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inference is, that the power of appointing commissioners for this purpose did not reside in the crown, without the sanction of the legislature, otherwise that act of parliament was an infringement of the royal prerogative; but the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge were excepted out of that act. Now it is absurd to say that, being excepted out of the operation of that act, they still remained subject to visitation by royal commission, by virtue of the royal prerogative. If so, the exception was a nullity, as well as the act of parliament itself. There are several acts of parliament besides (which I have not time to look to carefully) enabling the crown, in cases of this nature, and I think sufficiently establishing the proposition, that the crown has not such a power, except where it is enabled by the legislature. But I suppose the answer to this will be, that the commission will only be one of inquiry. Now the right of inquiry seenis to me to embrace everything. The right to inquire can only emanate from the source which has the right to determine. Inquiry without any end is frivolous, nugatory, a stultification of all parties concerned in it, a beginning without an end,-in short, a thing too absurd to be recognised by any principle of law. Besides which, the right of inquiry is, in itself, an aggressive right, infringing in some degree upon the ease and security of the parties subject to it. It must be accompanied by some privation of time and leisure, and some expense, both of comfort and money, to individuals. In such a case as the present, it has, besides, something of a penal character, and most especially of an inquisitorial character, which our constitutional law abhors. If colleges are private bodies, they are as much, in the eye of the law, individuals, as private persons. It is penal and inquisitorial, and utterly repugnant to all our notions of liberty and right, that private persons should be subjected to wanton, frivolous investigation of their rights. In fact, such a principle is utterly unknown to our law, and condemned by it by every constitutional statute, from Magna Charta downwards, as well as by all our courts of law. However, this is getting into too deep a subject. I cannot lay my hands upon the case of Magdalen College, which we wanted to refer to; it is most likely an old case, and those which I have referred to will, I think, throw more light upon the subject. There is a case in 1st Vesey and Beane's Reports —the Mayor &c. of Colchester v. Lowten-very important, as shewing the private and irresponsible nature of corporations, and applying to the whole doctrine of the present question. In conclusion, let me earnestly recommend to you to lose no time in putting yourselves into the hands of some eminent and safe lawyers; and so wishing you well through your fight, believe me, yours ever,
INNOVATIONS ATTRIBUTED TO CLERGYMEN IN OR NEAR
OXFORD. MY DEAR SIR,—The accompanying letter explains itself; I have only to add, that it appears with the perfect concurrence of Mr. Townsend, and is not to be looked upon as controversy with him, but as information conveyed to him, and, through him, to those who may have been influenced by his having attached belief to the reports in question, He only wishes me to explain (being himself engaged in church business) that he was induced to give credit to these reports in consequence of their remaining uncontradicted. His sources were, the pamphlet published at Oxford some time since, the “ Christian Observer,' and private information. There were obvious reasons, in the nature of the case, why it was not thought necessary to notice the two former of these sources, but these may not have been so clear to one at a distance; so that Mr. Townsend may have construed this silence into admission. Now, however, he very candidly says—“ The authorities on which I depended, and the exaggerated reports I heard, certainly misled me. The evils of which I believed the church had reason to complain were much misrepresented to me, and on that misrepresentation I acted.”
A statement so candid and explicit must increase the respect felt for Mr. Townsend, and may, it is hoped, produce greater caution in other quarters, in circulating charges which have not been fully investigated. I should say, that I claim Mr. Townsend's agreement no further than I state, not for any doctrine, as that of “ the oblation." Yours, very faithfully,
E. B. Pusey.
To the Rev. G. Townsend. MY DEAR SIR, -A portion of your late Charge has been supposed to be founded on reports circulated about some of the Oxford clergy, and to allude to them : it was not worth while to notice them, stated as they were; it is different when commented upon by one in local authority. For the responsibility belonging both to the office and the occasion gives them a character which they had not before.
The passage in your Charge is thus reported—
“With regard to the first of these, (the duties connected with the rubric,) I have heard with surprise and grief that several of our brethren in the south, believing themselves to be justified by the customs of a primitive antiquity, have lately made alterations, which must by the people of their congregations be regarded as innovations, and which have begun a new era of observances of very questionable utility in the church. Some have added to the surplice a peculiar kind of cross ; others have placed the bread and wine on a small additional table near the Lord's table, or altar; others have introduced needless bowings, and unusual attitudes of devotion.”
