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Title: A letter to the Rev. Charles N. Wodehouse, Canon of Norwich, occasioned - by his recent publication, entitled, "What is the meaning of - Subscription?" - with a few observations on the speech &c. of the Lord Bishop of - Norwich, on Subscription
Author: Campbell, Charles
Language: English
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Transcribed from the 1841 J. S. Gowing edition by David Price.

                                 A LETTER
                                  TO THE
                        REV. CHARLES N. WODEHOUSE,
                            CANON OF NORWICH,
                                WITH A FEW
                        OBSERVATIONS ON THE SPEECH
                                  OF THE
                         LORD BISHOP OF NORWICH,

                      BY THE REV. CHARLES CAMPBELL,
                           VICAR OF WEASENHAM.

                                * * * * *

                         J. G. AND F. RIVINGTON.
                         J. S. GOWING, SWAFFHAM.
                          _Price Two Shillings_.

                                * * * * *

    “The Liturgy of the Church of England hath advantages, so many and so
    considerable, as not only to raise itself above the devotions of
    other Churches, but to endear the affections of all good people to be
    in love with Liturgies in general . . . The Rubrics of it were wrote
    in the blood of some of the compilers, men famous in their
    generation, whose reputation and glory of martyrdom, hath made it
    immodest for the best of men now to compare themselves with them.
    And its composure is so admirable, that the most industrious arts of
    its enemies can scarce find out an objection of value enough to make
    a doubt, or scarce a scruple in a serious spirit . . . There are also
    in the Offices forms of solemn Absolution and Benediction, and if
    they be not highly considerable, there is nothing sacred in the
    Evangelical Ministry, but the Altars themselves are made of
    unhallowed turf.”

                                                   _Bishop Jeremy Taylor_.



It was hoped that the little excitement occasioned by the debate of last
Session on a petition to the House of Lords for some alteration of our
Articles and Liturgy, had been suffered to subside; and it was with
regret we received the announcement of your recent publication, entitled
“What is the meaning of Subscription?”

I am not aware that any of the clergy of this Diocese, during the last
nine years, that is from the date of your first publication on this
subject, namely, “_A Petition to the House of Lords for Ecclesiastical
Improvements with Explanations_,” have shewn any disposition to
intermeddle with your proceedings, or to “condemn you for doing the best
you could in your own cause,” singular as they may have thought, and
_singular_ as you admit to have been “the mode adopted by you to obtain
your object.” {1}

Whatever they may have thought, they have hitherto been silent,
influenced I am persuaded more by feelings of respect for your personal
character, than from conviction of the strength of your position and the
consequent weakness of their own.  I can answer for myself, and I am
satisfied that I am speaking the general sense of the clergy of the
Diocese, in saying that they not only could, but had it been from any
circumstances necessary, would have borne their ready and willing
testimony to the truth and faithfulness of the eulogy pronounced by your
Diocesan on your “character and conduct as a clergyman and a gentleman.”

They must naturally therefore be the more inclined to wish that it had
consisted with your views to stop short of a public avowal that you could
not with any regard for “_truth and honesty_,” make the declaration to
which they hesitate not _ex animo_ to subscribe.

_Richard Baxter_ has said, “that many are apt to think that _this is
right_, because the best and strictest people are of this mind.” {2a}
With “many” therefore, your opinions will have their weight; and if the
Subscription of the clergy is to be judged by your views of it, their
situation would seem to be any thing but an enviable one.

And as these your views must seem to be strongly corroborated by the
congenial sentiments of our Diocesan; should I in the course of the
following observations, which I take the liberty of addressing to you,
hazard also a few remarks upon his Lordship’s reasons for deeming an
Expansion of Subscription desirable; I trust I shall find that I have not
been misled by your example, but that to me also, “it may be allowed to
differ from my superiors without disrespect or offence.” {2b}

Allow me then, to express my regret, that “res dura et regni _novitas_,”
as you may apply the royal excuse to your own _novel_ position, should
have compelled you to resort in your own case to a course you so
decidedly object to in others; more especially as you appear to have had
your misgivings, to have foreseen the possibility of “harm accruing from
it,” and very justly to have anticipated that the perusal of a
publication written with the object you appear to have had in view, would
“call forth a painful feeling in the minds of Christians and Churchmen.”

“No one,” you say, “can object more decidedly than yourself to the common
practice of publishing correspondence between individuals on matters
relating merely to themselves.” {3b}

But the practice is usually resorted to by others, as it seems to have
been by yourself, under an impression that the publication is in some way
or other “important to their own defence.” {3c}

You would however, and naturally enough, persuade yourself that yours is
“a very different case,” a case “relating strictly to a _public
question_, one affecting the whole Church, and indeed all Christians in
the nation.” {3d}

I will not stay to enquire whether viewing it in this light, the voice of
the Church ought not to have been heard above your own.  But I must think
that something more than you have advanced is requisite to constitute a
public question, and enable us to see the difference between your own
case and that of others, “who publish correspondence on matters _relating
merely to themselves_.”

It is true that your case has been publicly discussed in parliament, and
so has the case of many another individual; but I must think a
distinction is to be drawn between a person dragging his own affairs
before the public and a public affair; and any weight that you would
attach to the discussion you allude to, as giving to your case the
character and importance of a public question, may perhaps be lessened by
a consideration of the manner in which that discussion was brought about.
The Bishop of Lincoln rose, not to the question, but “at the particular
desire of the Rev. Mr. Wodehouse,” wishing to have his case brought into
notice; the Bishop of Norwich said that he “should not have risen, had
not the name of the Rev. Mr. Wodehouse been introduced;” and the Bishop
of London “would not have entered into the discussion, had it not been
for some observations which had escaped from the Bishop of Norwich.”  _No
temporal Peer rose_.  Strictly relating then as you would consider your
case to be a public question, there appeared but little indication of its
being so considered by the House of Lords, and as to the opinion of the
clergy, the Bishop of Lincoln observed, “I am not aware that any general
desire for such alterations exists, on the contrary, I believe, that
never did the great body of the clergy deprecate more strongly any change
in the Articles and Liturgy than at the present moment.”

The discussion however seems not a little to have disquieted you—but
having raised the whirlwind, though you have failed to guide it—ought you
not to have been less impatient of the storm?

    Leniter ex merito quicquid patiare ferendum est.

It is difficult to believe that on calmer reflection, a mind like yours
will experience no uneasiness at the recollection of having endeavoured
to turn an _intended_ kindness to the prejudice of those who had
conferred it, and in that light all must view the evident wish on the
parts of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Bishop of London, to
resolve your doubts, and as far as their private opinions could
avail—restore peace to your mind.  I allude to the use you have made of
private conversations, I say _private_, for up to a certain time you
appear to have so considered the opinions that were then given you.  “I
have been favoured,” you say in a letter to one of the Bishops, “with the
_private_ opinions of many persons I am _bound_ to respect.” {5a}  I
admit that for your further satisfaction you received permission to
_mention_, or as you say “make known what passed at these
interviews.”—Still, although it would have made no difference as to the
permission granted, had they even contemplated such a circumstance; I
suspect that the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London, must
have felt a little surprised to find that their every word had straitly
been observed—

    Set in a note book, conn’d and got by rote,
    To cast into their teeth—_eleven years_ afterwards!

Yet, by the aid alone of these communications, you have endeavoured to
fix upon the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London the
following charge, namely, “that in the debate of the 26th of May, 1840,
his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London more
decidedly endeavoured to crush the very idea of the _same latitude_,
which they had on other occasions most unequivocally allowed and
approved.” {5b}

I hesitate not for a moment to say that it is a charge unsupported even
by the shadow of a proof.  And let us first examine your evidence as it
bears upon the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The points to which you direct our attention in substantiation of your
charge are these:—His Grace’s conversation in May, 1829—his letters of
May 12, 1830—and March 18, 1840—and his speech in the debate on the

In his letter of March 18, 1840, his Grace says, “I shall be much
surprised if expressions are found in any letter of mine, which can be
_considered as an intended justification of your opinions_,” an
observation at variance, as you have persuaded yourself with his letter
of 1830, and his conversation with you in 1829.

In the first place I would submit that a distinction obtains between not
_condemning_ an opinion and _intending to justify_ it.  It is possible
that his Grace may take higher views of the power committed to the
stewards of the mysteries of God than you do.  But agreeing perhaps with
you that “the power of the keys” cannot as you have elsewhere observed,
be “_beyond a doubt_ defined.” {6a}  His Grace might be unwilling to
condemn your lower views, but you could scarcely have construed this into
an _intended justification_ of them.  He had besides told you “that the
absence of censure did not imply a tacit _acquiescence_ in your
opinions.” {6b}

But what was the latitude which his Grace thought fairly allowable, and
how far will it justify you in saying that in his speech he endeavoured
to crush the very idea of that _same_ latitude being allowed?

Your conversation with his Grace seems to have turned on the _three
points_ mentioned in your petition,—the Athanasian Creed, the Absolution,
and the words used in a part of the Ordination Service.  Upon your
mentioning the different opinions given by various eminent writers of our
church as to the Athanasian Creed and its condemnatory clauses, his Grace
observed, “_Well_—_none of these opinions has been condemned_, _take
whichever suits your own views_, _and be satisfied_.” {7a}  But you
cannot be satisfied, and although repeatedly told by his Grace, and also
by the Bishop of Lincoln, that you could not, so long as Convocation
remained in abeyance, obtain the _authoritative sense of the Church_ on
these points, you persist in pressing for it.  To a request to this
effect conveyed in a letter to his Grace, you again refer to the subject
of your conversation.  To this his Grace replies, “With respect to the
subject of your letter, I have only to refer you to our former
conversation, in which I expressed _an opinion_ that, on points where
writers of eminence have differed without slur on their orthodoxy, a
certain latitude of interpretation is fairly allowable.  But with respect
to the _authoritative sense of the Church_ on the points mentioned in
your petition, no individual has a right to declare it, if it is a matter
of doubt: and if, during a long succession of years, some difference of
opinion is found among writers eminent for learning and piety, the
silence of the Church, under such circumstances, may be taken as an
indication of her unwillingness to abridge the liberty of her members on
_these points_.” {7b}

I can see nothing here like an _intended justification_ of your opinions.
His Grace would give you it appears _no decision_ in private, he nowhere
led you to infer that he even _approved_ of your opinions, and could
hardly have intended you to conclude that he meant to _justify_ them.  He
tells you “he could not see how your position would be mended by an open
declaration of his opinion, _even if favourable_ to that exposition which
would suit your views,” {8} which seems at least to imply a doubt, and
where there is a doubt, the judge usually directs the jury to give the
prisoner the benefit of it, but this does not involve the judge’s
_approval_ or _intended justification_ of the prisoner’s case.

Yet this is all that his Grace admitted,—and to what had this admission a
reference?  To a certain latitude of _interpretation_ allowable under
certain circumstances.  And I think I can safely defy you to point out a
_solitary expression_ in his Grace’s speech on the 26th of May, 1840, in
which he attempts to evade this admission, or, in the language of your
accusation, “endeavours to crush the very idea of the _same_ latitude
which on other occasions he had unequivocally allowed and _approved_.”
His Grace’s _approval_ however is nowhere apparent.

