Lecture 7. The Providential Course of the Movement of 1833 Not in the Direction of a Sect

Sectarianism worse than Erastianism

Civil Power a Divine Ordinance

Church must have Mission different from State

Work of Church—Dogma and Sacraments

Strength of Catholic Church

Sect must have a Creed

Experience of Non-Jurors

Time to Act



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{197} IT was my object yesterday to show that such persons as are led by the principles of the anti-Erastian movement of 1833 to quit the Establishment, are necessarily called upon, as by one and the same act, to join the Catholic Church; for the case is not supposable in reason, of their quitting the one without their joining the other. The only other course which lies open to them is either that of joining the communion of some other National or Branch Church, or, on the other hand, that of founding a Sect; but a Branch or National Church is inevitably Erastian. This point I argued out at considerable length; and now I come to the second alternative, viz., that of founding a Sect, or as it is sometimes familiarly called, setting up for one's self. And I shall show today that, bad as it is for a man to take the State for his guide and master in religion, or to become an Erastian, it is worse still to become a Sectarian, that is, to be his own Doctor and his own Pope. {198}

What is really meant by a "Church," is a religious body which has jurisdiction over its members, or which governs itself; whereas, according to the doctrine of Erastus, it has no such jurisdiction, really is not a body at all, but is simply governed by the State, and is one department of the State's operations. This is one error, and a great one; it is an error, my brethren, which you have from the first withstood; but now I wish to show you that, if you will not accept of the Catholic Church, and submit yourselves to her authority, this said Erastianism is the least and the most tolerable error you can embrace; that your best and most religious of courses, which are all bad and irreligious, is to acquiesce in Erastianism at once; to give up the principles on which you set out, and to tell the world that the movement of 1833 was a mistake, and that you have grown wiser.


I would have you recollect, then, that the civil power is a divine ordinance; no one doubts it. It is prior in history to ecclesiastical power. The Jewish lawgivers, judges, prophets, kings, had some sort of jurisdiction over the priesthood, though the priesthood had its distinct powers and duties. The Jewish Church was not a body distinct from the State. In a certain sense, then, the civil magistrate is what divines call, "in possession;" the onus probandi lies with those who would {199} encroach upon his power. He was in possession in the age when Christ came; he is in possession now in the minds of men, and in the primā facie view of human society. He is in possession, because the benefits he confers on mankind are tangible, and obvious to the world at large. And he is recognised and sanctioned in Scripture in the most solemn way; nay, the very instrument of his power, by which he is strong, the carnal weapon itself, is formally committed to him. "Let every soul," says St. Paul, "be subject to the higher powers; for there is no power but from God; and those that are," the powers that be, "are ordained of God. Therefore he that resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist, purchase to themselves damnation. For princes are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. Wilt thou, then, not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise from the same. For he is God's minister to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, fear, for he beareth not the sword in vain. For he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil."

It is difficult to find a passage in Scripture more solemn and distinct than this—distinct in the duty laid down, and in the sin of transgressing it, and solemn in the reasons on which the duty is enforced. The civil magistrate is a minister, or, in a certain sense, a priest of the Most High; for, as is well known, the {200} word in the original Greek is one which commonly is appropriated to denote the sacerdotal office and function. He is, moreover, "an avenger to execute wrath;" he is the representative and image on earth of that awful attribute of God, His justice, as fathers are types and intimations of His tenderness and providence towards His creatures. Nor is this a solitary recognition of the divine origin and the dignity of the civil power:—when Divine Wisdom, in the book of Proverbs, would enlarge upon her great works on the earth, she finds one principal and special instance of them to consist in her presence and operation in the rulers of the people. "By me," she says, "kings reign, and lawgivers decree just things: by me princes rule, and the mighty decree justice." And let it be observed, that the function here ascribed to the civil magistrate, and requiring a peculiar gift, is one of those which especially enters into the idea of the times of the promised Messias. "Behold," says the Prophet, "a king shall reign in justice, and princes shall rule in judgment." Such is the civil power, the representative, and oracle, and instrument, of the eternal law of God, with the power of life and death, the awful power of continuing or cutting short the probation of beings destined to live eternally. To it are committed all things under heaven; it is the sovereign lord of the wide earth and its various fruits, and of men who till it or traverse it; and it allots, and distributes, and maintains, the one for the benefit of the {201} other. And as it is sacred in its origin, so may it be considered irresponsible in its acts, and treason against it, in some sort, rebellion against the Most High.

