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TOWN AND COUNTRY.
THE PRIVY COUNCIL AND THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND
THE KNIGHT'S TOMB. BY JOSEPH VEREY
CARLYLE'S FREDERICK THE GREAT.............
GILBERT RUGGE.—A TALE. BY THE AUTHOR OF A FIRST FRIENDSHIP.'
FROM THAW TO FROST
EARLY DAYS OF GEORGE I.-LADY COWPER'S DIARY.....
CHILDREN OF THIS WORLD
A CAMPAIGNER AT HOME. V.-POLITICS: THE OLD WORLD AND THE
THE INFANT BRIDAL, AND OTHER POEMS..
THE PLEASURES OF DIFFICULTY......
TO GARIBALDI. BY J. KINGSTON JAMES. WRITTEN IN OCTOBER, 1860..... 625 A REMINISCENCE OF THE OLD TIME: BEING SOME THOUGHTS
ON GOING AWAY. BY A. K. H. B...
MR. WHITWORTH AND SIR EMERSON TENNENT.
LONGMAN, GREEN, LONGMAN, ROBERTS, & GREEN.
RUSSIA AND HER DEPENDENCIES.-THE CAUcasus.
FORSAKEN. Br E. HINXMAN.
HEREAFTER. BY ASTLEY H. BALDWIN.
MR. GARDINER'S HISTORY OF JAMES I.
THE STORY OF TWO LIVES.
OUR PRIVATE PLAY.
THE NINETEENTH CENTURY.
EPITHALAMIUM.-FROM CATULLUS. CHORUS OF GIRLS AND BOYS.
A CAMPAIGNER AT HOME. IV.-ABOUT TAKING DOWN THE SUN: A PROVINCIAL LETTER.
HOW MAY A PEACE INCOME-TAX BE SUPPLANTED?
NOTICE TO CORRESPONDENTS.
Correspondents are desired to observe that all Communications must be addressed direct to the Editor.
Rejected Contributions cannot be returned.
THE PRIVY COUNCIL AND THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
THE the Privy Council in the
cases of Dr. Williams and Mr. Wilson may not have been recognized at once; but it is now pretty plain that both the public and the clergy have become alive to its real significance. It is indeed a memorable transaction, and is characteristic in the highest degree of the institution which it affects. It was received with little favour. Hardly any of the public journals by which the subject has been discussed fully stated its effects. Many of them, the most influential, did their utmost to underrate its importance; and it provoked a fierce opposition, and a somewhat remarkable protest on behalf of the two old parties in the Church. These parties suddenly find themselves confronted by a third party which they both detest, and which they had both denied to have any legitimate standing-ground in the Church of England.
people, as that there should be Whigs and Tories. When the leaders of both parties unite to repel what they obviously view as an assault on the foundations of a common faith differently conceived, the new concord is more distressing to the ordinary mind than the old discord. Something very strange indeed must have happened, it is thought, when Dr. Pusey writes a 'faithful' letter to the Record, and joins with the best-known leaders of the Evangelical school in a protest against a doctrine threatening to the structure in which both schools had hitherto been included. Let us see, in the first place, what it is that has caused so much commotion; and let us consider, in the next place, whether it is wise to be so much moved.
Mere ecclesiastical quarrels have a slight interest for the laity. They can view with an equanimity approaching to indifference the standing feud between High Churchmen and Low Churchmen. Each side has its stronghold. Each appeals to feelings deeply rooted in the English character; and neither uses language calculated to shock the religious sentiments or habits of thought of the mass of the community. That there should be Evangelicals and Tractarians; and that they should differ, and discuss the points on which they differ, appears as natural to the common run of respectable
VOL. LXIX. NO. CCCCXIII.
The cause of the commotion is that the highest authority known to the 'law of England has solemnly decided that it is not illegal for a clergyman of the Church of England to deny that the Bible contains any prophecies at all, in the common sense of the word; to deny, that is, that the coming of Christ was supernaturally predicted centuries before his birth; to affirm that parts of the Bible, usually supposed to be literally true, must be understood to be allegories or fables, or, to use an unfortunate expression, myths; to deny the historical truth of such parts of the Bible as appear to them to be untrue; to deny the goodness of such parts of it as appear to them to be immoral. It has further been declared that the law permits the clergy to hold
and teach any doctrine they please on the subject of inspiration; so that they may, if they like, assert that there is no generic difference between the canonical Scriptures and other books. In short, the effect of the judgments is that the law has laid down no positive doctrine whatever respecting the Bible, except that it contains all things necessary to salvation. What else it may contain, and in what sort of vehicle the things necessary to salvation may be contained, are, by the law of England, open questions which the clergy may discuss as freely as the laity.