His Grace addresses himself in his speech to the prayer of the petition,
“which he apprehends their Lordships will not countenance in the least
degree.”  And what is the prayer?  “It prays, amongst other things, your
Lordships to consider what measures ought to be adopted to make the
Prayer Book and the Subscription of the Liturgy consonant with the
_practice_ of the clergy, and the acknowledged meaning of the Articles of
the church.”  And what is the imputed _practice_ of the clergy?
According to the statement of the petitioners it is their “general
practice to _deviate_ from the authorised _forms_ and _positive
obligations_ of the Church,”—when with reference to your own case, the
three points on which you consulted his Grace, you can prove that to
_deviate_ from or _omit_ the Athanasian Creed—the Absolution—and the
words used at the Imposition of Hands—is the _same_ latitude, which with
reference to their _interpretation_, he had thought fairly allowable.—You
may then boast that you have convicted the Spiritual Head of the Church
of inconsistency and duplicity, and no one will attempt to controvert
your insinuation that his Grace “has one opinion at Lambeth, and another
in the House of Lords.” {9a}

Your charge as it affects the Bishop of London, rests on similar
evidence.  His Lordship’s conversation in 1829—a letter of 1830—and his
speech in 1840.  You consulted his Lordship in 1829 on the same subjects,
and received in substance the same reply as had been given to you by the
Archbishop.  And I can as confidently defy you to point out in his
Lordship’s speech in 1840, a passage that can give any colouring of
justice to your charge; unless you can shew that to deprecate an
_alteration_ of our Articles and Liturgy is the same thing as to admit
that certain parts of them may bear a difference of _interpretation_, or
show that there is no difference between an _existing_ “elasticity” and a
_further_ “expansion.”

Your evidence then, if anywhere, must be found in his Lordship’s letter
of 1830.  The letter of which you complain to the Archbishop as “_unkind
and inconsistent with former advice_.” {9b}

But as you seem to me to have conversed with his Lordship on one subject,
and to have written to him, the following year, upon another, I do not
see how you make it appear that his Lordship’s letter was inconsistent
with his former advice.

It does not appear that you had asked his Lordship “in what sense you
would be expected to subscribe” _in future_, but whether _having
subscribed_, certain opinions which you had taken up, were consistent
with your Subscription.  His Lordship thought that they were.

But nine months afterwards, on being called upon to _renew_ your
Subscription, you inform his Lordship that you had determined not to make
it again but with a sort of _protest_.—By Subscription, you are called
upon to declare that “the Book of Common Prayer and of ordering Bishops,
Priests, and Deacons, containeth in it nothing _contrary_ to the word of
God, and that the Articles are _agreeable_ to it:” but to this you will
not assent, unless you may at the same time be permitted to declare that
you do not believe it.  You must explain, you tell his Lordship, the
sense in which you shall have no objection to subscribe, and that through
the medium of a petition to parliament.  Now there appears nothing in
your report of the conversation to lead to the inference, nor can I
easily bring myself to think that his Lordship could have led you to
infer that a _qualified_ Subscription was admissible either from
candidates for orders, or other clergymen.  A different exposition of the
general doctrine laid down in several of our Articles, may be fairly
allowable; the _letter_ of our Liturgy may in several parts admit of a
different interpretation, and if taking our own views of these points,
believing them not inconsistent with an allowable interpretation of the
words, we can _unreservedly_ subscribe, well and good—but for my own
part, I should scarcely expect it of a Bishop to receive a qualified
Subscription from me, the precedent I must think would be a bad one, and
the practice subversive of the very object of Subscription, independent
of the awkward acknowledgement it involves, that our Church exacts from
her members a form of Subscription, which cannot be made without a

You scarcely could have inferred from his Lordship’s _advice_, that he
“unequivocally allowed and approved of _this_ latitude.”  But as he had
told you that he thought your interpretation of certain points
admissible, and that you might openly hold your opinions, you _might_
have inferred that he also considered them consistent with an
“_unreserved_ Subscription, and that according to the literal sense of
the words”—for the question is, will not the literal sense of the words
bear a different _application_?  You subscribe _unreservedly_, at least
you have given us no reason to suppose otherwise, to the Apostles’ Creed,
in which we are told that Christ sitteth at the _right hand_ of God, but
the _literal_ meaning of the words is at variance with the truth, that
“God is without body, parts, or passions.” {11}  I must think that you
have conjured up a greater difficulty on the score of Subscription than
in reality obtains.  At all events you must detail some further
particulars of his Lordship’s conversation, before you will enable us to
detect its discrepancy with the subject of his subsequent letter.

But if his Lordship’s private opinion on the allowable interpretation of
the points on which you consulted him, failed to remove your doubts and
scruples, and you were after all fully persuaded in your own mind that
the words in question could by no possibility bear the only
interpretation with which you could _conscientiously_ subscribe to them;
I cannot see how the _open sanction_ of the Church could affect you to
the “easing of your conscience.”  For surely if the words will _not_ bear
a certain sense, the Church cannot make them—the sanction of all the
Bishops in Christendom could never make _black_ mean _white_.  If you are
of opinion that it could, for a Protestant you must entertain rather high
views of the power of the Church—and yet such would seem to be your
opinion, for in the “Circular” which you sent a day or two before the
presentation of the petition last year, to “all the Peers whose London
residences could be ascertained;” after alluding to _these opinions_
which you had received from the Archbishop and the Bishop of London, you
say, “my answer was, if such be the case, let these statements be _openly
sanctioned_, and I am content.  But I cannot with _truth and honesty_
subscribe, not according to the _literal_ meaning of the words, _unless_
such latitude _be authorised by the Church_.”

Now if the Subscription is still to be made to the same form of words, it
is very difficult to see how the _authority of the Church_ can impart to
them a meaning, to which without that authority _truth and honesty_ would
forbid you to subscribe.  If you do not take care, the Editors of the
Oxford Tracts will mark you for their own, in spite of yourself.

But in what position do you now stand?  You have _done_ what you informed
the Bishop of London, you could “not be comfortable without doing.”  You
have made known to the world, and that by the means you proposed to
yourself, namely, a petition to parliament, what your opinions are, and
the world interferes not with them, nor does the Church condemn them; you
have only therefore to arrange the matter with your own conscience—if
that condemns you, your course is a clear one.  But why should it condemn
you more for the next fourteen years, than it would seem to have done for
the last fourteen?  During that time you have held your preferment with
your opinions, and why should you not continue to hold your opinions with
your preferment?

You tell us that your object was eleven years ago to “ascertain _with
certainty_ whether you held any opinion which the Church condemned.” {13}
You were informed that the _authoritative sense_ of the Church on the
points you wished for information _could not_ in the abeyance of
Convocation be obtained; but you were at the same time told, and that, by
many whose opinions probably would have had great weight in Convocation
had it been immediately convened for your satisfaction, that they
considered your opinions allowable, that the Church did not condemn them;
and I think it would have been a reasonable inference with which to have
quieted your conscience, that had the Convocation been assembled, the
authoritative sense of the Church would not have been against you.

And certain passages in your ministerial career had led us to hope and to
infer that you had come to that conclusion, that having unburthened your
mind, you were at rest.  For in 1836, you presented a second petition to
the House of Lords, but from that time, as far at least as we could judge
from your proceedings, you seemed to have given up your pursuit, at all
events, it appears that you rested upon your oars till 1840.  And in the
interim, in the year 1837, after having abstained for some years, and in
consequence as it was supposed of your scruples, we saw you again
_voluntarily_ coming forward, and in your character of a Presbyter,
officiating at the ceremony of the _Imposition of Hands_, co-operating
with the Bishop during the recital of the very words at which your
conscience had taken such alarm, and with respect to which in your former
petition, “you had humbly and earnestly prayed that such steps might be
taken as should seem good to their Lordships, in order to effect those
alterations in the Liturgy which would relieve the conscience of their
petitioner.” {14a}  And we had also subsequently read the resolution you
had come to, and _deliberately_ published in 1838.  In a note to a sermon
which you published in that year, you say, “In the absence of all
authoritative censure, I conclude as many others do, that a silent change
has taken place, ‘from the diversity of times and men’s manners.’  In
that conclusion I abide, repeating what I have often said, that
_whenever_ I am pronounced wrong on _authority_, I am ready to meet the
consequences.” {14b}

I can myself say, and I am sure that all who have had any opportunity of
knowing you, will say it with the same sincerity, in that conclusion we
most heartily wish that you _would_ abide—that you would continue to
discharge your pastoral duties, your deliberate and solemnly accepted
engagements to the “Chief Shepherd” in the same exemplary manner that has
marked your hitherto career, _until_ you are pronounced wrong _on
authority_—or called from your stewardship to render up your account with
joy.  In what estimation you may hold the opinions of your brother
petitioners, the _Messrs. Hull_, I know not, but they say, “Our clergy
_cannot_ leave the Church—their _ordination vows are upon them_.”  And
besides, my dear sir, to rush upon martyrdom in the absence of all
persecution, or, as far as the public can see, any apparent necessity,
will at best obtain for you but an Empedoclean sort of fame.  And as
nothing has occurred since you published your resolution in 1838, to
affect your situation differently from what it had been for nine or ten
years before, save the failure of another petition; should you resign in
consequence of that circumstance, it would look almost as if you resigned
merely to spite the Archbishop.

But under the little difficulty that exists of ascertaining with any
certainty what your intentions have been, or even now are, we earnestly
trust they may not result in the alternative of a resignation, to which
in the course of your correspondence you have made such frequent
allusions.  “An alternative,” which as Bishop Heber says, “it is easy to
suggest in the case of a brother, but which every man in his own case
receives with difficulty.” {15a}

A few days before the presentation of the last petition you wrote to his
Grace thus, “If I fail on this occasion . . .  I consider myself pledged
to resign my preferment.” {15b}  The result of that petition was
unfavourable.  But ten months afterwards, that is, in your last
publication, you call upon his Grace to pronounce that judgment which he
had told you he “was _unwilling_ to pronounce on scruples which he hoped
time might remove,” {15c}—“and _should_ that judgment require such a
step, you will with God’s permission resign next December, _unless_ a
clear expression of public opinion should intervene appealing against the
judgment pronounced.” {15d}

Let us hope then that you will abide in this your _latest_ resolution,
for I think from the evidence with which you have furnished us, we may
venture to conclude that no such judgment will be pronounced as shall
call for any expression of public opinion.

I shall now proceed to hazard a few observations on the reasons assigned
by the Bishop of Norwich in favour of an _Expansion_ of Subscription,
seeing that they are considered by many so strongly to confirm the
correctness of your own views, and as you have told us that you cannot
consistently with _truth and honesty_ make the required Subscription, we
cannot but apprehend that in the proportion that those views are believed
to be substantial and correct, the character of the clergy must be
prejudiced, at all events in the eyes of those, who unwilling or unable
to investigate the matter for themselves, take up the opinions of others,
and arriving through them at a corollary of their own, hesitate not to go
as far as to declare that “_all_ the clergy are _perjured_.”

As I can devise no better, I shall pursue the plan you have adopted with
respect to the speech of the Bishop of London, that is, giving such
extracts from his Lordship’s speech as bear upon the subject of
Subscription, with a running comment of my own.  I will not however,
introduce my remarks with the preface you have affixed to your “plain
story,”—giving us to understand that it is intended to be “a refutation
of almost every statement in the Bishop of London’s speech.” {16}  Lest
having led my readers to exclaim

    Quid dignum tanto feret hic promissor hiatu.

I should leave them to conclude that I had been labouring under what the
faculty, I believe, term “a false conception.”

His Lordship’s first reason for wishing for a more expanded Subscription,
is that—

    “IF _it be true that there is anything approaching to the appearance
    of insincerity on the part of those making the Subscription_, _if we
    seem to confess with our lips that we do not confess and believe in
    our hearts we give our opponents a vantage ground of which they will
    not be slow to avail themselves_.”