Now, such being the office of the temporal power, and considering the manifold temporal blessings of which it is the source and channel, and the cruelty of disturbing the settled order of society, and the madness of the attempt, surely a man has to think twice, and ought to be quite sure what he is doing, and to have a clear case to produce in his behalf, before he sets up any rival society to embarrass and endanger it. Pause before you decide on such a step, and make sure of your ground. Surely it is not likely that God should undo His own work for nothing. He does not revoke His ordinances except when they have failed of their mission. He does not supersede them or innovate on them, except when He is about to commence a higher work than He has already committed to them. Judaism was supplanted by Christianity, because its law was unprofitable, and because the Gospel was a definite revelation and doctrine from above, which required a more perfect organ for its promulgation. An institution was formed upon a new idea, and to it was transferred a portion of that authority which hitherto had centred in the State, and independence was bestowed on it; but surely only because it was able to do something which ancient philosophy and statesmanship had not dreamed of. Unless the duties of the Church had been different, or if they {202} had been but partially different, from the duties of the State, it is obvious to ask, for what conceivable reason should two societies be set up to do the work of one? Is it likely that Almighty Wisdom would have set up a second without recalling the first? would have continued the commission to the first, yet sent forth a second upon the same field? Such a course would simply have been adapted to kindle perpetual strife, and, if we may judge by appearances, to defeat the very purposes for which the civil power was appointed, and therefore is, in the highest degree, improbable, prior to some very clear proof to the contrary. This surely approves itself to the common sense of mankind. Either no Church has been set up in the world, or it is not set up for nothing; it must have a mission and a message of its own. Everything is defined, or made specific by its object: if the duties of the Church, its functions, its teaching, its working, be not specially distinct from those of the State, why, it will be impossible to resist the conclusion, that it was meant to be amalgamated with the State, to join on to it, to be a part of it, to be subordinate to it. We do not form two guilds for the same trade. Either assign to the Church its own craft, or do not ask that it should be chartered. Its object is its claim.

This consideration is a sufficient exposure of the theory of Alliance between Church and State, of which I was led to speak yesterday. Warburton maintains that each power, the Church and the State, does substantially {203} just one and the same thing; the Church preaches truth, the State pursues expediency; but Christian truth is identical with political expediency. There is no possible thesis which a preacher can put forth, or a synod could define as true, but is infallibly determined to be such ("infallible" is his word) by the political expedience and experience of the State. But if this be really so, what is the use of this second Society, which you put forth as naturally independent of the State, and as so high and mighty an ally of it? I do not say that to preach is not a function different from speaking in Parliament, or reading prayers to a congregation from sitting in a police court; the functions are different, and the functionaries will be different. But in like manner the function of a police magistrate is different from the function of a speaker in Parliament; but you do not have a distinct society, divine in its origin, independent in its constitution, to exercise jurisdiction over members of Parliament or of the Police. I repeat, unless the Church has something to say and something to do, very different from what the State says and does, Erastianism is the doctrine of common sense, and must be very clearly negatived in Scripture if it is to be discarded.


I will refer to another author in illustration. There was an anonymous work published, apparently in the {204} character of a Scotch Episcopalian, some years before the movement of 1833; which, on supposed principles of Scripture, advocated a Branch or National Church, though the author would, I suppose, have preferred the words, "free," "independent," or "unestablished." Judging from the internal evidence, the world identified him with a vigorous and original thinker, whom none could approach without being set thinking also, whether with him or contrary to him, and who has since risen to the very highest rank of the Anglican hierarchy [Note 1]. He wrote, partly in answer to Warburton, and partly to exhibit a counter-view of his own; but, if he will pardon me in saying it, he is an instance of the same unreality and inconsistency which I have just been imputing to Warburton himself.

