I shall be found to have taken any other view than this; but that it is something sacred, that it is an oracle of revealed doctrine, that it can claim a share in St. Ignatius or St. Cyprian, that it can take the rank, contest the teaching, and stop the path of the Church of St. Peter, that it can call itself "the Bride of the Lamb," this is the view of it which simply disappeared from my mind on my conversion, and which it would be almost a miracle to reproduce. "I went by, and lo! it was gone; I sought it, but its place could nowhere be found;" and nothing can bring it back to me. And, as to its possession of an episcopal succession from the time of the Apostles, well, it may have it, and if the Holy See ever so decide, I will believe it, as being the decision of a higher judgment than my own; but, for myself, I must have St. Philip's gift, who saw the sacerdotal character on the forehead of a gaily-attired youngster, before I can by my own wit acquiesce in it, for antiquarian arguments are altogether unequal to the urgency of visible facts. Why is it that I must pain dear friends by saying

' [See page 254.]

so, and kindle a sort of resentment against me in the kindest of hearts? But I must, though to do it be not only a grief to me, but most impolitic at the moment. Anyhow, this is my mind, and, if to have it, if to have betrayed it, before now, involuntarily, by my words or my deeds, if on a fitting occasion, as now, to have avowed it, if all this be a proof of the justice of the charge brought against me, of having "turned round upon my MotherChurch with contumely and slander," in this sense, but in no other sense, do I plead guilty to it without a word in extenuation.

In no other sense, surely. The Church of England has been the instrument of Providence in conferring great benefits on me ;-had I been born in Dissent perhaps I should never have been baptized; had I been born an English Presbyterian, perhaps I should never have known our Lord's divinity; had I not come to Oxford, perhaps I never should have heard of the visible Church, or of Tradition, or other Catholic doctrines. And as I have received so much good from the Anglican Establishment itself, can I have the heart, or rather the want of charity, considering that it does for so many others, what it has done for me, to wish to see it overthrown? I have no such wish while it is what it is, and while we are so small a body. Not for its own sake, but for the sake of the many congregations to which it ministers, I will do nothing against it. While Catholics are so weak in England, it is doing our work; and though it does no harm in a measure, at present the balance is in our favour. What our duty would be at another time, and in other circumstances, supposing, for instance, the Establishment lost its dogmatic faith, or at least did not preach it, is another matter altogether. In secular history we read of hostile nations having long truces, and renewing them from time to time, and that


seems to be the position which the Catholic Church may fairly take up at present in relation to the Anglican Establishment.

Doubtless the National Church has hitherto been a serviceable breakwater against doctrinal errors more fundamental than its own. How long this will last in the years now before us, it is impossible to say, for the Nation drags down its Church to its own level; but still the National Church has the same sort of influence over the nation that a periodical has upon the party which it represents, and my own idea of a Catholic's fitting attitude towards the National Church, in this its supreme hour, is that of assisting and sustaining it, if it be in our power, in the interest of dogmatic truth. I should wish to avoid everything (except, indeed, under the direct call of duty, and this is a material exception,) which went to weaken its hold upon the public mind, or to unsettle its establishment, or to embarrass and lessen its maintenance of those great Christian and Catholic principles and doctrines which it has, up to this time, successfully preached. (“Apologia,” PP. 339-342.)


The Oratory, Birmingham,
August 5, 1868.


You ask me what I precisely mean, in my "Apologia,” . . by saying, apropos of Anglican Orders, that " antiquarian arguments are altogether unequal to the urgency of visible facts" I will try to explain :

1 1 [Vide page 64.]

I. The enquiry into Anglican orders has ever been to me of the class which I must call dreary, for it is dreary, surely, to have to grope into the minute intricate passages and obscure corners of past occurrences in order to ascertain whether this man was ever consecrated; whether that man used a valid form; whether a certain sacramental intention came up to the mark; whether the report or register of an ecclesiastical act can be cleared of suspicion. On giving myself to consider the question, I never have been able to arrive at anything higher than a probable conclusion, which is most unsatisfactory, except to antiquarians, who delight in researches into the past for their own sake.

II. Now, on the other hand, what do I mean by "visible facts?" I mean such definite facts as throw a broad antecedent light upon what may be presumed, in a case in which sufficient evidence is not forthcoming. For instance :

1. The Apostolical Succession, its necessity, and its grace, is not an Anglican tradition, though it is a tradition found in the Anglican Church. By contrast, our Lord's divinity is an Anglican traditionevery one, high and low, holds it. It is not only in Prayer Book and Catechism, but in the mouths of all professors of Anglicanism. Not to believe it, is to be no Anglican; and any persons in authority, for three hundred years, who were suspected to doubt or explain it away, were marked men, as Dr. Colenso is now marked. And they have been so few that they could be counted. Not such is the Apostolic succession; and considering that the Church is the "columna et firmamentum veritatis," and is ever bound to stir up the gift that is in her, there is surely a strong presumption that the Anglican body has not, what it does not profess to have. I wonder how many of its bishops and deans hold the doctrine at this time; some who do not, occur to the mind at once. One knows what was the case thirty or forty years ago by the famous saying1 of Blomfield, Bishop of London.

2. If there is a true Succession, there is a true Eucharist; if there is not a true Eucharist, there is no true Succession. Now, what is the presumption here? I think it is Mr. Alexander Knox who says, or suggests, that if so great a gift be given, it must have a rite. I add, if it has a rite, it must have a custos of the rite. Who is the custos of the Anglican Eucharist? The Anglican clergy? Could I, without distressing or offending an Anglican, describe what sort of custodes they have been, and are to their Eucharist? "O bone custos," in the words of the poet, "cui commendavi Filium Meum!"

[Vide page 21.]

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Is it not charitable towards the bulk of the Anglican clergy to hope, to believe, that so great a treasure has not been given to their keeping? And, would our Lord leave Himself for centuries in such hands? Inasmuch, then, as "the Sacrament of the body and blood of Christ," in the Anglican communion is without protective ritual and jealous guardianship, there seems to me a strong presumption that neither the real gift, nor its appointed guardians, are to be found in that communion.

3. Previous baptism is the condition of the valid administration of the other sacraments. When I was in the Anglican church I saw enough of the lax administration of baptism, even among High Churchmen, though they did not, of course, intend it, to fill me with great uneasiness. Of course there are definite persons, whom one might point out, whose baptisms are sure to be valid. But my argument has nothing to do with present baptisms. Bishops were baptized, not lately, but as children; the present bishops were consecrated by other bishops, they again by others. What I hav seen in the Anglican Church makes it very difficult for me to deny that every now and then a bishop was a consecrator who had never been baptized. Some bishops have been brought up in the north as Presbyterians, others as Dissenters, others as Low Churchmen, others have been baptized in the careless perfunctory way once so common. There is, then, much reason to believe that some consecrators were not bishops for the simple reason that, formally speaking, they were not Christians. But, at least, there is a great presumption that where evidently our Lord has not provided a rigid rule of baptism, he has not provided a valid ordination.

By the light of such presumptions as these, I interpret the doubtful issues of the antiquarian argument, and feel deeply that if Anglican orders are unsafe with reference to the actual evidence producible for their validity, much more unsafe are they when considered in their surroundings.1

Most sincerely yours,


(Essays Crit. and Hist. vol. 2, p. 109.)

[The question of "Anglican Orders" is discussed more fully at p. 258.]

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