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It is not surprising, therefore, that Lord Halifax should deprecate the interference of Nonconformists in the affairs of the Church. Most of us will perfectly agree with him—with this distinction, however, that we should deny that we have ever desired to interfere. We are the less likely to do so as we are ignorant of what the * Catholic Church of England really is, or where it is to be found. We know a Church as by law established, whose bishops sit in the House of Lords, and may for the most part be relied on to hinder the reforms in which we are specially interested; whose clergy are the authorised religious teachers of the nation—the parish clergyman being, according to Matthew Arnold, the only minister of religion who has a right to exist; into whose schools our children are driven by law in thousands of parishes. With that Church we have a right to meddle, and we are resolved to exercise our right to the utmost. Lord Halifax and his friends tell us that it is the Catholic' Church, but to that claim and all that grows out of it we are supremely indifferent, since its relation to the State is absolutely unaffected by it. The State did not adopt it as the Catholic' Church, leaving it to be henceforth governed by the law or custom of that Church, but distinctly laid down in an Act of Parliament the conditions on which it was to be the National Church. When it renounces that character and all the advantages it brings with it our right of interference will cease, and assuredly nothing will please us better than to be free from the responsibilities which it entails. Far from us be the desire to control the doctrine or worship of any voluntary Church. But as it is at present we are so involved in the action of the National Church that we cannot escape from it. The best evidence of this is the failure to construct a definition of the term Churchman' which will meet the facts of the case, and yet satisfy the natural desire for selfgovernment felt both by the clergy and laity who are bonâ-fide adherents of the National Establishment.

I sometimes wonder whether Lord Halifax and men of his school have ever seriously considered the actual position of Nonconformists. I have somewhere met with a protest against the crime of a new Bartholomew Day. To a large extent I agreed with it. The last remedy I should desire for the present situation is the expulsion of a body of earnest men, as conscientious as those who differ from them, from the Establishment, only leaving it more entirely in the hands of those who regard it as a mere department of the State. But what did surprise me was that any one who could so write should be so strangely oblivious of the fact that the High Churchmen whom he represents were profiting by that last Bartholomew, whose persecuting incidents this reference recalled. It was simply the outcome of a political triumph. The Act of Uniformity was passed by a king who broke his pledged word and a Parliament which, for the moment, was drunk with a passionate loyalty on the one hand and a vindictive resentment on the otber. Macaulay has suggested that if Richard Cromwell had been a worthy successor of his illustrious father the result would have been entirely different. That curious speculation it is not necessary to pursue further, except to say that the present position of the Anglican Church is due entirely to the fact that in the Civil War the ultimate victory remained with the party that supported its claims. Our fathers were driven out of a Church whose great characteristic is its comprehensiveness. In the intervening period their descendants have conquered for themselves the right to exist and to worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience, and after a long series of struggles have secured for themselves the privileges of English citizenship. It is true we are Nonconformists, but even that distinction could be swept away at our pleasure. Even as Nonconformists we have our vote in the choice of the Parliament to which the National Church is subject, and some of our members even find their way into that august assembly, through which the nation exercises the control which it retains so long as it confers special privileges. It is quite possible under the present system that a Nonconformist Premier may be called upon to appoint the chief officers of the Church itself; and though, as a clergyman told me (apparently finding abundant consolation in the thought), he must appoint ordained ministers of that Church, that would not alter the fact that a Nonconformist was discharging one of the most important functions in the internal affairs of the Church.

That kind of Nonconformist interference I desire to bring to an end by the one effectual method of dealing with that and many an evil beside—Disestablishment. It is very probable that the appointments made by a Nonconformist Premier might be just as wise as those under a more ecclesiastical régime; at all events, the complaints of them could not well be more bitter than have been directed against some in our own day—say that of the present Primate to the see of Exeter. But I am not surprised at the indignant protests of earnest men against the Erastianism of the whole proceeding, and on that point I am in entire sympathy with them. But how Erastianism is to be expelled from an Established Church, or from a State-endowed Church, it would pass the wit of man to devise. Wherever it is, it is a blight upon all spiritual life-a creeping paralysis, which sooner or later must rob the Church of all vitality and power. But freedom can be secured only by the payment of the price, and that price is the surrender of all the privileges and endowments which the State gives. Churchmen exaggerate its pressure, which would be small as compared with the advantages secured. It is, at all events, the one method by which Evangelicals can save the Protestantism of the Church of which they claim to be the champions, and High Churchmen secure that spiritual independence for which they profess to sigh. For ourselves, we shall certainly resist any tampering with the present constitution in the * Catholic' interest. But our great aim must ever be to redress the injustice from which we ourselves suffer by ending a system of compromise which satisfies no party and certainly does not promote the interests of religion in the nation.