"The supreme head on earth," he says, "of each branch of Christ's Church should evidently be some spiritual officer or body. Whether the governor of the English Church were the primate, or the convocation, or both conjointly, or any other man or body of men, holding ecclesiastical authority, not attached to any civil office, nor in the gift of any civil governor, in either case the non-secular character of Christ's kingdom would be preserved. The king, in conjunction with the other branches of the legislature, ought to have a distinctly defined temporal authority over every one of his subjects, of whatever persuasion; and, of {205} consequence, over the ministers and all other members, both of the Church of England and of every other religious community, Christian, Jewish, or Pagan, within his dominions; but neither he, nor any other civil power, should interfere with articles of faith, liturgy, Church discipline, or any other spiritual matters. The kingdom of Heaven has no king but Christ; and He delegated His authority to Apostles, and through them to Bishops and Presbyters; not to any secular magistrates. These, therefore, ought not, by virtue of their civil offices, to claim the appointment to any office in the Church." [Note 2] You see, my brethren, what clear views this anonymous writer has of the jurisdiction of the Church; they are identical with your own, or rather they go beyond you.

In consequence he speaks of its "degrading" the sacred character of Articles and Liturgy, "that they should stand upon the foundation of Acts of Parliament; that the spiritual rulers cannot alter them when they may need it; and that the secular power can, whether they need it or not. "And accordingly," he continues, "it is almost a proverbial reproach, that yours is a 'parliamentary religion;' that you worship the Almighty as the Act directs; and that you are bound to seek for salvation 'according to the law in that case made and provided' by kings, lords, and {206} commons; under the directions of the ministers of State; of persons," he adds, with a prophetic eye towards 1850, "who may be eminently well fitted for their civil offices, and who may indeed chance to be not only exemplary Christians, but sound divines, but who certainly are not appointed to their respective offices with any sort of view to their spiritual functions, who cannot even pretend that any sort of qualification for the good regulation of the Church is implied by their holding such stations as they do. Can this possibly be agreeable to the designs and institutions of Christ and His Apostles? If any one will seriously answer in the affirmative, he is beyond my powers of argumentation." [Note 3]

Presently he observes, "The English Government seems to have a delight and a pride, in not only making the clergy do as much as possible in return for the protection they enjoy, but in enforcing their services in the most harsh and mortifying way. Like the ancient Persian soldiers, they are brought into the field under the lash of perpetual penalties, which serve to keep your ministers in a state of degradation as well as of dependence on the State, which I defy you to parallel in any other Christian Church that ever existed." [Note 4] He then compares certain of the clergy to the dog in the fable, who mistook the clog round his neck for a badge of honourable distinction. He continues, "Altogether, indeed, I cannot but say, if I must speak out, there is {207} another fable respecting a dog, of which the condition of your Church strongly reminds me. Your American brethren, for instance, and some others, might say to you, as the lean and hungry wolf did to the well-fed mastiff, 'you are fat and sleek, indeed, while I am gaunt and half-famished, but what means that mark round your neck?' You must do this, under a penalty; and you must not do that under a penalty; you must comply with the rubric, and yet, at the same time, you must not comply with the rubric ... In short, you are fettered and crippled and disabled in every joint, by your alliance with a body of a different character, which could not, even with the best intentions, fail to weaken instead of aiding you; but which, in fact, aims chiefly at making a tool of you. But some of you seem so habituated to this dependence of the Church on the State, and so fond of it, as to have even solicited interference in a case which could not concern the civil community, and which the secular magistrate was likely to care about as little as Gallio. An English bishop did not dare to ordain an American to officiate in a country not under British dominion, without asking and obtaining permission of his government, which had just as much to do with the business as the government of Abyssinia." [Note 5]

