« AnteriorContinuar »
We may therefore naturally wonder what chance ordinary people (not to speak of the colliers and street Arabs' to whom the Ritualists profess especially to address themselves) can have of understanding subtleties of doctrine which are thus said to elude the theological professors of Oxford and Cambridge; and for ourselves, we wish to speak with all possible diffidence.
Transubstantiation. Mr. Medd protests against it, * and the Bishop of St. David's expresses his belief that even the most advanced of them have not, “in fact, outstripped those very ample bounds which are authorised by the language of eminent divines of our Church, as to the doctrine of the Eucharistic presence' (p. 98).† Yet we find in the Directorium’ language which seems to imply a belief as gross as that of the miracle of Bolsena. £ And, while Transubstantiation itself is disavowed, the Ritualists are zealous for practices which were brought into the Church in connection with it, such as the adoration of the consecrated wafer and the celebration of the festival of Corpus Christi, which in the Roman Church is expressly devoted to its honour.
With respect to the idea of a sacrifice in the Eucharist, we need not say that many of our most esteemed divines have held language which, although not incompatible with that of the Prayer-book, gives a prominence to the doctrine which it has not there.* For, as the Bishop of St. David's observes :
* The Church and the World,' p. 343.
† Our readers may be presumed to know something of the controversy whichi has arisen in consequence of the alteration made in a well-known verse of the Christian Year'-by desire, it is said, of the author on his death-bed. To us the most painful part of the affair is the defence which Dr. Pusey sets up in behalf of his deceased friend for not having made the alteration earlier, on the ground that the expression “present in the heart, not in the hands,' might be interpreted according to the parallel of ‘I will have mercy and not sacrifice, as meaning that the objective presence was of no avail, unless our Lord was received within the cleansed abode of the heart.' This,' says Dr. Pusey, . is plainly not the obvious meaning of the words; but it satisfied him.' ('Times,' Dec. 13, 1866.) Thus it wouid seem that, according to his most intimate friend, Mr. Keble was, for perhaps thirty years, in the habit of explaining his own words to himself in an unnatural sense, while he allowed them to go forth in hundreds of thousands of copies with the knowledge that to all readers they would carry that obvious meaning,' which he had originally taken from Hooker, and which is alone consistent with the general drift of the poem. It is sad indeed to read such a statement, on such authority, as to one who has long been revered, not only throughout the English Church, but far beyond its limits. 4. For instance, as to the celebrant,' it is said — He takes care that any particles of the Blessed Body and Blood which may have adhered to his fingers be reverently removed over the cup' (p. 104). And of the • server,' • He should remember that the vessels have touched Christ; that the sacred vestments have been very near to Him,' &c. (p. 259).
§ The Directorium,' p. 125, says that this is being restored very generally amongst us.'
PrayerWe may observe that Mr. Medd seems to us quite mistaken in supposing the fervid language of Charles Wesley's hymns to imply any peculiar doctrine of Eucharistic sacrifice.-/* The Church and the World,' pp. 348-9.)
'In the Anglican office, the idea which is almost exclusively predominant, is that of Communion. There is, indeed, an offertory and an oblation of common things for sacred and charitable uses. There is mention of a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, which appears to include the whole rite ; and the communicants “ offer and present themselves, their souls and bodies, as a living sacrifice." But of any other kind of sacrifice, and particularly of any sacrificial oblation of the consecrated elements, there is not a word. The consecration is immediately followed by the Communion, which is the great business of the whole. . . . That which the Council of Trent declares to be the true and proper sacrifice of the mass, is an offering as to which our Church is absolutely silent.'-(pp. 94-5.)
Again, he speaks of The predominance assigned to that sacrificial aspect of the Lord's Supper, which it is so difficult even to detect in the English ServiceBook, over that of the Sacrament, which there alone meets the eye.' -(p. 102.)
And of the language used by some of the Ritualists—that it is a 'sacrifice of praise and propitiation, in which our Lord through His own presence communicates the virtue of His most precious death and passion to all His faithful, living and departed,' the Bishop observes :
'I do not see how this language is to be reconciled with the doctrine of our Church, even as expounded by divines of that school which takes the highest view of the eucharistic sacrifice.'-(p. 100.)
How, if the Ritualists really believe the doctrines which they profess as to that sacrifice, and as to a localized presence of the Saviour on the altar,† they can go calmly through the wretched fiddlefaddle which the · Directorium' prescribes, it is not for us to say. Nor shall we inquire how the observation of a set of petty and burdensome rules, entirely opposed in their complexity to the mind of our Church as declared in the Prefaces to the Prayer-book, may be expected to affect those who officiate according to the new system ; more especially when they must feel that almost at every step they are evading the plain meaning of the Church's laws and acting in defiance of their ecclesiastical superiors. But as to the manner in which such performances tell on the minds of educated persons in general, we may quote the speeches of the Bishop of London and the Dean of Westminster in the course of the late Convocation debates :
+ I have myself heard a clergyman preaching say that our Lord would presently descend on the altar, to be sacrificed again for us.'-Letter read by Archdeacon Wordsworth in Convocation, June 27, 1866.
tell • The Church and the World,' p. 45. * Speech of Canon Oxenden, in Convocation, June 26, 1866.
'I have heard,' says the Bishop, ‘of a distinguished Divine of very calm mind being present at one of the churches where these practices were resorted to, with a view of satisfying himself as to what was going on, and being so shocked that he felt he could not, without a compromise of all that was dear to him, partake of the Lord's Supper at the hands of those who were officiating-so like was it to the Roman fashion.'
