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Congregationalists, all tell the same story.” And this is probably a truthful picture of the national coldness, and of the cause of the national attitude towards disestablishment, in all the sects, as well as within the national Church, and in all the political and social phases of English life.
Cardinal Newman has written recently, in an article in the Contemporary: “The world must be reckoned a worse enemy to religion now than at any time since Christianity came into beingbecause the world is better educated and informed than it ever was before.” And though it would not be true to say that antagonism to the Establishment is any proof of society being more worldly, it is perfectly true to say that antagonism to all authority, and to all institutions which seem to favor it, is that growing disposition which is inimical to “Church and State," because the State lends dogmatic force to the Church. It must be borne in mind that a Protestant and a Catholic take a totally different view of the whole subject. A Catholic, of course, regards the Anglican establishment as, from first to last, only a political "accident;" or as the result of certain regal immoralities which, at the time of the Reformation, "changed religion." A Protestant thinks that Protestantism is “all right"; and, thinking so, has no idea of the divine, infallible teaching which ought to control the State and society. With him, therefore, it is no question of the gross and patent absurdity of a temporal power teaching religion to a spiritual power [he does not believe in a teaching spiritual power], but only a question of the State giving its support to the institution which represents dogmatic Protestantism. Now, so long as the whole country believed in dogmatic Protestantism, there was sense in the union of Church and State; but now that half the country disbelieves in it, while a large minority have given their hearts to dogmatic Ritualism, "Church and State" is an offence to the unbelievers, and an impediment to the freedom of the Ritualists. We trace, therefore, in this anti-establishment aggression the development of two perfectly distinct evils: the one (which is the greater) national faithlessness; the other a sectarian aping of Catholicity. This last evil is so final as to heresy that we may dwell on it for a very few moments in connection with the divorce of Church and State.
All changes which have taken place in English Protestantism, since the time when Queen Elizabeth first nationalized it, have led up, naturally and necessarily, to this final Anglican fallacy: the assumption of Catholic privileges by Protestants. We say " have led up to it naturally and necessarily.” All Protestantism having been “found wanting," both intellectually and spiritually, it was “necessary" to do one of two things: Protestants must either become Catholics or they must discover (a) Catholicity in Prot
estantism. Hence Ritualism! Catholics see the hollowness of the subterfuge; but doubtless many Ritualists do not see it. Now, "Church and State," when the Church meant “No Popery,” and when the State meant “We will see that you don't have it,” was a convenient and perfectly reasonable alliance; but "Church and State," when the Church means,“ We like Popery, though a Popery minus any Pope but ourselves;" and when the State means, “ You shall not have your Popery, and we will prosecute you in our law courts if you adopt it,” is an anomaly more distasteful even to the Ritualists than it is to the skeptics or the indifferentists. Hence the Anglican clergy who, in the old Protestant times, would have besought the State to protect them against Popery, are now divided into these two sects of apologists: they who say, “We are Catholic priests, and we do not want your interference, and won't have it;" and they who say, “We rather like your loaves and fishes; our only complaint is, you do not drive out those Ritualists." To either sect the raison d'être is insufficient. And when we add the mighty masses of indifferentists [skepticism infects one-half of the population], it is no marvel that the aggressiveness of the root-andbranch men is more powerful than the apologeticness of the pruning men.
To a Catholic, it would be a cause for deep regret, if the Church of England were to be obliterated out of the nation; because it has filled, and even still fills, an awful gap in the national mind—a gap which no other sect can fill. The Church of England has been a bulwark for three centuries against the oppressiveness of the worst forms of skepticism. It has done an immense deal of what may be called social good; conferring happiness or religious repose upon millions of the English poor, and also holding together the middle classes in fellowship. Moreover, the noblest advocates of the Christian religion, the most learned and grave apologists for the Christian faith, have been found in the ranks of the Anglican clergy -not in the ranks of Nonconformists; and, though, necessarily, their splendid works have been imperfect, it would be ungrateful to fail to acknowledge their vast merits. True, the days are gone, and gone forever, when the stiff-backed, old-fashioned Anglican clergy were the doctors of orthodoxy to the whole nation ; but let it be asked: Who can take their place in time to come? The Dissenters cannot do it; the Ritualists are but grave comedians; there is no powerful Evangelical party in the kingdom ; the Church of England, disestablished, would shrivel into an historic sect, honored solely for its grave past, its remembered names; it would not be, in future, a national monument to historic faith-a national protest against the wickedness of no religion : the severance of Church and State would be the destruction of the idea that the State ought
to profess, at least, Christianity. To the minds of the masses it would mean this. You cannot degrade a rich man to a poor estate, without implying that you do not care to honor that rich man; and, to disendow the National Church would certainly mean,
there are better uses,-nay, even, there are more religious uses,for all ecclesiastical property than is the present Anglican use.” And this would be to degrade the national religion. It is an instinct of the human mind to render homage; and when a "church” has no claim to infallibility, it must put forth, at least, credentials to respectability; so that, if the State say to the Church, “ Now, go about your business; and, as to your properties, we will discuss their uses in our civil parliament," it is only a natural, human conclusion that the once-honored Fallible Church has been weighed in the balance, and found wanting.