Now all this is very ably put, and very true; but the question comes upon the reader, What is the meaning {208} and object of the sweeping ecclesiastical changes which are advocated by this author? We must not take to pieces the constitution and rewrite the law for nothing. What would be gained by his recommendations practically? And what are they intended to accomplish or secure? Is it a gymnastical display or "agonism," as the heathen author calls it, from the Academy or the Garden, or a clever piece of irony which he presents to our perusal, or is it the grave and earnest sermon of one who would practise what he preaches, and would not partake of what he condemns? Now I will do the writer the justice to confess, that he does not agree with Warburton in considering that truth is measured by political expediency. He is too honest, too generous, too high-minded, too sensible, for so miserable a paradox; but, considering the far higher views he takes of the position of the Church, how he frets under her humiliation, how nobly zealous he is for her liberty, certainly he will be guilty of a different, indeed, but a not less startling paradox himself, if he has such exalted notions of the Church, and yet gives her nothing to do. Warburton recognises the Church in order to destroy it; he thinks it never has existed, or rather never ought to have existed in its proper nature, but, from its first moment of creation, ought to have been dissolved into the constitution of the State. But our author makes much ado about ecclesiastical rights and privileges, which he considers divinely bestowed, and, therefore, indefeasible. {209} He thinks the Church so pure and celestial, as to be insulted, defiled, by any communion with things simply secular. "My kingdom is not of this world," said our Lord, and, therefore, it seems, no ecclesiastical person must, as such, have a seat in Parliament, and, on the other hand, neither King nor Parliament, as such, must be able to appoint a fast day. "It was," he says, "Satan who first proposed an alliance between the Christian Church and the State, by offering temporal advantages in exchange for giving up some of the 'things that be God's,' and which we ought to 'render unto God,'—for not 'serving Him only,' whom only we ought to serve. The next, I am inclined to think, who proposed to himself this scheme, and endeavoured to bring it about, was Judas Iscariot." [Note 6]

Well, then, if the Church be a kingdom, or government, not of this world, I do trust you have provided for her a message, a function, not of this world,—something distinct, something special, something which the world cannot do, which "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor heart of man conceived." It is not enough to give her morality to preach about; why a heaven-appointed Society for that? With the Bible in his hands, if that be all, I do not see why one man, if properly educated, should not preach morality as well as another, without any disturbance of the rights of the magistrate or the order of civil society. {210} It is sometimes said in bitterness that the Church's work is priestcraft; I have already accepted the word; it is a craft, a craft in the same sense that goldsmiths' work, or architecture, or legal science is a craft; it must have its teaching, its intellectual and moral habits, its long experience, its precedents, its traditions; nay, it must have all these in a much higher sense than crafts of this world, if it is to claim to come from above. The more certainly the Church is a kingdom of heaven, and, as the author is so fond of saying, "not of this world," the more certain is it that she must have simply a heavenly work also, which the world cannot do for itself.


Now, I fear, I must say, I see no symptoms at all of the writer in question intending to make his pattern-Church answer to this most reasonable expectation. There is nothing in his book to show that he entrusts his Church with any special doctrine or work of any kind. Whatever he may say, there is nothing to show why a lawyer, or a physician, or a scientific professor, or a country gentleman, or any one who has his evenings to himself, and is of an active turn, should not do everything which he ascribes to his heaven-born society. If, for instance, religion has its mysteries, if it has its fertile dogmas and their varied ramifications, if it has its theology, {211} if it has its long line of momentous controversies, its careful ventilation of questions, and its satisfactory and definite solutions; if, moreover, it has its special work, its substantial presence in the midst of us, its daily gifts from heaven, and its necessary ministries thence arising, then we shall see the meaning, we shall adore the wisdom, of the Divine Governor of all, in having done a new thing upon the earth when Christ came, in having withdrawn a jurisdiction He had once given to the State, and having bestowed it on a special ordinance created for a special purpose. But in proportion as this author fails in this just anticipation, and disappoints the common sense of mankind, if he has nothing better to tell us than that one man's opinion is as good as another's; that Fathers and Schoolmen, and the greater number of Anglican divines, are puzzled-headed or dishonest; that heretics have at least this good about them, that they are in earnest, and do not take doctrines for granted; that religion is simple, and theologians have made it hard; that controversy is on the whole a logomachy; that we must worship in spirit and in truth; that we ought to love truth; that few people love truth for its own sake; that we ought to be candid and dispassionate, to avoid extremes, to eschew party spirit, to take a rational satisfaction in contemplating the works of nature, and not to speculate about "secret things;" that our Lord came to teach {212} us all this, and to gain us immortality by His death, and the promise of spiritual assistance, and that this is pretty nearly the whole of theology; and that at least all is in the Bible, where every one may read it for himself—(and I see no evidence whatever of his going much beyond this round of teaching)—then, I say, if the work and mission of Christianity be so level in its exercise to the capacities of the State, surely its ministry also is within the State's jurisdiction. I cannot believe that Bishops, and clergymen, and councils, and convocations have been divinely sent into the world, simply or mainly to broach opinions, to discuss theories, to talk literature, to display the results of their own speculations on the text of Scripture, to create a brilliant, ephemeral, ever-varying theology, to say in one generation what the next will unsay; else, why were not our debating clubs and our scientific societies ennobled with a divine charter also? God surely did not create the visible Church for the protection of private judgment: private judgment is quite able to take care of itself. This is no day for what are popularly called "shams." Many as are its errors, it is aiming at the destruction of shadows and the attainment of what is either sensibly or intellectually tangible. Why, then, should we have so much bustle and turmoil about "supremacy," and "protection," and "alliance," and "authority;" and "indefeasible rights," and "encroachments," {213} and "usurpations," after the manner of this writer, if all the effort and elaboration is to be in its result but a mountain in labour bringing forth nothing?