The charges then supposed to allude to the Oxford clergy are1. That they have set up their notions of primitive antiquity against the rubrics of their own church; 2, that they have introduced what their congregations must look upon as innovations, and as instances of these, have, 3, added a cross to the surplice; 4, placed the bread and wine on a small additional table; 5, introduced needless bowings, and 6, unusual attitudes of devotion.
Let me tell you the facts. And, first, the whole gravamen of the charge is, the preference of “primitive antiquity" to the rubrics of
their own church; or, as you afterwards say,
“reviving the usages of antiquity among us,” in opposition, as it would seem, “to the ordinances of their church." This would be a serious charge : the fact is, that no one clergyman in or near Oxford has done any one thing as " being justified by primitive antiquily," but that whaterer has been done, has been done in obedience to the rubrics, or to carry them out into practice. This, of course, alters the whole character of the charge, since they acted, not from private judgment, but in obedience and conformity, as they thought, in every case, to the authority of the church.
2. No one alteration has been made in any one church or chapel in or near Oxford. Nothing, as I said, has been done without the sanction of our church; and when any custom has been revived, (which has in these days fallen into disuse, more or less,) it has been done in new churches, or to new congregations; so careful have these clergy been not to startle their congregations by anything to them an indovation! Nor have any congregations thought what has been done unusual; only certain “ brethren came in privily to spy out our liberty."
3. In no one church, or chapel, has any“ needless bowing” been introduced : clergymen, indeed, here always bow at the name of our blessed Lord, wherever it occurs; but this you would not think needless, though I understand that some have not scrupled to disuse it, even in the Creed. In the cathedral, the dean and canons have, from time immemorial, on leaving the choir, bowed to the altar.
4. No cross has been added to the surplice; only one clergyman, who was at the time at Oxford, but not connected with any parish church, (thinking this to be enjoined by the rubric prefixed to the Morning Prayer) " wore in the time of his ministration such ornaments as were in this church of England, by the authority of parliament, in the second year of the reign of King Edward the Sixth.” The scarf had then, it is said, two small black crosses, one at each end; it is a simple, unostentatious dress; but he wore it, not as “thinking himself justified by primitive antiquity,” but in obedience to a rubric, as he thought, as that rubric is explained by Bishop Cosins and other eminent authorities. If we allow ourselves in what is the less rigid interpretation of that rubric, surely we may be content with this, without censuring those who adhere to it strictly. There is no uniformity at present; in some places the university hood is worn, in others, not; in some, persons neither graduates of divinity nor chaplains wear a scarf, in others, not; let every one (where his ecclesiastical superiors do not direct otherwise) do that which he is “fully persuaded in his own mind;” and this in lesser things as in greater. Whether the dress were that of Edward VI., I cannot say; it is enough for the principle that it was adopted as being sanctioned by the church; and besides, one instance does not imply a system.
5. Of“ unusual attitudes of devotion" I know of none. I am led, however, to suppose, that you mean turning towards the east during prayers. Yet I suppose that there is not a church or chapel in Oxford where the congregation does not turn to the east during the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds, never having ceased to do so. In the cathedral,
the litany, and the prayers of the ordination service, have always been read (the latter by the bishop of the diocese) with the face towards the
The rubric, also, in saying, “ he that readeth the lessons so standing and turning himself as he may best be heard of all such as are present,” implies, that he was before turned some other way, Bishop Sparrow, in his “ Rationale of the Common Prayer," so argues from the rubric, (the passage has been in part quoted by Bishop Mant, in the prayer-book edited for the Christian Knowledge Society ;) he says also, “ very reasonable was this usage,” speaks of it as the “ ancient custom of the church of England," and of its being “continued to about his time.” In truth, those large massive structures which are still called reading-desks, are the innovations; it is quite an innovation to pray towards the west. The very name “reading" (not praying) desks, the existence of the “eagles," which only supported the Bible, as well as those other desks which Bishop Cosins mentions, shew that the custom of praying with the face to the people, or (as it is called)" reading prayers to the people” is the innovation; and a very mischievous innovation it has been, in that our clergy are continually tempted to think of teaching their people how to understand the prayers, and to pray emphatically, instead of thinking of Almighty God, and praying to him.