Very briefly, to summarize what has been said:
(1.) Politically, disestablishment is of party-interest, and Radicalism loves to pull down Tory strongholds.
(2.) Financially, the splendid properties of the Church are a fine bait to offer Radical constituencies, who, knowing little, and caring little, about equity, are easily lured to “return” demagogues who promise spoil.
(3.) No clerical party desires disestablishment, unless it be some few extreme Ritualists; while the Anglican laity would dislike it, both on traditional and fiscal grounds, save only such laity as are really Freethinkers.
(4.) Dissenters abuse the establishment "all round," politically, doctrinally, and ethically; but this is probably more from a sense of being humiliated, than from an intellectual or a religious repug
(5.) The "world"—that is, all who do not care for religion, yet who have a respect for all decorous institutions-rather favor than disfavor the Establishment, and they do so on such pleas as are suggested by common sense, with just a touch of (traditional) homage for propriety. They urge that the Establishment is a good bulwark against license; that a Protestant sovereign is a guarantee of national liberties; that revolution, when really urged by antiChristianism, is baneful to the national dignity and repose ; that disendowment would pecuniarily injure the poor, and not really benefit any class; that the cathedrals and the grander churches are splendid monuments of a Constitutionalism, of which no extreme party should make havoc; that a State Church probably costs less than a Free Church ; that education benefits largely by the parish system ; that existing scandals could be utterly removed by the Legislature, much more easily than a New Church could be constituted; and, finally, that neither disestablishment nor disendow
ment is, practically, within the sphere of political power, because the Church " has taken three centuries to be built up," and it would be impossible to respect the rights of its living heirs.
In the presence of all such reasoning, our conclusion is that the Church of England will be “let alone " for many sessions—many parliaments; or that, though the pruning-knife may be used pretty freely, the axe will not be laid to the roots. Revolution is not characteristic of the English mind; it is the game of the charlatan, the demagogue. No change could be more profoundly revolutionary than the defacing or effacing of the National Church, which represents (to the English mind) not only religious stability, but the very foundations of Constitutionalism. In Ireland, there was simply the case of a Catholic country which was overridden by a Protestant hierarchy-a monstrous and a patent anomaly. In England, it is really a case of a national Ecclesiasticism (less a Church than an assertion of Church principles), which gives the freest possible scope to every variety of opinions which can be included within the idea, Christian Religion. This may be said to suit the English Protestant mind. It is perfectly true that the growth in the two extremes-Freethinking and Ritualistic Pretension-has altered the relations of Church and State, has affected both their prerogatives and their mutuality, has even created an antagonism in principle which did not exist fifty years ago. All the more reason why what is left of national protest against the sweeping infidelity of the age should be treasured with conservative ardor; since the more you give way, the more you will have to give way -equally in politics and in religion. This is, of course, the English conservative point of view. As Catholics, we might have a good deal to say; but we have rather pictured the English, national estimate. What we would wish for the English Religion is one thing; but, seeing what it is, we do not want the Herbert Spencers to do in the Church what the Bradlaughs are trying to do in the Parliament.
HOW IRELAND HAS KEPT THE FAITH SINCE
HE outburst of Puritan fanaticism which culminated in the
despotism of Cromwell was only an episode in the history of English Protestantism. That system of belief is as essentially a political institution as was the old worship of pagan Rome. The politicians who established it cared little for religious truth, but much for political expediency, and political expediency had been their reason for changing the religious faith of the English people. A large section of the people had been unable to comprehend the motives of their rulers, and had carried their newlymade creed to lengths wholly beyond the designs of its makers. A generation of fanaticism had proved quite enough for the English people, and, on the death of Cromwell the former order of Church and State was restored in a torrent of popular enthusiasm. During a generation the term "fanatic” was an epithet of the deepest contumely in the English tongue. For in the latter part of the seventeenth century Cromwell and his assistants were regarded in England very much as Guiteau is now by the American people. The Puritan regime was denounced as a compound of dishonesty and cant, and the courtiers of Charles II. lost no opportunity of expressing their contemptuous hatred of the fallen Puritans. The Restoration of 1660, however, brought only a slight respite to the persecution of the Catholics in Ireland. The Government of Charles II. regarded a state religion as an important department of the administration, and the persistent refusal of the Irish Catholics to conform their creed to the orders of Parliament seemed to them little short of overt rebellion. The Cromwellian conquest had to a great extent identified English Protestantism with Puritanism in Ireland, and, as Puritans and Catholics were alike distasteful to their English rulers, some respite was naturally given to the latter there. A price was no longer set on the heads of priests, nor were the towns swept of their Catholic inhabitants, as under Cromwell, but, in other respects, the profession of the Catholic faith remained under the ban of the law. It might be connived at, but it could not be openly tolerated by the men who controlled the government. In many respects, the condition of the Church in Ireland under Charles II. resembled that of the German Catholics during the full rigor of the May laws, four years ago. The private belief of Catholics was but slightly troubled, but the organization of the Church was jealously forbidden. The rulers of England under the Restoration had little concern themselves about any system of religious