The State claims the allegiance of its subjects on the ground of the tangible benefits of which it is the instrument towards them. Its strength lies in this undeniable fact, and its subjects endure and maintain its coercion and its laws, because the certainty of this fact is ever present to their minds. What mean the array and the pomp which surround the Sovereign,—the strict ceremonial, the minute etiquette, the almost unsleeping watchfulness which eyes her every motion, which follows her into her garden and her chamber, which notes down every shade of her countenance and every variation of her pulse? Why do her soldiers hover about her, and officials line her anterooms, and cannon and illumination carry forward the tiding of her progresses among her people? Is this all a mockery? Is it done for nothing? Surely not; in her is centred the order, the security, the happiness of a great people. And, in like manner, the Church must be the guardian of a fact; she must have something to produce; she must have something to do. It is not enough to be keeper of even an inspired book: for there is nothing to show that her protection of it is necessary at this day. The State might fairly commit its custody to the art of printing, and dissolve an institution whose occupation was no {214} more. She must, in order to have a meaning, do that which otherwise cannot be done, which she alone can do. She must have a benefit to bestow, in order to be worth her existence; and the benefit must be a fact which no one can doubt about. It must not be an opinion, or matter of opinion, but a something which is like a first principle, which may be taken for granted, a foundation indubitable and irresistible. In other words, she must have a dogma and Sacraments;—it is a dogma and Sacraments, and nothing else, which can give meaning to a Church, or sustain her against the State; for by these are meant certain facts or acts which are special instruments of spiritual good to those who receive them. As we do not gain the benefits of civil society unless we submit to its laws and customs, so we do not gain the spiritual blessings which the Church has to bestow upon us, unless we receive her dogmas and her Sacraments.

This, you know, is understood by every fanatic who would collect followers and form a sect. Who would ever dream of collecting a congregation, and having nothing to say to them? No! they think they have that to offer to the world which cannot otherwise be obtained. They do not bring forward mere opinions; they do not preach a disputable doctrine; but they assert, boldly and simply, that he who believes them will be saved. They announce, for instance, that every one must undergo the new birth, and for this they {215} organise their society; viz., in order to preach and to testify, to realise and to perpetuate in the world this great and necessary fact,—the new birth of the soul. Or, again, they have a commission to do miracles, or they can prophesy, or they are sent to declare the end of the world. Something or other they do, which the existing establishments of Church and State do not, and cannot do.


This being the state of the case, consider how entirely the reasonable anticipation of our minds is fulfilled in the professions of the Catholic Church. A Protestant wanders into one of our chapels; he sees a priest kneeling and bowing and throwing up a thurible, and boys in cottas going in and out, and a whole choir and people singing amain all the time, and he has nothing to suggest to him what it is all about; and he calls it mummery, and he walks out again. And would it not indeed be so, my brethren, if this were all? But will he think it mummery when he learns and seriously apprehends the fact, that, according to the belief of a Catholic, the Word Incarnate, the Second Person of the Eternal Trinity, is there bodily present,—hidden, indeed, from our senses, but in no other way withheld from us? He may reject what we believe; he will not wonder at what we do. And so, again, open the Missal, read the minute directions given for the celebration of Mass,—what are the fit dispositions {216} under which the Priest prepares for it, how he is to arrange his every action, movement, gesture, utterance, during the course of it, and what is to be done in case of a variety of supposable accidents. What a mockery would all this be, if the rite meant nothing! But if it be a fact that God the Son is there offered up in human flesh and blood by the hands of man, why, it is plain that no rite whatever, however anxious and elaborate, is equal to the depth of the overwhelming thoughts which are borne in upon the mind by such an action. Thus the usages and ordinances of the Church do not exist for their own sake; they do not stand of themselves; they are not sufficient for themselves; they do not fight against the State their own battle; they are not appointed as ultimate ends; but they are dependent on an inward substance; they protect a mystery; they defend a dogma; they represent an idea; they preach good tidings; they are the channels of grace. They are the outward shape of an inward reality or fact, which no Catholic doubts, which is assumed as a first principle, which is not an inference of reason, but the object of a spiritual sense.