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Ir may, possibly, be within the memory of some readers of this Review, that, when in 1885, an attack in force was threatened on the Church of England in a series of vigorous speeches by Mr. Chamberlain, supported by the whole body of the Nonconformists, and, as seemed, then, only too likely, by the great bulk of the Liberal party, who, it was understood, were only waiting to declare themselves till the silence of Mr. Gladstone-a silence more ominous than any speech-should be broken, I was privileged to write a series of letters to the Times in which I pointed out, to the best of my ability, the irreparable mischief that must result, if the great historic institution which had grown with the growth of England, and developed with her development, was to be rudely shattered to pieces, not for any fault of her own, real or alleged—and that too, at a time when all her energies were redoubling themselves to suit the paltry exigencies of a Political Party.

The appeal which I ventured in these letters to make to Mr. Gladstone to declare himself in unambiguous terms, at last drew from him a striking and highly characteristic letter in reply, which was published, at his request, in all the newspapers of the time and now lies before me. In it he solemnly averred that he had neither shared in, nor assented to, any attack upon the Church, and expressed his entire assurance that, if ever the question of Disestablishment should become practical, it would be for others and not for him to deal with it.' He lived, as he had often done before and as he lived to do again in other matters of great national importance, to falsify, by his own act, his entire assurance;' for in the year 1893, when he was in power, he brought in a 'Suspensory Bill' intended to strangle the Welsh National Church before it could be so much as heard in its own defence, and he also used highly menacing language to the historic Church of Scotland. Again I was allowed by the Times to mingle deeply in the fray. The English Church, rightly regarding the Welsh Church as what it was, alike in history and in law, a part of herself, nay, in some respects, as ber own mother Church, rose in her strength, and triumphantly repelled both assaults. Since that time, all three National Churches bave, to all appearance, gone on from strength to strength, and, till within a few months or even a few weeks ago, it seemed that the question of Disestablishment had become a thing of the past, or had, at least, been relegated to that dim and distant future' in which alone Mr. Gladstone bad formerly envisaged it.

Suddenly the prospect has been overclouded. The crisis in the Church'has become the question of the day, and fills all thoughtful and religious minds with the gloomiest forebodings ; and I am anxious, with the leave of the Editor of this Review, to give utterance, in a short article, to my deliberate conviction that, great as the calamity would have been had the attack upon the Church succeeded fourteen years ago, it would have been insignificant, in comparison with the sin and with the shame, with the sting of purposeless humiliation, and with the permanent alienation from each other of all the component parts of the Church, which must inevitably ensue, if Disestablishment should come on now—as it seems only too likely that it will—as the result, not of any hostile movement from without, but of disintegrating forces from within.

The former attack, instigated, as I have said it largely was, by political motives, at least served to bring together men of every shade of thought within the Church. They were driven to dwell less on the few and unimportant points on which they differed, than on many and all-important points on which they were agreed. They met the assault, much as a party of experienced mountaineers meet 8 slip of one of their number on the mountain side, with the rope tant and therefore with united strength ; and, if they had still gone down before the powers of destruction, they would, in any case, bave gone down together, and, after a brief interval of submergence, would have revived again as a Church-a Church, shom indeed of its stateliest historical buttresses and supports—but still a Church, suffering in one common cause, and striving for one common good.

At present, the reverse of all this seems likely to be the case. If the Church is to be torn to pieces by what the Bishop of Stepney, the other day, so well called the pride and the prejudice' of an extreme, but comparatively small, section of the clergy, who refuse to recognise any law, or any binding authority except a mysterious entity which they are pleased to call the law of the Church,' a law built up for themselves, as occasion suits, partly out of their own inner consciousness, partly out of the traditions of the centuries, and those chiefly the later and the darker centuries—the earlier, especially the Apostolic, as on the question of Evening or Fasting Communion, being, as it seems to me, pointedly omitted—if, further— which God forbid, and I cannot for myself believe it—they should be joined, as Lord Halifax not obscurely threatens, by the great bulk of the historic High Church party, who have, hitherto, seemed well content with the 'sweet reasonableness' of their Mother Church, alike

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