There is said to be much virtue in an IF, and _eâ virtute nos
involvissemus_, had not his Lordship torn the covering away, and “left us
naked to our enemies,”—self-convicted of “confessing with our lips that
we do not confess and believe in our hearts.”  For says his Lordship—

    “IN FACT, _with respect to Subscription_, _I have never yet met with
    a single clergyman_ (_and I have spoken with almost numberless
    individuals on the subject_), _who ever allowed that he agreed in
    every point_, _in every iota to the Subscription which he took at

It would not be treating his Lordship with candour to give to his
observation an offensive meaning, which it was not intended to convey.
It is more with reference to the mal-construction and malicious use of it
by our opponents, that we are led to wish that it had not been made.
Since his Lordship’s subsequent pamphlet, from which we collect the sense
in which he was viewing Subscription, when he made the observation, a
sense in which, for instance with reference to those clauses of the
Athanasian Creed, which are commonly, and unjustly, called _damnatory_,
few I suspect do subscribe, being, in my opinion, in no wise bound to an
application of the clauses, so manifestly at variance with the spirit in
which the formulary was imposed on us by our Reformers;—since I say, this
pamphlet can obtain but a very small part of the circulation of the
speech itself, where the observation stands _unqualified_; the general
impression of his Lordship’s meaning must be that the clergy subscribe
_ex animo_, to that which _ex animo_ they do not believe.

At the same time I have never seen the necessity of responding to those
appeals through which the clergy of this Diocese have been called upon to
take some public step, to repel the observation as an implied libel upon
them.  I would rather it should be remembered that his Lordship,
comparatively speaking, has been but a short time amongst us, and that
for anything we can tell, the enquiries of which he speaks may have been
chiefly made amongst the clergy of another Diocese, (indeed, considering
that it is not a likely question for a Bishop to put to candidates for
Orders, or his clergy generally, the inference must be that they were),
and if their “withers should be galled,” let them respond to these
appeals, “ours are unwrung.”

It must, however, be admitted that any _insincerity_ in the matter of
Subscription, would deservedly expose us to the contempt of our
opponents.—But a generous mind would shrink instinctively from inferring
insincerity from any thing _approaching only to its appearance_.
_Decipimur specie_ ought to hold with respect to _evil_ not less than
_good_.  Still, alas! to the jaundiced eye every object presents itself
in colours not its own.  And I fear that the opinion which his Lordship
would seem to entertain of the actuating spirit of our opponents, is but
too well founded, and amply justifies his apprehension that _they_ would
not be slow to avail themselves of the _appearance_, caring little to
dissipate the “mentis gratissimus error,” by ascertaining themselves of
the non-existence of the _reality_.  That accomplished, but embittered
infidel, the historian Gibbon, did not scruple to declare that the
clergy, one and all of them, made their Subscription either “with a sigh
or a smile;” but I trust that the clergy, as a body, can afford to leave
such opponents in the unmolested possession of their imaginary vantage
ground.  Until _Mordecai_ was removed from his seat at the gate, the soul
of _Haman_ could not be quieted within him—nor will the souls of our
opponents, until the Church is brought down to a level with their own

    “_If it_ (_Subscription_) _is to be understood in the literal_, _most
    strict_, _and most stringent sense_, _it would create difficulties_,
    _which must weigh heavily upon scrupulous and tender consciences_.”

But even supposing this—where there is no compulsion, there no violence
can be done to the conscience, and no one is compelled to “enter the
church,” and in using the expression, I confess I cannot perceive with
the _Messrs. Hull_, that it is redolent “of a very popish error,” it
certainly means, as they observe, “taking orders;” and I should think
that the last persons likely to present themselves to a Bishop for that
purpose, would be those whose consciences were already overborne by the
pressure of their scruples.

“Tenderness of conscience,” says _Bishop Jeremy Taylor_, “is an equivocal
term, and does not always signify in a good sense.” {19}  I am far from
meaning to impeach the sincerity of the petitioners, but if his Lordship
applied the term in any other than a _good sense_, he might seem to have
paid them but an equivocal compliment, and if he used it in a good sense
with respect to _them_, the great body of the clergy who have subscribed,
and felt no pang, might suspect his Lordship of meaning to imply that
they were gifted with consciences of a somewhat tougher texture than is
altogether to be envied.  Some have chosen to draw this inference; I will
not however believe that they have done his Lordship’s deliberate
sentiments justice in so doing.

    “_And by continuing these difficulties_ (_of Subscription_) _we
    should leave the way open only to those whose consciences have no
    scruples_, _and who would enter the Church only with a view to the
    profits and secular advantages_.”

I would submit that a man may enter the Church with _a_ view to its
_secular_ advantages, without being justly involved in the suspicion of
_insincerity_, or of necessity, laying himself open to the imputation of
entering it _only_ with a view to its profits.  For instance, should a
gentleman have in his gift what is commonly called a _family living_, he
may design it as a provision for a younger son, who enters upon a course
of study and trains himself for the ministry, and that without
necessarily discarding all view to the _secular_ advantages of his
profession, knowing that “they which preach the gospel should live of the
gospel:” but so far from its following that he enters the Church with _no
other_ or higher motive; how frequently do we find it the case with those
whose lot has thus been cast, as it were, for them, that they prove not
merely exemplary parish priests, but eventually rise to adorn the
_Episcopal Bench_.  His Lordship will not object to my adducing his own
successful career as a case in point.

But if such characters as his Lordship speaks of, can even _now_ in the
teeth of all the imputed difficulties, enter the church, if they be so
disposed, I do not clearly see how removing these difficulties will
mitigate the evil—how widening the portal will tend to obstruct the
entrance.  Nor, although it stands so recorded in his Lordship’s speech,
will I believe it to be, his deliberate opinion, that by leaving the
matter of Subscription as it _now_ stands, we leave the way open _only_
to those whose consciences can feel _no scruples_.  If these expressions
of his Lordship are to be taken only in a good sense, I trust for the
credit of the Church that his Lordship is not the only exception to the
general rule.  The _Messrs. Hull_, in their animadversions on the Bishop
of London’s speech, draw a nice distinction between “opening the door,”
and “leaving it open.”  In cases of burglary I believe the distinction
involves a difference; we may venture therefore to hazard a guess to
which of the brothers, the lawyer or the divine, we may attribute that
contribution to the joint stock pamphlet. {21}

    “_But there is an answer commonly given_, _and a weighty one_, _to
    this objection_.  _The Church has a sort of elasticity which allows
    and graduates the differences that exist_.”

Yet on the use of the word “elasticity” by the Bishop of London, you say,
“I confess myself entirely unable to distinguish between the ‘expansion’
of the one prelate or the ‘elasticity’ of the other.” {22a}  If there is
no difference between the existing elasticity and the expansion pleaded
for, for what boon did the petitioners pray?  I anticipate your answer,
and will reply to it presently.

    “_It does not become the Church of England_, _a Church founded on
    liberty of conscience and the right of private judgment_, _to say
    that there shall not be a certain latitude of opinion_.”

This observation has been the theme for much discussion.  It has been
pretty roundly insinuated that his Lordship’s meaning had been wilfully
misapprehended by the Bishop of London.  I see myself but little ground
for the insinuation.  It will at all events be admitted that his Lordship
did not qualify or define the sense in which he used the observation.  He
has however explained his meaning and the extent to which he applied it
in his pamphlet, or as you term it “brief defence” of his speech.

After quoting the “passing remarks of a country newspaper,” as
elucidatory of his Lordship’s meaning, you say, “I cannot believe the
Bishop of London could be blind to a distinction so obvious.” {22b}  For
the present, be it so.  In the same page in which this expression of your
incredulity as to his Lordship’s blindness occurs, you quote another
passage from his speech, that in which he observes of Subscription,—“it
is not required from all members of the Church, but only from the
ministers of the Church, as a security against a greater evil, &c.”  Upon
which you exclaim, “can we forget that _all_ graduates at the
universities are required to subscribe, that these are all _laymen_?”
Not very easily, I admit.  And which would you wish us to suppose?  That
his Lordship had forgotten it, or that he was ignorant of it, or that he
intended to palm upon the audience before which he spake such an
assertion as a _literal_ fact?  As I am inclined to think that _you_
suppose neither one nor the other, I must say, “I cannot believe that you
could be blind to his Lordship’s meaning,” and could not help exclaiming
on reading your ready imputation against the Bishop of London—“Physician!
heal thyself.”

But whilst so many explanations have since been given of the meaning in
which this observation was made by the Bishop of Norwich, and so many
insinuations levelled at the Bishop of London for not choosing to see it,
I am disposed to think that his Lordship did not feel himself called upon
to dive into the thoughts of the Bishop of Norwich, but intending to give
a direct negative to an unqualified affirmative, meant to re-repudiate
the notion that “the church of England, _was_ founded on liberty of
conscience, and the right of private judgment,” and to assert with
reference to the well-known _fruits_ of such a principle, that the Church
was founded on “truth.”  But the Bishop of Norwich contends that the
expression is an “incorrect” one, and that had he been speaking of “the
only true foundation of the true Catholic Church itself,” he should have
said that it was “founded on the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ
himself being the chief corner stone.” {24a}  The Bishop of London could
scarcely have thought the _periphrasis_ necessary, considering before
whom he was speaking, he would probably reply to the imputed
incorrectness of the expression, that he always considered the foundation
of which the Bishop of Norwich here speaks, to be “truth,” and that the
Church was the interpreter of the _Apostles_, and _Prophets_, and _Jesus
Christ_, or in other words of the _Gospel of Christ_.  He meant also I
should suppose, to repudiate the notion, that _the Reformation of the
Church_ proceeded on such a principle, and in effect to affirm that from
the days of Archbishop Cranmer to these of Archbishop Howley, no such
principle had ever been recognized by the _Church_, as that of admitting
“liberty of conscience and the right of private judgment,” to have any
_directive_ influence in Church affairs; a fact, which if not
sufficiently proved by the mandate of Edward the Sixth, enforcing under
the penalties of “sequestration, suspension, excommunication, and such
_other coercion_, as to ordinaries or others having ecclesiastical
jurisdiction, shall seem convenient, straitly charging and commanding his
loving subjects to observe the injunctions of 1547,” {24b}—would be amply
established by your own observations respecting _Bishop Hooper_, for the
sending of the good old man to prison in the matter of the vestments, and
that by the _Reformers_ themselves, would seem but little to favour the
notion that our reformed Church was founded on “liberty of conscience and
the right of private judgment.”

But that I may not also be accused of misapprehending his Lordship’s
meaning, I will here quote his explanation of the sense in which the
observation was made—

    “_It is of course plain that I was neither speaking of the Catholic
    Church at all_, _nor even of the Church of England_, _except in its
    character of a Reformed Church_, _founded as such on the principles
    of the Reformation_, _which I again deliberately assert to be liberty
    of conscience and the right of private judgment_, _in opposition to
    that Church from whence it separated_, _in which the authority of
    Popes_, _Councils_, _and Priests_, _superseded all appeal to the
    scriptures themselves_, _and by which of course freedom of judgment
    was strictly prohibited_.” {25a}

Not that it bears upon his Lordship’s argument, still I would
respectfully submit whether our alleged _separation_ here from the Church
of Rome be strictly correct; we threw off our allegiance to the _usurped_
authority, temporal and spiritual, of the Pope; we reformed the abuses of
_our own Church_, but we _separated_ from no mother Church.  The
episcopal Church in England existed long before the Pope cast his eye
upon it.—“In the acts of the Council of Arles, which was held A.D. 314,
we find the Subscriptions of three British Bishops.” {25b}

But I would further question whether in his Lordship’s _qualified_ sense
of the observation it can with any strictness be said, that our
_reformed_ Church was founded on the principle he contends for.

