Page images
PDF
EPUB

people, that they were for excommunicating themselves ; yea, for pulling down about their own ears that branch of Christ's Holy Catholic Church established in these kingdoms. That which was a blessing to them and to their offspring they were for destroying utterly :-Overturn, overturn, overturn !-was the prolonged cry, and they verily thought that, as the foundations of the nation seemed reeling and out of course, and its inhabitants drugged with a drink of deadly wine, the foundations of the Church too were tottering. That is to say, in their ignorance, they confounded an establishment with what was imperishable, whether against the madness of the people, the folly of those in high estate, or the gates of hell !

In that singularly curious book, by Antonius Macedo, the “ Divi Tutelares Orbis Christiani,” this worthy Jesuit represents in strong colours the destructive system pursued by the English at the Reformation. Of course, he speaks as a good Roman Catholic, but his words might have been called to mind, and might have occasioned searchings of heart but a few years ago, when a misguided people were for burning up and pulling down the most sacred monuments of our forefathers in this land, even to our very cathedrals, –

“Agreed in nothing but t'abolish,

Subvert, extirpate, and demolish." Illi,says the writer above alluded to, omnes rationes et vias comparandæ salutis æternæ sustulerunt : sacramenta, sacramentalia, vota, sacrificia, psalmodias, meditationes, vigilias, flagella, jejunia, carnis macerationes exterminarunt: Aras, imagines, sacraria, templa, Sanctorum patrocinia, sepulchra, et Martyrum memorias everterunt ; lustrales fontes exsiccarunt; sacra lipsana combusserunt ; breviaria, litanias, precarios globulos abjecerunt:

3 Hudibras, III. ii. 143.

4 This may need explanation. Hoffman will supply it. “Globuli, in Ecclesiâ Romanâ dicuntur calculi ; quibus in coronâ B. Mariæ similique utuntur, numerando sc. tot salutationes Angelicas, totque Orationes Dominicas. Nempe centum et quinquaginta vicibus cum recitant Orat. Dom. vocant hoc Psalterium Christi, cum totidem salutationem Angelicam, Psalterium Virginis. Cui usui, ne in numero aberrarent, globuli hi seu sphærulæ precatoriæ excogitatæ sunt, à Petro Eremitâ, ut plerique volunt.”— Lexicon in v. Quære? Are these globuli alluded to in these words in the Homily of Good Works, “and rosaries of fifteen O's.” p. 60. But, see Nare's Gloss, in v. Rosary.

[ocr errors]

jubilæa, indulgentias, benedictiones Episcopales, et Sacerdotales irriserunt : sacra omnia pessumdederunt: imo et sacros ipsos ordines extinxerunt, et loca pia, et religionem spirantia, ne qua rei sacroe exstaret memoria, exsciderunt, veriti ne si starent, vel muti eorum mores novos reprehenderent, ac refutarent. Nihil reliquerunt intactum, nihil integrum, nihil sanctum, cum ipsa quoque pietatis vestigia aboleverint 5."

The above, it must be confessed, is a curious catalogue of excision to the knife, and although the carnis macerationes and certain other items are not to be regretted, and we have no fear as to the retention of our sacred orders, notwithstanding the digladiation of Lewgar or Le Quien, being contented with what is said by Bramhall and Courayer and others, who have sifted well the subject; still Antonio Macedo's words ring in our ears, and an infuriated mob would not unwillingly have perpetrated a like destruction in the nineteenth century. Human passions and unchastened violence alter little from age to age. Folly and ignorance ran in couples for a time, and then, as he of Verulam said, the fools lead the wise. As in political movements," la voix populaire qui fait taire celle des sages, entraîne souvent les conseils des rois”,” so is it when higher matters are at stake.

" The world is nat'rally averse

To all the truth it sees or hears,
But swallows nonsense and a lie
With greediness and gluttony 8!"

And never was this more fully exemplified than in the exaggerated statements which were made some ten and twelve years ago with respect to the property of the Church and the enormous revenues of the clergy. The lies current during the Great Rebellion were again repeated, and history proved no better than an old almanack; no new phrase, for both Jackson and Fuller make use of it. The truth is, that misrepresentations are what demagogues, or enemies in general to the existing state

5 Cf. in c.“ Angliâ.” p. 462. Ulissipone (i. e. Lisbon), 1687. Folio.

6 See Palmer's Treatise on the Church. Part vi. c. x. On the Validity of the English Ordinations. Vol. ii. p. 451. First Edit.

7 Mallet, L'Histoire de Dannemarc, vol. vii. p. 408. 8 Hudibras, III. ii. 805.

с

1

of things, must start with. Though a woe be denounced against putting a stumbling-block in a weak brother's way—against calling “evil good and good evil”—it is nevertheless done day after day, and generation after generation, by such as seek, whether notoriety or precedence, regardless of the means. They know full well that the moment the minds of ignorant and misinformed people can be abused by false notions, a point is gained. A lie that lives a day will do a world of mischief.