Thus, then, it would have been no innovation in itself, but rather a reverting to what was the general practice of our church, as implied by our rubric, and traces of which remain at the present day; but, as I said, in no one congregation has any one innovation been introduced. In two places only has the ancient practice been revived; the one, a chapel newly built; the other, a church where daily service has been introduced, and is performed in the chancel; in both cases the congregation is new, and so careful has the minister been not to introduce what would to his congregation be an innovation, that in the Lord'sday service, performed in the nave, he continues to kneel as before.
6. The remaining statement, that “others have placed the bread and wine on a small additional table, near the Lord's table, or altar," is ambiguous. For what would, to most, unhappily seem to be the innovation, would be the not allowing the bread and wine to be put upon the altar by any one, as the churchwardens, the clerk, or the sexton, but that the minister should do it himself. For it is this which contains the only question of principle. Now this is expressly prescribed by the rubric prefixed to the prayer for the church militant, which bids us “ then place them on the table.” This rubric existed in Edward the Sixth's first book, was omitted (among some other very miserable changes) in the second, and was restored after the Savoy conference. Its meaning, too, is historically known, that it was the intention of our church, by inserting it, to restore the primitive custom of offering the bread and wine upon the altar by the hands of the priest, in commemoration of the one atoning sacrifice upon the cross ; and, to express this in words, they inserted then, for the first time, the word “ oblations" after “alms, which was the old received name for this kind of offering. In this, then, the main question, you would feel that they are the innovators, and offend against the rubric, as well as
against decency and order, who allow the elements to be placed upon the table any how. Nicholls says strongly (Comin. to Common Prayer)
“I cannot imagine how so bold an innovation has obtained, for the bread and wine to be placed on the Lord's table by churchwardens, clerks, sextons, or anybody, besides the persons whom the church has obliged to do it.”
And Nelson relates of Bishop Bull “ Whenever he officiated at the altar, it was exactly agreeable to the directions of the rubric, and with the gravity and seriousness of a primitive priest. He always placed the elements of bread and wine upon the altar himself, after he had received them from the church wardens, or clerk, or had taken them from some convenient place, where they were laid for that purpose. His constant practice was, to offer them up upon the holy table in the first place, in conformity to the practice of the ancient church, before he began the communion service ; and this the rubric after the offertory seemeth to require of all her priests, by declaring, that when there is a communion, the priest shall then place upon the altar so much bread and wine as he shall think sufficient."-pp. 52, 53.
In this (which alone involves any principle) you would agree; and yet this is just the point in which a certain class of religionists, who read your remarks, would disagree. Now for the actual practice at Oxford: in one church, certainly, the mode enjoined by the rubric had never been discontinued; it has the old prothesis: in two others, a recess near the altar, within the rails, is used for this purpose: in a fourth, the elements are placed upon a chest, (and so a high dignitary of our church tells me, that in his church, from time immemorial, a linen cloth had been spread on a flat monument, and the elements placed thereon :) in a new church and chapel only (there being no provision of this sort), a small table has been introduced upon which to place the elements. The rubric does not sanction any one of these modes more than the other ; it gives no directions whence the elements are to be taken, but only when, and by whom, they are to be placed upon the table; surely, then, herein clergymen are left to their own discretion : whether they shall then be received from the churchwardens, or clerk, as Bishop Bull sometimes did-taken from some convenient place (as he did at others)-or in any of the other ways as above named—or out of a basket, as is elsewhere done—the church has not decided. If it be done decently and reverently, it is surely free for each to decide, until the church shall do so; and since the church reverted to the ancient rite in what she did express, it might be most in accordance with her to follow that custom in what must be done somehow, though she has not expressed it. I will only add, that in this, which is the only practice extensively adopted, it has been by parochial clergy, not bound together by any tie of party (as has been given out), but simply obeying, severally, the rubric as they thought best. And before so much is said in journals &c. about the way in which these clergymen wish to obey the rubric, it would be well that those who criticise it, should see that they obey that rubric themselves at all.
And now let me just recapitulate what it is which has been thus blazoned about and exaggerated :—one clergymen has worn a cross upon his scarf, in compliance, as he thought, with our rubric; two clergyVOL. XII.Dec. 1837.