Herein is the strength of the Church; herein she differs from all Protestant mockeries of her. She professes to be built upon facts, not opinions; on objective truths, not on variable sentiments; on immemorial testimony, not on private judgment; on convictions or perceptions, not on conclusions. None else but she can {217} make this profession. She makes high claims against the temporal power, but she has that within her which justifies her. She merely acts out what she says she is. She does no more than she reasonably should do. If God has given her a specific work, no wonder she is not under the superintendence of the civil magistrate in doing it. If her Clergy be Priests, if they can forgive sins, and bring the Son of God upon her altars, it is obvious they cannot, considered as such, hold of the State. If they were not Priests, the sooner they were put under a minister of public instruction, and the Episcopate abolished, the better. But she has not disturbed the world for nothing. Her precision and peremptoriness, all that is laid to her charge as intolerance and exclusiveness, her claim entirely to understand and to be able to deal with her own deposit and her own functions; her claim to reveal the unknown and to communicate the invisible, is, in the eye of reason (so far from being an objection to her coming from above), the very tenure of her high mission,—just what would be sure to characterise her if she had received such a mission. She cannot be conceived without her message and her gifts. She is the organ and oracle, and nothing else, of a supernatural doctrine, which is independent of individuals, given to her once for all, coming down from the first ages, and so deeply and intimately embosomed in her, that it cannot be clean torn out of her, even if you should try; which gradually and majestically {218} comes forth into dogmatic shape, as time goes on and need requires, still by no private judgment, but at the will of its Giver, and by the infallible elaboration of the whole body;—and which is simply necessary for the salvation of every one of us. It is not a philosophy, or literature, cognisable and attainable at once by those who cast their eyes that way; but it is a sacred deposit and tradition, a mystery or secret, as Scripture calls it, sufficient to arrest and occupy the whole intellect, and unlike anything else; and hence requiring, from the nature of the case, organs special to itself, made for the purpose, whether for entering into its fulness, or carrying it out in deed.


And now, my brethren, you may have been some time asking yourselves how all this bears upon the particular subject on which these Lectures are engaged; and yet I think it bears upon it very closely and significantly. For, perhaps, you may have said, in answer to my Lecture of yesterday, ''We do not aim at forming a Branch Church; we put before us a really humble work. We have no ambition, no expectation of spreading through the nation, or of spreading at all. We do but mean to preserve for future times what we hold to be the truth. As books are consigned to some large library, with a simple view to their security, not let out to the world, and apparently useless, but yet with a {219} definite object and benefit,—'though for no other cause, yet for this,' as Hooker says, 'that posterity may know we have not loosely through silence permitted things to pass away as in a dream,'—so, we care not to be successful in our day; we are willing to be despised; we do but aim at transmitting Catholic doctrine in its purest and most primitive form to posterity. We are willing to look like a small sect at the gate of the National Church, when really we are the heirs of the Apostles. We do not boast of this; we do not wish to inflict it upon the world; leave us to ourselves quietly and unostentatiously to transmit our burden to posterity in our own way."

I say, in reply, my brethren, that so far you are right, that you at least profess to have something to transmit; but be you sure withal that you have it, and know what it is. It will not do to have only a vague idea of it, if it is to form the basis of a communion; you must be at home with it, and must have surveyed it in its various aspects, and must be clear about it, and be prepared to state decisively to all inquirers its ground, its details, and its consequences, and must be able to say, unequivocally, that it comes from heaven;—or it will not serve your purpose. I am not sanguine that you will be able to do this even as regards the Sacrament of Baptism; differences have already risen among you as to the relative importance, at least under circumstances, of separate portions of the doctrine; and when you come {220} to define the consequences of sin after it, and the remedies of that sin, your variations and uncertainties will be greater still. And much more of other doctrines; there is hardly one of which you will be able to take a clear and complete view. I say, then, Do not set up a sect, till you are quite sure what is to be its creed.