And this was the case with reference to the revenues of the Church. The statements then made would hardly be credited now that things are more quiescent; but unluckily our enemies, backed by lords of misrule, printed their accusations, and it was necessary, as it had often been before, to contradict and to disprove. Such, indeed, was the general feeling on this hand, that a commission was appointed to “ Inquire into the Revenues and Patronage of the Established Church in England and Wales," and their report was presented in June, 1835. And what was the result? what did this enormous and untold wealth amount to? Was it found that thousands upon

thousands

were thrown away upon an idle and overfed clergy? Nothing of the sort,

“ Parturiunt montes, nascetur ridiculus mus!”

The result was, that if the whole amount of the several benefices in England and Wales—those omitted which were attached to superior preferments--were to be divided amongst the several incumbents, their average income would not amount to more than 2851. per annum. Great inequalities, of course, there are and must be in the value of livings. Some certainly are very much too large; but the majority are far, far too small, All this is a point conceded; but it is one which presents great difficulties as to alteration. It is ill to meddle with vested rights. However, the lie was laid bare, and it was even found that our much abused bishops', were their archiepiscopal and episcopal revenues thrown together and equally divided, would not receive more than 60001. per annum at the very most. And when it is known what they have to do for what they receive, I

suppose, no one that knows any thing about the matter would 9 This is yet true, though much has occurred since these works were written, still testifying to the truth, that The love of money is the root of all evil.

venture to put in further demurrer. 6 Let us blacken him, let us blacken him what we can," said that miscreant Harrison of our martyred king, upon the wording and drawing up his charge against his approaching trial "0. It was much the same on the occasion referred to.

The value of cathedral property, together with that of collegiate churches, was investigated at the same time, and all was found to be infinitely below the exaggerated statements which were put forward as tested and proved. Something will be said in subsequent pages as to the appropriation of much of these revenues hereafter, and time must prove whether the project be wise or the reverse. Great necessities call for unwonted measures, but, after all, “ honesty,” perhaps, will be found to be “the best policy;" and to sell, and to exchange, and to alienate, may be thought, in less disturbed and excited times, no very long-sighted or wise proceeding. The intention is doubtless good, and the sacrifice was most likely made to prevent what is called a further reformation--a term which has been much used of late years, and which, it is remarkable enough, was a favourite term of the levellers amongst Presbyterians and Independents. South pithily explains its meaning : “A further reformation signifies no more, with reference to the Church, than as if one man should come to another and say, Sir, I have already taken away your cloak, and do fully intend, if I can, to take away your coat also. This is the true meaning of this word further reformation ; and so long as you understand it in this sense, you cannot be imposed upon by it."

But, whatever may be the method of distribution hereafter, there is this satisfaction at least, that the spoils of collegiate and cathedral institutions revert to the Church, either to the increase of poor livings, additional clergy in populous places, or to the education of the people, and we need not be pained when we read such remarks as these respecting Church revenues alienated before the Reformation. They are from the great divine before quoted, Thomas Jackson. “Our fore-elders did well in judging the clergy for abusing revenues sacred, to the maintenance of idleness, superstition, and idolatry. But would to God they had not condemned themselves by judging them, or that they had not done the same things wherein they judged them. Happy had it been for them and for their posterity, if those large revenues, which they took from such as abused them, had been employed to pious uses ; as either to the maintenance of true religion, or to the support of the needy, or to prevent oppressing by extraordinary taxes, or the like. This had been an undoubted effect of pure religion and undefiled before God. But it was not the different estate or condition of the parties on whom Church redenues were bestowed, that could give warrant unto their alienation, or which might bring a blessing upon their intended reformation, but the uses unto which they were consecrated, or the manner how they were employed.—Now the manner of their employment, no man, whose ancestors have been parties in the business, will take upon him to justify, nor have the posterity of such as were at that time most enriched with the spoils of the superstitious Church any great cause to rejoice at their ancestors' easy purchase.” And again, by and by. “Our fore-elders (especially the nobility and the gentry of those times) did abhor idols no less than the Jews did, and yet did commit more gross and palpable sacrileges than the Jews, to my observation, at any time had done. And what could it boot them to deface images or pull down idols in the material churches, so long as by their very spoils they nourished that Great Idol, Covetousness, in their own hearts? Thus to seek to enrich themselves or fill their private coffers with the spoils of abbeys or churches, or by tithes and offerings, was but to continue the practice of the prelacy or clergy, in destroying parishes to erect monasteries ; or demolishing leper religious houses to build up others more sumptuous and luxurious ?."

10 Quoted by South, vol. ii. p. 137.

I Vol. i. p. 203.

It was against such things as these that honest-hearted Latimer lifted up his voice, as did others of the day. But, once for all, it was well that the full meaning of a thorough reformation should be exemplified. And never was a declaration so clear, as that covetousness was bound up in the heart of man,-yea, even in the heart of those, whose desire, perhaps, might have been to see a better state of things, had not the auri sacra fames over

? See vol. iii. pp. 686, 687.

« PreviousContinue »