It will, I think, be admitted that whatever was done with reference to
the Church by that “Postilion of the Reformation,” as Burnet calls him,
the _Papist_ Henry, was done by him more with a view “to cudgel the Pope
into a compliance with what he desired,” {26a} than from any desire to
reform our religion.  At all events, we must give up any attempt to
reconcile his “six acts” with “liberty of conscience.”

The reformation of our _religion_ had its commencement in the reign of
his successor.  Here, if any where, we must look for the principle in
question.  But can it be said that our religion was reformed “in
_opposition_ to the authority of Popes and Councils,” when it is so well
known, that “the Bishop of Rome’s usurped power and jurisdiction was of
most just causes taken away and _abolished_,” {26b} in the preceding
reign?  Neither can it, I think, in strictness be said, _of that time_,
that the _Priests_ superseded all appeal to the scriptures, seeing that
it was by the Bishops themselves that the scriptures were chiefly caused
to be circulated.  I am speaking not of the German Protestant Church, but
that of which his Lordship speaks, “the Church of England, in its
character of a reformed Church.”  And I have before shewn on your own
authority in the matter of _Hooper_, that she recognised nothing so
little as the principle of “liberty of conscience.”  That sectarism or
separation _from_ the Church is founded on this principle, will be

It has always appeared to me, that the hacknied phrase, “liberty of
conscience and the right of private judgment,” applied to an associated
body, is a pure fallacy, I had almost said, a cobweb to catch the fly
popularity, quite as valuable as an appeal, “_ad captandum vulgus_,” as
the cry—“_Nolumus leges Angliæ mutari_,” to which “catch-word,” his
Lordship attributes the defeat of the attempt to revise the Liturgy in
1689.  You also attribute this defeat to “the violence of party;” but
there are those, and the late pious and excellent _Bishop Jebb_ amongst
the number, who ascribe it to the “_special interference of Providence_.”
“But the special interference of Providence did not terminate with the
first establishment of our Liturgy . . .  Even within the Church itself,
some were found whose integrity cannot be impeached, who were on the
point of introducing alterations which could not have failed to prove
equally injurious to the cause of truth and piety.” {27a}  Even Bishop
Burnet, one of the Commissioners, with reference to the probable result
of those contemplated alterations of 1689, imputes the failure of the
attempt to a “very happy direction of the providence of God observed in
the matter.” {27b}

The Church, however, coerces the conscience of no man, every one is at
liberty to take his own religious course, and I confess I cannot see why
that which is conceded to all other societies should be denied to the
Church—the right of being governed by her own constitutions, and the
right also of judging what constitutions are most conducive to the
welfare and good order of her community.

If I could not conscientiously conform to the doctrines and discipline of
the _Baptist_ or the _Independent_, I question if they would allow me to
give my conscience the liberty to act amongst them according to its
dictates.  They would no more deny than we do ourselves, the abstract
principle, neither would they “fine,” nor put me in “the pillory,” but I
suspect they would “exclude” me, and with very good reason, from their
ministry.  To talk of conceding the abstract right of private judgment,
has always appeared to me a good deal like talking of conceding to a
person with sound lungs the privilege of breathing.  But to contend for
the _principle_ and talk of certain latitudes and limits, seems to me to
involve a contradiction—once assign any _limits_ to the “right,” and you
destroy the principle.  But although his Lordship pleads for the
principle being, as he contends, that on which our Church is founded, and
ought to be acted upon, he would circumscribe it within “a certain
latitude of opinion.”  He would not have it trench upon “the
distinguishing features and essential doctrines of the Christian Church.”
But who is to be the judge of these doctrines?  Two of the petitioners,
the _Messrs. Hull_, repudiate the very idea of the Church being the
authorized interpreter of the truth.  “If,” say these brothers, in
allusion to a remark by the Bishop of London, “the word ‘authorised’ bear
its usual signification, such a remark would indeed be inconsistent with
liberty of conscience and the right of private judgment.” {28a}

Again, arguing from _the abuse_ of Subscription by “unconscientious and
unscrupulous men,” they say, “it is on that account that the simplest
Creed, and the truth to which the term ‘necessary’ is directly applied in
our bible, are enough to justify a call into the ministry.” {28b}

But let any one compare the following passage, from _Mr. Belsham’s_ first
letter to a former Bishop of London, with his exposition of the
Unitarians’ Creed, as it is given at the end of that _lucus a non
lucendo_—his “Calm Inquiry.”  “That the Unitarians believe _everything
that __is essential_ to salvation is _evident_ from the unequivocal
testimony of the Apostle Paul himself, who in the Epistle to the Romans,
x. 9, expressly teaches that if we confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus,
and believe in our heart that God hath raised him from the dead, we shall
be saved.”  Here then we have a professed believer in the _simplest
creed_—but will it “justify his call into the ministry?”  Take again the
case of the _Baptist_, agreeing with us I believe on all the essential
doctrines of Christianity, admitting the _necessity_ of _Baptism_, but
differing from us only on a question of _time_.  With our views on Infant
Baptism should we be justified in admitting him into the ministry? and if
not, what becomes of liberty of conscience and the right of private
judgment?  Might not the professed believer in this simple creed and the
Baptist, under the contemplated restrictions of the principle complain
with you “that the same invasion of Christian liberty remains?  Fines,
and imprisonment, and the pillory, have vanished; _exclusion_ remains (to
them) in the same unabated force.” {29}  Let us then remove the
corrective remedy of Subscription to Articles of Faith, and where shall
we stay the progress of the gangrene?  How shall we exclude “the naughty

    “_I consider that by in any way expanding the sense and meaning of
    Subscription_, _a boon would be granted_, _and a great benefit
    conferred upon the scrupulous and tender consciences of those who are
    among_”—it might be asked how they came there—“_or may become the
    brightest ornaments of the establishment_.”

But if these ornaments can only be secured at the risk, I do not say with
the “_intention_” of letting into the ministry together with them, men
who hold things _contrary to sound doctrine_, however exemplary may be
their lives, however brilliant their acquirements, still should they be
in error concerning the Faith, shall we not have purchased them at too
high a price?

Brighter ornaments we may never hope to see than that army of martyrs,
those profoundly learned and eminently pious men, the sanctity of whose
lives, the fervour of whose holy zeal in the cause of Christ have shed an
undying lustre on the religion they professed when living, and who being
dead yet speak—and in the accents of encouragement to the _tenderest_
conscience, seem to breathe a _crede nobis_,—the Church in the holy
communion of which WE lived and died, proffers nothing to be received as
an article of faith, that is “not _agreeable_ to the word of _God_,”
nothing as a point of discipline “that is _contrary_ to it.”

    “_I would remove every obstacle in the way of Subscription_, _by
    which tender consciences of unquestionable orthodoxy_, _agreeing on
    every point essential to Christianity_, _might be relieved from
    difficulties_, _which I know weigh much with men of honourable and
    high feeling_.”

But when Subscription is objected to as it is by the petitioners, because
they think it pledges them to an assent to things unscriptural, as for
instance “the _unscriptural character_ of the Athanasian Creed,” as it is
viewed by the _Messrs. Hull_, and the non-agreement of it, and other
matters in the scripture as they are viewed by yourself—when the
alternative is to give assent to matters that are _contrary to
scripture_, or to sacrifice “_truth and honesty_,”—surely the expression
of a _tender_ conscience is incorrectly applied to men like these.  For
what must be the _toughness_ of theirs who could submit to the

But although the Bishop of Norwich would not allow “liberty of
conscience” to extend so far as to trench upon the “essential doctrines
of the Christian Church.”  Nevertheless, having alluded in his speech to
the difficult circumstances in which the reformers were placed, and in
consequence of which “_the Articles of the Church were framed on a
reference to the opinions of a very wide body who differed among
themselves on many important points_.”  His Lordship contends in the
“brief defence” of his speech, “that it only _requires the full carrying
out of this principle into practice_, to meet the difficulties of the
present case.” {31}

The radical reformer of the State contends that it only requires the
_full carrying out_ of the principle of the Reform Bill, to give
universal suffrage and universal satisfaction to the people, and I am
inclined to think that the result in either case would be pretty much the
same—equally disastrous to the Church as to the State.

But it has been contended during the present movement, that if
alterations be made in our Liturgy to meet one tender conscience, a
similar boon should be extended to all.  Upon this objection his Lordship
argues, “if this be true, it is much more true that if _no latitude_ is
to be allowed in any subordinate point, we cannot make exceptions in one
case more than another.”  But this appears to me to be a _petitio
principii_, it is assuming that there is no existing “elasticity,” no
departure from an _iota_ admissible, _no latitude_ in any point,
subordinate or otherwise already recognized, and if so, seeing that on
most of the points on which your objections hinge, his Lordship would
seem, from his pamphlet, to coincide with you in your views, it might not
unreasonably be asked,—how Dr. Stanley came to be at this moment, Bishop
of Norwich.

Still, I think it may reasonably be asked, as it is, if this principle of
concession in consideration to _tender consciences_ be once admitted,
where are the probable demands upon it likely to find a limit?

The question would seem then to resolve itself into a choice of evils,
and _e malis minimum_, we must ask therefore, which would be most
conducive to the welfare and _respectability_ of the Church, to require
Subscription to be made unreservedly and according to the literal meaning
of the words and sense in which they were imposed, or to allow such a
latitude as may enable every one to subscribe in what sense he
please?—“_Quicunque vult_, is an ill preface to a law.”

A proposition similar to the last has been stated and canvassed by
_Bishop Jeremy Taylor_, and he says of it—“This is the last remedy, but
it is the worst, it hath in it something of craft, but very little of
ingenuity, and if it serve the ends of peace or external charity, or a
fantastic concord, yet it cannot serve the ends of truth and holiness,
and christian simplicity.” {32}

How far the Bishop of Norwich may be disposed to go in carrying out his
benevolent object (and I speak it in perfect sincerity, for I believe his
Lordship to be actuated by the very best intentions), of giving relief to
tender consciences and promoting peace and unity amongst Christians, I
pretend not to say—for his Lordship’s pamphlet leaves the matter more
doubtful than his speech, inasmuch as amongst those whose sentiments his
Lordship quotes as being most in accordance with his own, and with
reference to whom “compared with many of their modern opponents,” he

    Mallem magis cum Platone errare quam cum istis rectè sentire.