In the commencement of the movement of 1833, much interest was felt in the Non-jurors. It was natural that inquirers who had drawn their principles from the primitive Church, should be attracted by the exhibition of any portion of those principles anywhere in, or about, an Establishment which was so emphatically opposed to them. Therefore, in their need, they fixed their eyes on a body of men who were not only sufferers for conscience' sake, but held, in connection with their political principles, a certain portion of Catholic truth. But, after all, what is, in a word, the history of the Non-jurors, for it does not take long to tell it? A party composed of seven Bishops and some hundred Clergy, virtuous and learned, and, as regards their leaders, even popular, for political services lately rendered to the nation, is hardly formed but it begins to dissolve and come to nought, and that, simply because it had no sufficient object, represented no idea, and proclaimed no dogma. What should keep it together? why should it exist? To form an association is to go out of the way, {221} and ever requires an excuse or an account of so pretentious a proceeding. Such were the ancient apologies put forward for the Church in her first age; such the Apologies of the Anglican Jewell, and the Quaker Barclay. What was the apology of the Non-jurors? Now their secession, properly speaking, was based on no theological truth at all; it arose simply because, as their name signifies, certain Bishops and Clergy could not take the oaths to a new King. There is something very venerable and winning in Bishop Ken; but this arises in part from the very fact that he was so little disposed to defend any position, or oppose things as they were. He could not take the oaths, and was dispossessed; but he had nothing special to say for himself; he had no message to deliver; his difficulty was of a personal nature, and he was unwilling that the Non-juring Succession should be continued. It was against his judgment to perpetuate his own communion. But look at the body in its more theological aspect, and its negative and external character is brought out even more strikingly. Its members had much more to say against the Catholic Church, like Protestants in general, than for themselves. They are considered especially high in their Doctrine of the Holy Eucharist; yet, I do not know anything in Dr. Brett's whole Treatise on the Ancient liturgies, which fixes itself so vividly on the reader's mind, as his assertion, that the rubrics of the Roman Missal are "corrupt, dangerous, superstitious, {222} abominably idolatrous, theatrical, and utterly unworthy the gravity of so sacred an institution."

The Non-jurors were far less certain what they did hold, than what they did not. They were great champions of the Sacrifice, and wished to restore the ancient Liturgies; yet, they could not raise their minds to anything higher than the sacrifice of the material bread and wine, as representatives of One, who was not literally present but absent; as symbols of His Body and Blood, not in truth and fact, but in virtue and effect. Yet, while they had such insufficient notions of the heavenly gift committed to the ordinance, they could, as I have said, be very jealous of its outward formalities, and laid the greatest stress on a point, important certainly in its place, but not when separated from that which gave it meaning and life, the mixing of the water with the wine; and upon this, and other questions, of higher moment indeed, but not of a character specifically different, they soon divided into two communions. They broke into pieces, not from external causes, not from the hostility or the allurements of a court, but simply because they had no common heart and life in them. They were safe from the civil sword, from their insignificancy; they had no need of falling back on a distant centre for support; all they needed was an idea, an object, a work to make them one.

But I have another remark to make on the Non-jurors. You recollect, my brethren, that they are the {223} continuation and heirs of the traditions, so to call them, of the High-Church divines of the seventeenth century. Now, how high and imposing do the names sound of Andrewes, Laud, Taylor, Jackson, Pearson, Cosin, and their fellows? I am not speaking against them as individuals, but viewing them as theological authorities. How great and mysterious are the doctrines which they teach and how proudly they appeal to primitive times, and claim the ancient Fathers! Surely, as some one says, "in Laud is our Cyprian, and in Taylor is our Chrysostom, and all we want is our Athanasius." Look on, my brethren, to the history of the Non-jurors, and you will see what these Anglican divines were worth. There you will see that it was simply their position, their temporal possessions, their civil dignities, as standing round a King's throne, or seated in his great council, and not their principles, which made them what they were. Their genius, learning, faith, whatever it was, would have had no power to stand by themselves; these qualities had no substance, for, as we see, when the State abandoned them, they shrank at once and collapsed, and ceased to be. These qualities were not the stuff out of which a Church is made, though they looked well and bravely when fitted upon the Establishment. And, indeed, they did not, in the event, wear better in the Establishment than out of it; for since the Establishment at the Revolution had changed its make and altered its position, the old vestments would {224} not fit it, and fell out of fashion. The Nation and the National Church had got new ideas, and the language of the ancient Fathers could not express them. There were those, who, at the era in question, took the oaths; they could secure their positions; could they secure their creed? The event answers the question. There is some story of Bull and Beveridge, who were two of the number, meeting together, I think in the House of Lords, and mourning together over the degeneracy of the times. The times certainly were degenerate; and if learning could have restored them, there was enough in those two heads to have done the work of Athanasius, Leo, and the seventh Gregory; but learning never made a body live. The High Church party died out within the Establishment, as well as outside of it, for it had neither dogma to rest upon, nor object to pursue.