We cannot imagine how it should have been otherwise ; and not only this, but the agitations excited by these gentlemen must, in all likelihood, even intrude into the mind elsewhere than in their own churches, and disturb it with thoughts of doubt and controversy at the very times when it is most desirable that all such things should be shut out. But the Dean of Westminster's instance is yet more remarkable :
Suppose a very influential member of the congregation-say the founder of the church, who has contributed munificently to the building, and appointed a clergyman to minister in it, under the impression, perhaps even the understanding—that these unusual practices would not occur, finds them against his will adopted, and his own views so thoroughly set at nought by the clergyman, that he, the founder himself, is unable to take part in the services of the church which he has built. ... This is not an imaginary case.' And we suppose that there can be little doubt as to the application of the words. The Ritualists, however, tell us that the poor and uneducated, who are hopelessly puzzled by the wicked man' and dearly beloved,' are to be taught by their extravagant ceremonialism. If so, the colliers and the street Arabs' must have an intelligence which has been denied to those of their superiors in rank and education who are unable to make anything of the details of services in foreign churches. But Dr. Littledale brings forward the example
of St. Chrysostom, who is said to have drawn off the people of Constantinople from heresy by outdoing the Arians in the splendour of their ceremonial. No doubt this is one way to fill a church ; but so, as has been truly said, will any sort of eccentricity in the minister ; † and surely it is a degrading thing to rest our cause on pompous displays in which we might easily be surpassed by paganism. We are told that Ritualism is the way to overcome dissent: nay, according to Mr. Blenkinsopp, the great Catholic revival is now
drawing all the most earnest and most devout of the various Protestant bodies towards the Church and leaving only the political Dissenters behind.' * But we believe that Mr. Bonner Hopkins was more correct when, as one who had ministered in town populations,” he expressed his belief that nothing within his recollection had given so great a check to the spread of Church feeling and Church principles amongst the middle and tradesman class as this ritualistic movement.' † So Canon Blakesley declares his opinion that, “if we look the country through, you will find that it has been more Puritanized by these practices than Romanized.' I To the same purpose speaks the Bishop of St. David's (pp. 87-8, 117-8). And the congregationalist Dr. Vaughan tells us that the success of the Ritualists hitherto has been in rupting the members of the Church of England, not in making converts from beyond her pale.’s Indeed, even if the new movement should gain a strong hold on the shopkeeping-class, we cannot bring ourselves to regard that event as an unmixed benefit to society; for what confidence could we have in the weights, the measures, or the assurances of tradesmen who should have been imbued with the casuistical principles of the school with which we have been dealing ?
The Ritualists are said to be indefatigable in pastoral work; and, little as we like their own boasts of this, we believe it on the testimony of the Bishop of London and other witnesses. But this is surely not peculiar to them; and if their zeal be at present conspicuous beyond that of others, the reason is to be sought in the novelty and freshness of their movement. of Mr. Gould's friends, the Franciscans, may serve as a parallel and a warning. We read with admiration (although it is mixed with a ludicrous sense of their eccentricities) the story of Francis and his first brethren, or Thomas of Eccleston's account of the Franciscan settlement in England; but we know that never was there a religious order which so soon lost its first love, or which became more thoroughly corrupted. The lessons of history teach us in this respect the distrust which everything else about the new party inspires by its very appearance.
Nor can we trust their professions that they have no intention of seceding to Rome; for we have been long ago accustomed to similar professions from persons who had given greater pledges to the English Church, but who yet eventually left it. We are, indeed, continually told that since Ritualism came up, secession
* The Church and the World,' p. 213.
Speech, Feb. 9, 1866.
to Rome has become much rarer than before,* and this may probably be admitted. But the violence of the impulse to secession was over before the late ritual development began. And for the Ritualists to boast that they have kept persons within the English Church who but for them might have left it for Rome, is very much as if certain teachers of an opposite kind were to boast (as they probably might with truth) that they have kept in the Church, and even in its ministry, persons who in less enlightened days would have left it for Socinianism, or for avowed unbelief. We do not suspect the Ritualists of intending at present to join the Roman communion; but it may hereafter prove (and no one can know by what the final impulse may be given) that by forming within the English Church a party devoted to Romish doctrines and practices, they have, however unintentionally and unconsciously, been preparing for a secession on such a scale as has never yet been seen.
Perhaps the most remarkable paper in Mr. Shipley's volume is the autobiography entitled "The Last Thirty Years in the Church of England.' The authoress is evidently of a temperament which, in other circumstances, might have carried her into Montanism, into Quakerism, in its earliest and more enthusiastic form, or into pantheistic mysticism. The tale is that of a soul struggling, not after salvation, but after sanctity. She describes her father as a 'priest of the evangelical school,' and, far as she has drifted away from the opinions of that school, she still shows unmistakeable traces of her early training. As she grew up, she fell under the influence of the Tracts for the Times;' and thus she came gradually to feel a desire for the practice of confession. Her first confession was made to a London clergyman, afterwards a convert to Rome, and now dead, whom she speaks of under the name of Goodwin :
My confession occupied nearly six hours on two successive days, so long a time being necessary in consequence of the imperfect preparation which, in my ignorance, I had supposed to be sufficient.
• Years have passed since then-days and weeks of severe suffering, mental and bodily, but never anything that can be compared to those hours, and the weeks that followed them; and I know that I never can pass through anything worse on the earth-side of the grave. I think Mr. Goodwin was more severe than he would have been if he had not mistaken ignorance and nervous terror for obstinacy and evasion; but, notwithstanding, I have never since met his equal as a confessor, or ceased to be grateful for all that he did for me.
* Littledale, in 'The Church and the World, p. 30.
# We suppose this to mean nearly six hours in all, but others have read it differently.