His Lordship quotes the opinion of Bishop Warburton, namely, that
“_schism_ which all must admit to be an evil, is one which nothing but
the Church _widening her communion_, can prevent or cure.” {33}

I confess I could never clearly see how the Church _can_ conscientiously
_widen_ her communion.  What are the pleas for separation?  They hinge
not on _letters_ and _iotas_, nor on this or that particular _passage_ in
our Liturgy, they resolve themselves into _two_—our Doctrines and our
Church Government.  One or other of these is the plea alleged by _every
denomination_ of separatists, from the frigid _Socinian_, to the
fanatical _Jumper_.  Giving these separatists therefore credit for
seceding or keeping aloof of us on these grounds, and, that _for
conscience sake_—we can only expect to “prevent schism,” by leaving the
divinity of our Saviour “an open question,” and abolishing Episcopacy

But may we not ask, if tenderness of conscience is to be respected when
it takes offence at _non-essentials_, why is it to be disregarded when it
stumbles at the far more important matters, _the essentials_ of
Christianity, the “distinguishing features of the Christian Church?” and
is not Episcopacy a distinguishing feature?  But with the exception of
the Roman Catholic, there is not a separatist in the three kingdoms who
is agreed with us on that point.  Are the divinity of Christ and the
atonement essential doctrines?  But the so called Unitarian, in the
exercise of his private judgment, pronounces them to be falsehoods.  Is
Infant Baptism a distinguishing feature?  But the Baptist, as he styles
himself, condemns it as a senseless and unscriptural rite, nor will the
liberty in which he indulges his conscience permit him to hold communion
with any Church that practises it.  Is the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper
a distinguishing feature?  But the tender conscience of the Quaker
rioting in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made him free, will not
deign to return to these “beggarly elements,”—“the _policy of Satan_
busying people with outward signs.” {34a}

Since then we must give up the pleasing hope of bringing schismatics
_back_ to the fold, we may narrow the question, and limit the proposed
revision of our Articles and Liturgy, to the removal of every “cause of
uneasiness” to the tender consciences of our brethren within the pale.
“This,” as you justly observe, “would probably occasion some trouble and
difficulty,” {34b} not that this ought to be objected if the charitable
object could be effected by any _reasonable_ sacrifice.  You admit that
already “more is proposed that is either necessary or desirable.” {34c}
The Bishop of London {34d} “would not be disposed to go as far as you,”
whilst some perhaps with the modesty of old _Richard Baxter_, might
propose to put the unclean thing away altogether, and to substitute a new
and much improved Liturgy of their own.  Let us once open the commission,
institute this Court of Relief for tender consciences, and we shall have
no lack of appellants.

    Utor permisso—caudœque pilos ut equinæ,
    Paulatim vello—demo unum, demo etiam unum,
    Dum cadat elusus ratione ruentis acervi. {36a}

The difficulties of the subject seem to be confessed by all, except it
may be by the _Brothers Hull_, who seem to see none or very few.  But the
Bishop of Norwich observes, “_I agree that there are what to some may be
deemed almost insuperable difficulties in the way of any change in the
Liturgy_, _and perhaps in the Articles_.”  Nor would these difficulties
seem to be lessened, if his Lordship’s view of the present state of the
Church be correct, it being his opinion “that there never was a period
perhaps of our Church History with so little harmony within the pale, and
so fearful a prospect of fiercer and wider dissention.” {36b}  “There is
a lion in the way”—and for my own part I am craven enough to say there
let him lie—_couchant_ he is likely to be less troublesome than
_rampant_.  And the better part of valour is discretion.

And as his Lordship tells us that “he believes the Clergy as a body would
not consent to any change” in the Liturgy.  We may infer that that
absence of harmony to which his Lordship alludes, from whatever other
causes it may arise, originates in no want of unanimity in the Church on
the score of _Subscription_, and that there would seem but little
necessity, for the sake of _peace_, to embark upon the dangerous
experiment of a revision.

It being then admitted that “the Clergy as a body would not consent to
any change in the Liturgy or Articles,” we must presume that they can
_unreservedly_ make the Subscription in its present form.  And putting
aside your own peculiar case, we must also presume of those persons who
recently petitioned parliament, in the character of Clergymen of the
Church of England, that although they might think some _Expansion_ of
Subscription desirable, in consideration to others, did nevertheless make
their own with a safe conscience and with the honest intention of
fulfilling their engagements, by a general conformity to the prescribed
Services of our Church.  They subscribed, we must presume, with no _such
latitude_ of _opinion_ as would admit of an habitual _deviation_ from,
either by alteration or a summary omission, of such parts of our
Services, as they could not satisfactorily reconcile with their own
private opinions.  _Mr. Maty_, a former seceder from our establishment,
could not consider such a latitude of the construction of his
Subscription compatible with his honesty.  In a letter to _Mr. Lindsey_,
he says, “finally, I can neither submit to acquiesce in silence, after
having made my objections known, nor take upon me to alter the Service of
the Church as long as I continue to profess myself a minister of it.”

Properly appreciating this sentiment, we must conclude that the Bishop of
Norwich understood the prayer of the petitioners with no reference to
such a practice as _Mr. Maty_ here condemns, when he represented them as
praying “that that which is consented to and allowed privately, may be
the avowed and acknowledged sentiments of the Church at large.”  Yet in
their “explanation of the statements of the petition,” and the object
which _they_ had in view, the _Messrs. Hull_, enumerate amongst these
deviations from the authorized forms and positive obligations of _the
Church_, _sanctioned_ as they assert _by general practice_; the omission
of the Athanasian Creed, the change or omission of certain sentences in
the Burial Service, and the substitution of other lessons than those
appointed by the Church.  Now I must think, that if a complaint were
preferred against a Clergyman to his Diocesan for _habitually_ and
advisedly deviating thus from his _positive obligations_, the
complainants would scarcely be told that such things were _consented to
and allowed privately by the Church_.  If so, for consistency’s sake it
might be as well to expunge in future from the Churchwardens’ Articles of
Enquiry exhibited at Episcopal Visitations, any such query as the
following, “Doth the Incumbent or Curate regularly read service with the
Litany and Creeds, exactly according to the Rubric of the Book of Common
Prayer, without omission, addition, or alteration?” {38}

_You_ represent the petitioners “as having presented to parliament the
sound and reasonable prayer, _that the law and the practice should be
assimilated_.”  You mean, I presume, that some regard should be had to
the nature of the thing _practised_, otherwise I must think your
principle a very _unsound_ one.  For instance, it is to be feared that a
habit prevails sadly too much amongst both high and low, of neglecting
the observance of the sabbath day and keeping it anything but holy.  But
I would not therefore assimilate the _law_ to this practice and go to
parliament for an act to legalize sabbath breaking.  And even in respect
to the prayer of the petitioners, I should say that the Archbishop’s
proposition that steps should be taken to assimilate the _practice_ to
the _law_, was the sounder one of the two.

But the _Messrs. Hull_ in _their_ view of the matter, represent the
Bishop of Norwich—“as pleading strongly for that privilege which should
be conceded to every ingenuous mind, to mean what it says, and to say
what it means.”  A form of Subscription such as would admit of every one
saying what he means, seems to have been the view which the Bishop of
London took of the object of the petitioners, and called it very
truly,—“expansion with a vengeance.”

But you would make us, by our present Subscription, say much more than we
mean, and mean much more than we say, for instance, you would contend
that we declare by Subscription, “that every word of the _Homilies_, is
_agreeable_ to the word of God,” the laity, you say “_feel_ not what it
is to subscribe _literally_ to _every word_ of the _Homilies_, Rites, and
Ceremonies,” {39a} and again, “if a Subscription to _the Liturgy_ as
_agreeable_ to the word of God is still maintained to be indispensable,”
{39b} and further, the petition states, that the Clergy are “commonly
understood to be _bound_ to the observance of _all the Canons_.” {39c}
Now, I cannot think that you give quite a correct view of Subscription.
Amongst your illustrations, you say, “our Subscription _literally_ taken
calls upon a person to declare that the delivery of a marriage ring and
the Apostles’ Creed are equally _agreeable_ to scripture!” {40}  But the
very _letter_ of our Subscription is opposed to this view of it.—We know
of nothing in scripture agreeable to or agreeing with any part of our
marriage ceremony, unless it be a supper; neither have we any “scripture
warrant” for our custom of kneeling when receiving the sacrament, none
for signing with the sign of the cross, no _direct_ warrant baptizing
infants, in short, _literally_ we do _not_ subscribe to _the Liturgy_ as
being _agreeable_ to the word of God, but containing nothing _contrary_
to it.

Neither do we “subscribe _literally_ and to every word of the Homilies”
as being agreeable to the word of God.  I could produce you many a quaint
passage from their exhortations, to which we should be puzzled to find
anything agreeable in scripture, though nothing perhaps contrary to the
spirit of them.

And as to the Canons, so far from feeling ourselves _bound_ to a
_voluntary_ observance of them all, I have no recollection of pledging
myself by any Subscription at my ordination to the observance of any of
them.  “As to the Canons,” says _Archdeacon Sharpe_, “to which we are
_not bound by any formal promise_, but only by virtue of their own
authority.  I believe no one will say that we are bound to pay obedience
to them all, according to the letter of them.”  Say then, that there are
amongst them some, which as the petitioners allege “could not in these
days be acted upon,” if so, they are the less likely to cause them any
grievance.  And as to the alleged inexpediency of acting upon others, let
us leave that to be judged of by our superiors, whom we are bound to
obey, at least so I understood my ordination vows.  But our objection to
a revision of our Laws Ecclesiastical arises from no over-weaning
affection for these inoperative canons, but from a desire rather to

    “ . . . bear the ills we have
    Than fly to others, that we know not of.”

But to the observance of the Rubric, we are unquestionably pledged.  And
it is preferred by the _Messrs. Hull_, “as a charge against the
Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London, that at their
ordination they pledged themselves to observe the Rubric, and so to
confirm in a given way.  But they do not confirm in that way, and do
confirm in another,” _ergo valet consequentia_.  But, after mentioning in
the strongest terms our obligations to a strict observance of the Rubric,
_Archdeacon Sharpe_ says, “this indeed we must always take along with us,
that our obligations to observe the Rubric, how indispensable soever, are
subject to this _proviso_—namely, that the thing prescribed _be a thing
practicable_.”  And as the _Messrs. Hull_ admit that “the Bishops from
the multitudes of candidates, _could not_ confirm according to the
Rubric,” we will leave the Bishops to settle this matter with their own
consciences, believing that their characters are not so far compromised
by the deviation, as to render it imperative upon them, to plunge at all
hazards into a revision.

Our Articles were agreed upon, as you observe, “for avoiding diversities
of opinions, and for the stablishing consent touching true religion.”  In
accomplishing this, you seem to think that they have signally failed.  In
those cases, however, where the Article has advisedly been drawn up for
the purpose of admitting men holding certain differences of opinion on
the general doctrine contained in it, the contemplated result can
scarcely be looked upon as indicative of any failure of the object.  But
I cannot see that the existence of one evil in a system, if the extent to
which this latitude goes _be_ one, which I do not admit, is a sound
argument for the bringing in of many more.  “If,” says _Dr. Randolph_,
“the best method we can think of to avoid diversities of opinion and
establish consent touching true religion, has through the perverseness
and corruption of mankind a contrary effect, surely not we, but these
hypocrites, are to blame.  But we cannot think it a good reason for
throwing down all the fences of our vineyard, because some wild boars
will sometimes break through them.” {42}  It appears, however, that _you_
would only leave a few gaps in the fence, the thirty-nine Articles you
would abolish at one fell swoop, and from the passing of your proposed
BILL for the consolidating the laws of religious tests, or Subscriptions,
&c. “you would have it enacted, that nothing be required but assent to
the doctrines set forth in the three Creeds, as agreeable to scripture;
assent to the truth of the scriptures themselves; and that they contain
all things necessary to salvation.”