All this is your warning, my brethren; you too, when it comes to the point, will have nothing to profess, to teach, to transmit. At present you do not know your own weakness. You have the life of the Establishment in you, and you fancy it is your own life; you fancy that the accidental congeries of opinions, which forms your creed, has that unity, individuality, and consistency, which allows of its developing into a system, and perpetuating a school. Look into the matter more steadily; it is very pleasant to decorate your chapels, oratories, and studies now, but you cannot be doing this for ever. It is pleasant to adopt a habit or {225} a vestment; to use your office book or your beads; but it is like feeding on flowers, unless you have that objective vision in your faith, and that satisfaction in your reason, of which devotional exercises and ecclesiastical regulations are the suitable expression. Such will not last, on the long run, as are not commanded and rewarded by divine authority; they cannot be made to rest on the influence of individuals. It is well to have rich architecture, curious works of art, and splendid vestments, when you have a present God; but oh! what a mockery, if you have not! If your externals surpass what is within, you are, so far, as hollow as your evangelical opponents who baptize, yet expect no grace; or, as the latitudinarian writer I have been reviewing, who would make Christ's kingdom not of this world, in order to do little more than the world's work. Thus your Church becomes, not a home, but a sepulchre; like those high cathedrals, once Catholic, which you do not know what to do with, which you shut up and make monuments of, sacred to the memory of what has passed away.


Therefore, I say now,—as I have said years ago, when others have wished still to uphold their party, after their arguments had broken under them—Find out first of all where you stand, take your position, write down your creed, draw up your catechism. Tell me {226} why you form your party, under what conditions, how long it is to last, what are your relations to the Establishment, and to the other branches (as you speak) of the Universal Church, how you stand relatively to Antiquity, what is Antiquity, whether you accept the Via Media, whether you are zealous for "Apostolical order," what is your rule of faith, how you prove it, and what are your doctrines. It is easy for a while to be doing merely what you do at present; to remain where you are, till it is proved to you that you must go; to refuse to say what you hold and what you do not, and to act only on the offensive; but you cannot do this for ever. The time is coming, or is come, when you must act in some way or other for yourselves, unless you would drift to some form of infidelity, or give up principle altogether, or believe or not believe by accident. The onus probandi will be on your side then. Now you are content to be negative and fragmentary in doctrine; you aim at nothing higher than smart articles in newspapers and magazines, at clever hits, spirited attacks, raillery, satire, skirmishing on posts of your own selecting; fastening on weak points, or what you think so, in Dissenters or Catholics; inventing ingenious retorts, evading dangerous questions; parading this or that isolated doctrine as essential, and praising this or that Catholic practice or Catholic saint, to make up for abuse, and to show your impartiality; and taking all along a high, eclectic, patronising, indifferent tone; {227} this has been for some time past your line, and it will not suffice; it excites no respect, it creates no confidence, it inspires no hope.

And when, at length, you have one and all agreed upon your creed, and developed it doctrinally, morally, and polemically, then find for it some safe foundation, deeper and firmer than private judgment, which may ensure its transmission and continuance to generations to come. And, when you have done all this, then, last of all, persuade others and yourselves, that the foundation you have formed is surer and more trustworthy than that of Erastianism, on the one hand, and of immemorial and uninterrupted tradition, that is, of Catholicism, on the other.

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1. Dr. Whate1y.
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2. Letters on the Church, p. 181. Dr. Whately never, I believe, owned to the authorship of this work.
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3. p. 119.
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4. p. 125.
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5. p. 129.
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6. p. 97.
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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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