Whoever reads the judgments of Dr. Lushington and those of the Committee of Council, and compares them with the incriminated passages of the essays of Dr. Williams and Mr. Wilson, will be able to satisfy himself that this is by no means an overstatement of the result of the whole proceedings. That the result should startle those who have never reflected seriously on the character and position of the Church of England is not surprising. Hardly any other Christian body in this country allows so much liberty of opinion to its clergy; and it is certain that, though in the Church of England itself great liberty of thought on this subject has, in fact, prevailed amongst the more learned part of the clergy for a length of time, this fact did not, till very recent times, attract nearly so much general notice as its importance required. The speculations of Middleton went as far in fact, and those of Warburton went as far in principle, as anything written by Dr. Williams or Mr. Wilson; but the great bulk of the clergy not only did not agree with them, but did not even care to recognize their existence. So true was this, that a writer in the Tracts for the Times-usually supposed to be Dr. Newman-used the absence of any article on the subject of the inspiration of the Bible as a reductio ad absurdum of those who held that the Thirty-nine Articles were the standard, and the only standard, of doctrine in the Church of England. He took it for granted that the in
spiration of the Bible was a doctrine of the Church of England; but, as the inspiration of the Bible was not affirmed in the Thirty-nine Articles, he concluded that there must be some other standard of the doctrine of the Church of England than that which the Thirty-nine Articles afforded. We all know whither the search for such a standard conducted Dr. Newman and others, after a certain number of oscillations.
It is thus not surprising that, when the nature of the late judgments is fully understood, they should excite both surprise and alarm; but, when the subject is carefully considered, moderate and reasonable persons will probably conclude that, whatever may be the theological value of the opinions of Dr. Williams and Mr. Wilson-as to which, on the present occasion, we mean to say nothing-the judgment of the Committee of Council was not merely legally right, but was the only one which would have been consistent with the existence of the Church of England as a national Church, or, indeed, as anything wider than a sect based on mere popular prejudice, and on no plain or intelligible principle what
Some twenty years ago intense interest was excited by the question, 'What is the Church ?' and a variety of answers were devised, each of which favoured the pretensions of some one of the theological schools which divide the country; but none of which could be reconciled with the facts of the case. To those who look at the facts alone, without thinking it necessary to adapt them to any theological conclusion, the answer is obvious. The Church of England is an institution established by law. Both in fact and in theory it comprehends for some purposes all the Queen's subjects in England and Ireland; but its principal direct benefits are confined to that part of them who have a sufficient degree of sympathy with the services which are by law appointed to be held, and with the doctrines which are by law protected from discussion by the clergy,
to be willing to join in those services. Every English subject pays for the support of the Church, directly or indirectly. Every English subject, whatever his theological opinions may be, is subject to the Ecclesiastical Courts, and has a right to set their process in motion. The bishops, as bishops, help to legislate for the whole nation. Every man, whatever his creed, has a right to be married in his parish church, and to be buried in his parish church-yard. The law, and not community of religious opinion, constitutes the Church. This is proved by the fact that there is just as much community of religious opinion in it as the law prescribes, and no more. There is nothing to prevent a Unitarian on the one hand, or a Roman Catholic on the other, from holding a benefice in the Church of England, except certain Acts of Parliament, which the legislature might, if it pleased, repeal or modify to-morrow. Suppose, for a moment, that the Act of Uniformity, and with it the obligation to sign the Thirty-nine Articles and to read the Book of Common Prayer, were repealed. Would the Church of England cease to exist? By no means. There would still be as many bishops, deans, canons, rectors, vicars, and curates as before, with precisely the same powers, the same incomes, and the same obligations in all other matters than those relating to doctrine. If the rector of a parish were to die, the same patron as before would present a new one. The same bishop would have to examine and to institute him; he would be liable to the same penalties for non-residence or immorality, and he would be under the same obligation to celebrate religious worship in the parish church, though he might have a discretion as to the kind of service to be celebrated. The Church of England is thus differently situated from almost any other religious community in the world. It is an institution of which every Englishman is a member, and in which every Englishman has an interest, whether he likes it or not. That it is at present so constituted that a
large proportion of its members-all Dissenters, namely, and Roman Catholics-are excluded from its direct benefits, is perfectly true; but this is an accidental and not an essential circumstance. The theology of the Church was at one time Roman Catholic. It was at another time (during the Commonwealth) Calvinistic. Parliament might tomorrow make any other change; but, so long as the law of the land makes a public provision for religious worship, confers special powers and privileges upon the ministers of religion, and subjects them to a special discipline, administered by special courts, the aggregate of the institutions so constituted may properly be called the Church of England; the institution, that is, which the English nation thinks fit to maintain and support for religious purposes.
It is quite a distinct question whether or no any other meaning than this can be attached to the word Church.' Many persons have tried to discover one, and have sought to specify the tests by which a true Church may be known, and to lay down the definition which it must fulfil. Assuming their success to be complete, such a body, if not recognized by law, would not be the Church of England, any more than the first Christian society established in Rome was at the time of its establishment the Church of Rome. No doubt, for its own purposes, it was a Church; but so far was it from being the Church of Rome, that it was a Church unknown to Rome, or known only to be persecuted. It must, however, be admitted that there has been so much difficulty in affixing any definite meaning to the word Church, that, when it is used in any other than the legal sense ascribed to it above, no two persons can be sure that they are talking about the same thing. Let us, then, use the word in the meaning above assigned to it, which is, at all events, perfectly intelligible, and consider whether any other state of the law respecting the Bible, than that which has been shown to exist by the decisions in the cases of Dr. Williams and