I perceive, however, that you would still have a “declaration of
conformity to the Liturgy of the Church of England, as it is _now_ by law
established.”—By _now_, I presume you are speaking of the Liturgy, as it
shall be set forth _hereafter_, when every pebble of offence shall be
taken away, and “every cause of uneasiness removed.”  But _hic labor_,
_hoc opus est_—take for instance the Athanasian Creed, you might be
contented with the proposition of 1689 respecting it; but your brother
petitioners the _Messrs. Hull_ exclaim, “let Subscription henceforward
apply to a Prayer Book which _does not contain_ the Athanasian Creed.”
{43a}  Now, if this “_erroris expulsio_,” as it has been termed, was
considered indispensable to the exclusion of the Arian “wolves,” even
_after_ the imposition of the Nicene Creed,—are these wolves
exterminated?  Or is their nature so changed that they would harmlessly
lie down with the lambs of our fold, were it not for those invidious
fences that prevent their approach, nor seduce them from the fold, even
were it fenceless?  But, argue the _Messrs. Hull_, fences are of no use,
for a wolf once upon a time got through one, meaning _Bishop Hoadley_.
But they forget that like that treacherous one we read of in the nursery
legend, the “Little Red Riding Hood,”—he disguised himself to effect his
purpose.  We have lately read of a chimney sweeper insinuating himself
into her Majesty’s private apartments, but we have not heard in
consequence of the abolition of the police force.

But let it be admitted that our Liturgy, “that admirable book, next to
the bible, the treasure and glory and safeguard of our reformed Church,”
{43b} is not faultless; still, who when he looks upon the heterogeneous
mass of so called improvements that have been already suggested, would
not exclaim—“Let us but have our Liturgy continued to us as it is, until
the men are born who shall be able to mend it or make it better, and we
desire no greater security against either altering this or introducing
another.” {43c}

But as the subsidence of the _dissidia mutuasque suspiciones_, is a
consummation more devoutly to be wished, than, I fear, _in these times_,
to be looked for; I will in conclusion make a few observations in defence
of the Subscription of the Clergy generally, to those _three points_
which you esteem so “indefensible;” but as my observations have already
extended far beyond the limit I had contemplated, I must of necessity, be
more brief than I could wish, or than justice to such subjects might seem
to require—and first of the _Athanasian Creed_.

“Full of information,” as _Hooker_ observes, “concerning that faith which
_Arianism_ did so mightily impugn, and which was both in the _east_ and
_west_ Churches accepted as a treasure of inestimable price, by as many
as had not given up even the very ghost of belief.” {44a}

But my Diocesan tells me, that “_literally_ understood this Creed makes
no distinctions, no contingencies, but unconditionally and unequivocally
asserts that all who receive it not, are doomed to irretrievable
perdition.” {44b}  God forbid!  But if it be so, _literally_ the Saviour
of mankind has pronounced the same uncontingent, undistinguishing,
unequivocal doom, upon all who believe not the _gospel_.  “_He_ that
believeth not shall be damned, {44c} _whosoever_ believeth on him shall
not _perish_, but have everlasting life,” {44d} the converse is,
_whosoever_ believeth _not_ shall perish everlastingly; for “he that
believeth not shall not see _life_, but the _wrath of God abideth on
him_, {44e} they _all_ shall be damned, who believe not THE truth.” {44f}

But we cannot bring ourselves to think that it can consist with the
goodness of Him “whose tender mercies are over all His works,” to doom to
“irretrievable perdition,” _millions_ of His creatures for the
non-performance of an _impossibility_.  We consequently limit this awful
sentence against those who “love unrighteousness,” and wilfully reject
the _offer_ of salvation.  The context forces us to this application of
the anathema.  But I am not asking in what sense we are to _understand_
the threat of scripture, but applying to it the same reasoning through
which the Athanasian Creed is attacked; and I assert that _literally_
understood, the texts which I have quoted, as undistinguishingly doom to
perdition _all_ who do not believe the gospel, as does the Athanasian
Creed all who do not hold the Catholic Faith.

But if we are to ascertain the sense of scripture by comparing it with
scripture, the text with the context, why are we to be debarred from
ascertaining the sense and meaning of our Church formularies, by the
application of the same canon of interpretation?  Why are so invidious
objections to be conjured up and bruited abroad against our Church, by
tying us down to the _letter_ of her forms, to the utter disregard of
their meaning, and the spirit in which they have been imposed?  I cannot
express my own view of these monitory clauses, better than in the
language of a contemporary divine, “their connection and relative force
is this: whosoever desires to be saved it is necessary that he hold the
Catholic Faith, and if he who has this faith keep it not, for he cannot
keep it except he has first had it or held it, he cannot be saved, but
without doubt shall perish everlastingly.  The warning, therefore, is
directed to him only who keeps not the faith which he has been taught,
which has been put into his hands, which he has had hold of.” {45}

But my Diocesan affirms, and although it is your own opinion also, I take
the liberty of canvassing it in his Lordship’s statement, feeling that
the sentiments of the Spiritual Head of the Church in this Diocese, must
carry with them even greater weight than your own.  His Lordship says,
“granting (though the Creed makes no such concession) that five hundred
millions and upwards of Pagans and Heathens, out of eight hundred
millions inhabitants of our globe, are not meant to be included in this
sweeping anathema, it should be remembered that the whole Greek Church,
professed Christians as they are, must of necessity be included, as its
members after mature consideration are at variance with other Churches
respecting the procession of the Holy Ghost.” {46a}  As a point of
_doctrine_ I am much disposed to question the “mature consideration,” I
should rather impute the schism to the imperious and unbending
dispositions of the respective parties, the _Patriarch_ versus the
_Pontiff_.  But be that as it may,—I would exonerate our Church from the
odium of gratuitously condemning to irretrievable perdition, those who in
_her own opinion_ substantially differ nothing from her in this respect,
but do keep undefiled the Catholic Faith.

“They do not,” says _Archbishop Bramhall_, “add the word _filioque_ to
the Creed, and yet they acknowledge that the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of
the Son, which is the very same thing in sense.” {46b}  And again—“_Peter
Lombard_, _Thomas à Jesu_, _Cardinal Tolet_, and many others, do make the
question about the procession of the Holy Ghost to be verbal only,
without reality, and that the Grecian expressions of _Spiritus Filii_ and
_per __Filium_, do signify as much as our _Filioque_.” {47a}  _Bishop
Pearson_, _Bishop Beveridge_, _Dr. Waterland_, and many others of our own
divines are of the same opinion.

In explication of the doctrine of the Personality of the Holy Ghost, the
Athanasian Creed says—“the Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son,”
the Greek Church holds that which as _Bishop Pearson_ says, plainly
contains this truth, that the Spirit is _of_ God the Father, and _of_ God
the Son.  The Creed says, “neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but
proceeding,” and beyond a _procession_, distinguishing Him from the
Father and the Son, but whether this procession be_ temporal_, _eternal_,
or both—whether from the Father _and_ the Son, or from the Father only,
the Creed _determines_ nothing—and the distinguishing property ascribed
by the Greek Church to the Holy Ghost, is a _procession_, _Εκπορενσις_.
{47b}  “The Greek Church,” says _Dr. Bennet_, “does unanimously maintain
the _temporal_ procession of the Holy Ghost, from _both_ the Father and
the Son.  And since this Creed may be understood in that sense, therefore
in the use of it we do _necessarily_ declare no more than what the Greek
Church does as cordially profess and contend for as ourselves.”

“Though the distinction,” says the same writer, “was so well known to all
our Reformers in this nation, yet their prudence and moderation would not
suffer them to take notice of it in any public and authentic manner.
They would not recede from _Rome_ any further than was necessary, upon
the account of the _Roman_ corruptions, and therefore they did not reject
the _filioque_ from the _Nicene_ Creed or the Creed of _St. Athanasius_,
nor did they declare themselves against the _Greek_ Church by adding any
such term, as must necessarily determine in what sense they understood
the _procession_.” {48a}  _Literally_ taken, therefore, the Greek Church
is _not of necessity_ included in this sweeping anathema, and as his
Lordship states it, “excluded from the merits of the Redeemer’s death
hereafter,” any more than five hundred millions of Heathens are condemned
to irretrievable perdition by the _literal_ acceptation of Mark xvi. 16.

To affirm the necessity of the Catholic Faith to salvation, is simply to
say what our Lord himself says, in the above text.  To affirm that he who
_having had_ the Catholic Faith _rejects_ it, is to say no more than is
said, Heb. vi. 4, Luke ix. 62, Matt x. 13, and 2 Peter ii. 21, with many
other like places.

It would appear then from page 51 of your pamphlet, that we differ
nothing in our application of these clauses; the only difference between
us is, that taking this view of it, I can _unreservedly_ make my
Subscription, and conscientiously hold with our eighth Article, that this
Creed “_ought thoroughly to be received and believed_.”  But if in my
conscience I believed that such an application of them was untenable, I
confess I could not so easily lay aside my scruples, as it would appear
you were ready to do, provided you could obtain the “sanction of the
opinion of the Archbishop of Canterbury,” an opinion which being not _ex
cathedra_, but private and personal, his Grace would not permit you to
consider as “of greater value than that of any other _individual_, who
may possess in an equal degree the qualifications of a competent judge in
such a matter.” {48b}

But you ask “whether when we read Mark xvi. 16, we can find in that awful
threat against those who do not receive the GOSPEL, a sanction for the
even more appalling threat contained in the Creed.” {49a}  In what sense
it is more appalling you have left us to discover.  But by this
observation, you would seem to aim at some distinction between not
receiving the _Gospel_ and rejecting the “very essentials of

“The Creed,” you say, “consists of a series of propositions deduced by
fallible man.”  This of necessity would be the case, since _the truth_
was by the wisdom of God committed to the keeping of fallible man, and
with it, the command to “take heed to THE doctrine.”  But the question is
are they correct deductions from the _infallible_ word of God?  You admit
that they are, all “must admire,” you say, “the extraordinary subtlety
and acuteness with which _erroneous theories_ are rejected, and _the
correct deductions from scripture_ are maintained,” {49b} and again “the
matters treated of in this Creed are of such _fundamental_ importance and
so including the _very essentials of Christianity_.” {49c}  If so, if the
deductions be _scriptural_, the spirit of the clauses cannot be
otherwise, for “_he_ that believeth not shall be damned,” and I presume
that by believing you would contend for the necessity of a _sound_
faith—“the truth as it is in Jesus.”

“You are not,” you say, “so feverishly sensitive as many good men of our
Church as to Trinitarian definitions, esteeming a lively ‘faith working
by love,’ the grand desideratum of the gospel,” {49d} and so no doubt in
a right sense it is.  But _South_ draws a distinction between a lively
and a _living_ faith, “our faith must not only be _living_ but _lively_
too.”  Admitting this distinction, how far behind you does the Unitarian
(or rather _Humanitarian_, if sects would but assume their most
appropriate designation), fall in the profession of a like faith?  He
holds after a fashion, St. Paul’s “word of faith,” Rom. x. 9, and in
works of kindness to his fellow creatures and _morality_, falls nothing
behind the most orthodox Trinitarian.  In this sense his faith is lively,
and _artlessness_ and _simplicity_ are the boasted characteristics of his
Creed.  He “confesses with his mouth the Lord Jesus”—but then it is that
he “was a man constituted in all respects like other men, subject to the
same infirmities, the same _ignorance_, _prejudices_, and _frailties_,
that he suffered death, not to appease the wrath of God, not as a
_satisfaction_ to divine justice, not to exhibit the evil of sin, nor in
_any sense whatever to make atonement to God_ for it; for this doctrine,
_in every sense_, and according to every explanation they explode as
_irrational_, _unscriptural_, and _derogatory from the divine
perfections_, but as a _martyr to the truth_, and _as a necessary
preliminary to his resurrection_.” {50}  They confess Jesus with the
mouth, but they deny the _gospel of Jesus Christ our Redeemer_.  And is
this believing to the saving of the soul? is this a “confession unto
salvation?”  Is this THE doctrine?  But the rulers of Christ’s Church are
to charge some that they teach _no other_ doctrine, than the doctrine
which is according to godliness, and great is the _mystery_ of godliness.
They are to rebuke sharply that men be _sound_ in the faith.  We must in
short teach the truth _as it is in Jesus_,—THE faith and not A faith; and
woe to us if from any mistaken notions of Christian charity, of that
charity which “rejoiceth in the truth,” we hesitate to declare that to
reject “the very essentials of Christianity,” is a “drawing back unto
perdition.”  At the same time when in the fulfilment of our bounden duty,
our positive obligations, we declare the threat of scripture, for we
declare no more, we might hope at all events from those whose every
sentiment would seem to breathe of Christian benevolence, to have credit
for declaring it in the spirit of that charity which “_hopeth all

Of the _form of absolution_ in the Service for Visiting the Sick, you
say, “no small harm is done to our reputation by sanctioning that which
in plain honest language cannot be defended.” {51a}

The Roman Catholic will tell you that you cannot in plain honest language
defend any construction of the words “this _is my body_,” but their own.
You put, however, a different construction upon them, and with no harm
done to your reputation.

The Bishop of Norwich says of this form, “I have heard many Clergymen
express the pain they felt in uttering it, shrinking, as conscientious
minds ever must, from the assumption of a power of so awful a character,
while others from equally conscientious motives, abstain altogether from
pronouncing it.” {51b}

I hope I do not misapprehend his Lordship; but the impression of his
opinion left on my mind by this passage, is, that no _conscientious mind_
can comply with our ordination vows but with _pain_ to itself.  With what
pain and reluctance then must his Lordship cause these solemn vows to be
administered, and trusting that they are _conscientiously_ made, how from
_conscientious_ motives a man can abstain from the observance of them, I
confess I cannot clearly see.  Nor, can I think it quite just to the
great body of his Clergy to take a _weak_ conscience as the standard by
which to measure the integrity of, perhaps, a better informed one.

But if his Lordship _so_ construes our formularies, as implying an
assumption on the part of the _Minister_, of a power, the arrogating of
which can fall nothing short of blasphemy, namely, that “unless we as
Ministers of the Church, ‘do forgive’ and ‘absolve,’ the sins of a dying
man must descend with him to the grave, with all their fearful pressure;
and _that if we choose to retain them_, _he cannot escape their
consequences_,” {52a}—in other words, assuming a power like the false
Prophets of old, “to slay the souls that should not die, and save the
souls alive that should not live,” {52b}—if such be his Lordship’s view
of our forms, a man need not be gifted with an over-sensitive conscience
to shudder at the arrogance, the use of them must involve.

Yet in such a sense, his Lordship would seem to say, that our Church’s
absolution was viewed and “believed by many of our earliest Reformers.”
Let us then try the Service in question, not by its _iotas_, but by its
obvious sense and meaning.  Let it be made its own interpreter, and we
must at once be convinced that such was not the spirit in which it was
imposed by our Reformers, that they contemplated no such construction of
its words, as that of implying a power, of “loosing of the debt of
eternal death,”—or as _Bishop Burnet_ says, to “_pardon_ with relation to

For if so, why remind the sick person, that “after this life there is an
account to be given to the righteous Judge, by whom all must be judged
without respect of persons.” {53a}  Does the form objected to imply any
such arrogant assumption on the part of the Minister?  On the contrary,
is not the commencement of it _precatory_? to the effect that _Christ_,
not the _Priest_, “would of his great mercy _forgive_ the penitent his
offences.”  Does the Priest pronounce the absolution in his own name?  On
the contrary, he pronounces it in the name of Him who sent him to declare
the forgiveness of sins.  Does he declare it on any other than the
_gospel terms_?  He declares it only to those who “truly repent and
believe in Christ.”  But can he see the heart?  How then can it be
supposed that he should himself believe, or what danger is incurred of
deceiving the dying person into the fond hope, that he shall, in virtue
of the Priest’s absolution, be clear when he is judged hereafter?  Or if
for a moment, the dying person had so deceived himself, must not the
delusion be dissipated, on hearing the Minister _after_ he had pronounced
his _absolution_, put up to the throne of mercy that earnest and
affecting petition, in behalf of him “who most _earnestly desireth_
pardon and forgiveness”—but to what purpose, if he believed that he had
but the moment before forgiven him? what can be more utterly at variance
than this prayer, with the imputed arrogance of the form of absolution?
“The truth is, that in the Priest’s absolution, there is the true power
and virtue of forgiveness which will most certainly take effect—_nisi
ponitur obex_—as in Baptism.” {53b}

“But who,” you ask, “shall venture to put these words into the mouth of
fallible men, and authorize them _in any sense_ to apply them.” {54a}

“You believe us,” you say, “to be in the fullest sense ambassadors of
Christ, charged with a message of reconciliation.” {54b}  But say that
you were delivering this message at the bed of a dying person, and he
replied to it, yes sir, so I read in my bible.  How would you lead him to
believe that your ambassadorial declaration of his forgiveness, was
likely to be of more avail to him, than his reading the message for
himself?  “Sin,” says _Hooker_, “is not helped unless it be _assured_ of
pardon.” {54c}  But what assurance can you give the penitent, beyond that
he can read for himself, unless you have _authority_ to declare his
pardon in virtue of your official character?  If it be not so, the
distribution of the bible may be considered as having in a great measure
superseded the further necessity of a _Christian Ministry_, and rendered
our Saviour’s institutions of none effect.

“But why,” you ask, “_assume_ to execute our commission in terms which
under any construction are presumptuous.”  Under their _proper
construction_ I would submit that they argue no assumption or presumption

Let us say that you had recently been sent out as “an ambassador in the
fullest sense,” to Canada, in pardoning the rebels in accordance with
your instructions, and a compliance on their parts with the terms, should
you have deemed it a distinction involving any important difference,
implicating you in an act of presumption, or derogating any thing from
the prerogative of your sovereign,—had you said, _I_ remit you your
outlawry, and absolve you from all your offences.

But I should much question, supposing the rebels had by some means
possessed themselves of your instructions, and having ascertained from
them the terms on which pardon was offered to them, whether they would
have considered reading this document to each other, the same thing as
having the gracious message of pardon delivered to them on _authority_.
The former is the principle of sectarism.  But if you believe that there
is any virtue in your office, if you believe that you are empowered to
declare the message of reconciliation with more effect than a layman,
define your position with regard to your heavenly Master, assert your
delegated authority, that of being in the “fullest sense an ambassador of
Christ;” prove that it means something, or give up your claim to an empty
title.  If there is nothing analogous in the office, why assume to be an
ambassador? or why should the Apostles have led us to infer a delegated
power, by declaring themselves to be ambassadors, ministers of the
gospel, and stewards of the mysteries of God?

But for a weak and fallible man to assume a power in any sense, to remit
or retain the sins of another, how shall we divest such a notion of
presumption, or reconcile it with the enlightened and enquiring spirit of
the nineteenth century?

We are baptized, as I have always understood, for _the remission of
sins_.  Say then, that a person desired baptism at your hands, but that
on examination you thought you had found him wanting in the necessary
qualifications, that he had not faith.  Would you baptize him?  But if
part of the grace of Baptism be the _remission of sins past_, by
withholding from him the sacramental means whereby they are remitted, do
you not _retain_ them?  And under such circumstances, would not the
virtue of your commission—the “power of the keys,” be brought home to
you?  And considering the life-giving effect of Baptism, if you are
tempted to measure God’s ways by our ways, must it not strike you as the
very height of presumption, to say as you do—_I baptize thee_?  But as
the remission of sins is a result of Baptism, and as we have not
according to the old puritanical objection, any “scripture warrant” for
the words with which we administer that mystery, would it argue greater
presumption to say in words that _mean no more_, “_I absolve_ thee of all
thy past offences?”  The Greek Church seems to have viewed the matter in
this light, for as we learn from _Bingham_, they perform the rite in the
_optative form_.  “_Baptizetur servus Christi in nomine Patris_,
_&c._—let the servant of Christ be baptized, &c.” {56}

But say, that you had mistaken the thoughts of the heart of the would be
convert, would not “the tremendous responsibility” of which his Lordship
speaks be neutralized as it respected both the convert and yourself, by
the comforting consideration that there is an after appeal to One that
judgeth righteously, at whose tribunal the act or sentence of His
official on earth will be reversed, if pronounced in error, but
everlastingly confirmed if otherwise?  Is absolution therefore a matter
of indifference?  Why then was the Christian ministry ordained, and its
authority sealed by the assurance of its divine Founder,—“he that
despiseth you despiseth me, and he that despiseth me despiseth Him that
sent me?”

Your third objection lies against the words, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost,”
as they are used in our Ordination Service.

The old cavil, as it is mentioned by _Hooker_, was “The Holy Ghost we
cannot give, and therefore we foolishly bid men receive it.” {57a}

Your objection to the use of these words would seem to be, that in their
literal sense they imply a power of commanding his gifts.  But surely
there is a wide distinction between the _dispenser_ of a spiritual gift,
and the _giver_ of it.  “God,” says _Jeremy Taylor_, “is the fountain of
the power, man conveys it by an external rite . . .  God is the
consecrator, man is the minister; the separation is _mysterious_ and
wonderful, the power great and secret.” {57b}

Now, if a Bishop really believes that the _Imposition of Hands_ is a
divinely instituted rite, the means ordained by inspiration of Christ,
and used by his Apostles, whereby the gift of the Holy Ghost is conveyed
and received, for the ministration of the mysteries of the gospel
dispensation:—if he believe that he is a minister of the Spirit, an
apostolically appointed steward of these mysteries, I can see nothing
“foolish,” nothing presumptuous in his saying at the very moment that he
believes that he is _dispensing_ the gift—“Receive ye the Holy Ghost for
the office and work of a Priest in the Church of God, now committed unto
you by the Imposition of our Hands.”  It would, at least, tend to show
that he had _faith_ in the efficacy of his ministration.  But to imitate
the significant act of our Saviour and his Apostles, ever performed by
them with a specific object, and ever resulting in a _blessing_, in the
communication of some _spiritual gift_, to have recourse to the sign,
with _no faith_ in the thing signified, esteeming it but a barren
ceremony,—would seem to me to be but little short of an “indefensible”
mockery of an external rite, hallowed to spiritual purposes by the
authority of inspiration.

If you can believe in the _mystery_ of the sacraments, if you can believe
that “the bread which we break, the cup of blessing which we bless,” do,
by the prayer and solemn invocation of the Priest, become, in some
inexplicable and mysterious manner, the “Communion of the body and blood
of Christ, which are verily and indeed taken and received by the faithful
in the Lord’s Supper:” if, in _this faith_, you hesitate not to give the
consecrated elements to the communicants, manifesting the signification
of the rite, by the words, the “body and blood of Christ, take,
eat—drink:”—I can see but little reason why you should stumble, at the
not more mysterious communication of the spiritual gift for the office
ministerial, by the Imposition of Hands.  They are mysteries; but the
whole gospel dispensation is a mystery:—we must become as “little
children” or we cannot receive them—for no sooner do we grow _wise_
enough to ask “how these things can be,” than we are certain to reject
them as “foolishness.”  Some boldly, like the Socinian, as requiring a
“prostration of intellect,” too humiliating to be submitted to—others
hiding from themselves their want of faith, under the garb of humility,
under which garb, I wish, that frequently something more of rationalism
may not lurk, than its wearer would either willingly suspect or

But you request the Archbishop of Canterbury, “that it may be allowed by
his Grace’s authority or sanctioned by his opinion, that in this form,
all that relates to the gift of the Spirit” (the _ministration_ of it
rather, since the Bishop is not the fountain of the power—not the
_giver_), “may be considered precatory.” {59a}—_Precatory_!—“the great
mysteries of our religion are _all_ by way of solemn prayer.”  “The form
of words,” says _Jeremy Taylor_, “doth not alter the case, for _Ego
benedico_, and _Deus benedicat_ is the same, and was _no more_, when God
commanded the Priest in express terms to _bless the people_.” {59b}

But what is there in the words, “receive ye the Holy Ghost,” to prevent
your taking them in the sense which would seem “to suit your own views?”

You take, I doubt not the form, in which the bread and wine in the
sacrament are administered in a precatory sense.—“The body of our Lord
Jesus Christ which was given for thee, preserve thy body,” &c.—but in the
absence of any auxiliary verb, you must imply the precatory sense—you
might mentally substitute _shall_ or _will_, for _may_, for anything that
there is in the form itself to prevent you.

But you object also to the words as being an innovation, and contend that
the use of them was unknown in the purer ages of Christianity.  This,
however, you must permit me to say, you have signally failed in your
attempt to prove.  The authorities you adduce, are those of _Morinus_ and
_Bishop Burnet_.  On these authorities “you hope to make it appear beyond
all doubt that no such form of ordination was ever thought of, nor any
resembling it for eleven centuries after the publication of
Christianity.” {59c}  “Prayer and the Imposition of Hands, were the only
rites we find practised by the Apostles,” says the Bishop.  But they were
two distinct rites: “when they _had_ prayed, they laid their hands on
them.” {60a}  But they have left us no form of prayer used by them upon
the occasion—how then do we know what form they used?  And are we to
suppose that the _Imposition of Hands_ was given in silence,
unaccompanied by any words to indicate its signification to the person
ordained, or to the faithful who were present?  But nothing is left on
record.  How then can you undertake to say that they used not, as they
most probably would, the very form of the primitive commission?  Christ
was designated for his ministry by the visible descent of the Holy Ghost,
and by an efflux of the Spirit: He, having received the gift without
measure, in like manner designated his Apostles for theirs—“_As_ my
Father hath sent me, even _so_ send I you”—Receive ye the Holy Ghost.
And there can be no doubt, that the Apostles in ordaining others, would
declare both by word and deed: “_As_ Christ hath sent us, _so_ send we
you.”  “Stir up the gift of God that is in you by the putting on of my
hands.” {60b}

But _Morinus_ is to set this question at rest.  “His authority must, you
suppose, be considered conclusive on this point.” {60c}  But to what does
it amount?  His collected MS. forms of Ordination take you back to about
the middle of the eighth century; and these you adduce as conclusive
evidence of the practice of the _primitive_ Church.  Now admitting, as in
candour we must, that his earliest authority is a proof of still earlier
usage,—still, as to any evidence of the _practice_ of the _primitive_
Church, he leaves you with a yawning and somewhat unmanageable _hiatus_
upon your hands.

Could no written summary of the Christian faith, or any traces of such
summary be discovered, anterior to the date of that of Nice; you would
hardly argue that for the three preceding centuries the Church had always
used the _Nicene Creed_:—the inference would be that no human explication
of the “word of faith,” had been found necessary:—and in like manner, the
absence of any proof to the contrary, affords a strong presumption, that
the _primitive_ Church had adhered to the use of the words of the
_primitive_ commission.  At all events, before you undertake to inform us
what form was _not_ used in the ordinations of the primitive Church; it
is incumbent on you to show what form it _did_ use.—“But,” says
_Bingham_, whom you quote thus far,—“the solemnity in giving superior
orders, was always performed by the Imposition of Hands and prayer.”
This has never been disputed, but he also observes—“It is not to be
imagined that one and the same form was used in all Churches, for every
Bishop having liberty to frame his own Liturgy, as there were different
Liturgies in different Churches, so it is reasonable to suppose the
Primates or Metropolitans had different forms of consecration, though
there are now no remains of them in being, to give us any further
information.” {61a}

Throwing you in two centuries and a half beyond your earliest authority,
I dare not attempt with _Bishop Burnet_ and yourself to jump the
remaining hiatus, with any hope of reaching your conclusion,—“that if we
ask of the antient time what is best, and of the latter time what is
fittest, some alteration of the form of ordination is both proper and
expedient.” {61b}

Our compilers thought it both “best and fittest” to adhere to the words
of the primitive commission, nor attempt to define the mystery, or
enquire “how can these things be:”—and they would probably have replied
to the modern cavils in the spirit of _Hooker’s_ observation—“Seeing
therefore that the same power is now given, why should the same form of
words expressing it, be thought foolish?” {62a}

To this form of words the Clergy do _literally_ and _ex animo_ subscribe,
and notwithstanding your objections, I trust without impeachment either
of their _truth_ or _honesty_.

In a note to your Sermon published in 1838, speaking of “controversial
publications by Clergymen in defence of our Church,” you observe, “the
occupation is in most cases neither happy nor improving.”

Ought not such a consideration to have withheld you from challenging your
brother to take so questionable a course as you consider its defence, by
publishing such opinions of the Subscription required and made by the
Clergy, as must, if correct, involve them in the suspicion of being
either ignorant of its meaning, indifferent to its obligations, or
insincere in their acceptance of them?—warning them at one time against
the unhappy occupation of self-defence, and leading your readers at
another, to draw an inference to their prejudice, from their silence; for
you say with reference to “your objections, no attempt at a refutation of
them has appeared, so far as you know, from any quarter,” {62b} and
further, that our Diocesan’s pamphlet, in “defence” of his speech on
Subscription, so strongly corroborative of your own objections “remains
unanswered.” {62c}

I must, therefore, request of you to share any blame that may attach to
us, in consequence of the courses, _offensive_ and _defensive_, which we
have respectively taken in this matter.

I am fully conscious of the very questionable position in which it places
me, as one of his subordinate Clergy, with respect to my Diocesan.  And I
trust I feel it with as becoming a sense of the doubtfulness of its
propriety, as you must your own with its reference to our venerable and
universally respected Metropolitan.

But when his Lordship is informed of the alacrity with which our
opponents have availed themselves of his published opinions, to cast them
“unbated and envenomed” against the bulwarks of our Zion, I feel assured
that the well known liberality of his Lordship’s sentiments, will dispose
him to make for me every allowance.

I could have wished that the silence the Clergy have hitherto preserved,
and which has been construed to their disadvantage, had been broken by
some one better qualified than I am to do justice to the subjects I have
presumed to handle; by some one, whose name would have carried with it,
far more weight than I have the vanity to imagine can attach to my own.
Indeed, I have sometimes hesitated whether to affix it to this Letter,
but as you have shrunk from no responsibility by withholding your own,
from your published objections to our Subscription, I have felt it due to
you not to shelter myself under the irresponsibility of an anonymous
address.  In penning which, if I do not deceive myself, I may hope to
stand acquitted of having been influenced by any unfriendly feeling.  If
in any part of it my style may seem to border upon anything savouring of
discourtesy—let me hope it may be considered by you as _seeming_ only.
And should I have misapprehended your sentiments and done you thereby any

    Let my disclaiming of a purposed evil
    Free me so far in your most generous thoughts,
    That I have shot mine arrow o’er the house
    And hurt my brother.—

In which light, as a Clergyman of the Church of England, I hope long to
have the opportunity to consider you, believing as I do, that your
scruples, though the creations of a _conscientious_ mind, are more
imaginary than substantial—and with this persuasion and in that hope, I
beg to subscribe myself,

                          Very faithfully yours,

                                                           CHAS. CAMPBELL.

                                * * * * *


                        GOWING, PRINTER, SWAFFHAM.


{1}  Mr. Wodehouse’s Letter to the Bp. of Llandaff, p. 69.

{2a}  Cure of Church Div. Direct. 48, Pt. 3.

{2b}  Mr. Wodehouse, p. 50.

{3a}  p. 4.

{3b}  p. 35.

{3c}  p. 4.

{3d}  p. 35.

{5a}  p. 67.

{5b}  p. 26.

{6a}  Petition with explanations, p. 31, published 1832.

{6b}  p. 81.

{7a}  p. 30.

{7b}  p. 43.

{8}  p. 54.

{9a}  Letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, p. 63.

{9b}  p. 45.

{11}  Article 1.

{13}  p. 41.

{14a}  Petition of 1833.

{14b}  Ordination Sermon, 1838.

{15a}  Heber’s Life of Jeremy Taylor, p. cv.

{15b}  p. 82.

{15c}  p. 81.

{15d}  p. 84.

{16}  p. 4.

{19}  Epist. Ded. to Sermon on the opening of Parliament.

{21}  My readers may wish to know who the ADELPHI are to whom I have more
than once alluded.  They are the authors of a pamphlet, entitled
“Observations on a Petition, (the Petition of last Session), for the
Revision of the Liturgy, &c. written by two brothers, a Clergyman and a

These brothers, by the impetuosity of their onslaught, are said to be
distinguished amongst the petitioners as the CASTOR and POLLUX of their
little phalanx.

And as there are in their pamphlet some things which might render
questionable the logical acumen of the one, and tend to cast a shadow of
suspicion on the orthodoxy of the other—they have acquired credit for no
indifferent tact in putting forth this SIAMESE sort of production,
inasmuch as to any sentiment which might not be thought creditable to the
divine; the barrister is ready with fraternal consideration to assert his
claim,—“MEUS HIC sermo est,” and that which might not be highly esteemed
for its soundness in the learned and honourable society of Lincoln’s Inn;
the divine with reciprocal affection is at hand, to exclaim—“Adsum qui
feci”—in short, the Barrister will be responsible for the divinity, and
the Divine for the points of law.

    Diligat et semper socius te sanguinis illo
          Quo pius affectu Castora frater amat.

{22a}  p. 113.

{22b}  p. 107.

{24a}  Bishop of Norwich Pamph. p. 18.

{24b}  Sparrow’s Collection, &c. p. 12.

{25a}  Bp. of Norwich’s Pamph. p. 18.

{25b}  Hart’s Eccl. Records, p. 2.

{26a}  Burnet Pref. vol. i.

{26b}  Sparrow’s Collection, &c. p. 1.

{27a}  Bishop Jebb’s Pastoral Instructions, Disc. iii. p. 61.

{27b}  History of his Own Times, vol. ii. p. 33.

{28a}  John and W. W. Hull’s observations on the petition, p. 23.

{28b}  p. 29.

{29}  p. 17.

{31}  Bp. of Norwich’s Pamph. p. 14.

{32}  Rule of Conscience, b. iii. c. iv. r. 23.

{33}  Bp. of Norwich Pamph. p. 29.

{34a}  Barclay’s Apol. p. 27.

{34b}  p. 67.

{34c}  Petition with Expl. p. 47.

{34d}  I have introduced the name of the Bishop of London, as it gives me
an opportunity of doing fuller justice to his Lordship’s sentiments with
respect to a REVISION OF THE LITURGY than I have yet seen done them in
any of the publications in which his name has been introduced in
connection with the subject.

His Lordship admits, that since the LITURGY is a human composition, it
falls short of perfection, and is consequently “susceptible of
improvement.”  “I should be deficient in candour,” says his Lordship, “if
I did not acknowledge that I think the LITURGY susceptible of
improvement, it would be little short of a miracle were it otherwise, . . .
and I heartily pray that the time may come when the question can be
looked at with calmness and candour, and if the recent conduct of
dissenters forbids us to look forward with any sanguine hope to an
extensive comprehension of those who differ from us, that something may
be done for the satisfaction of many who are sincere and zealous members
of the Church.”—Such is the sum and substance of all that his Lordship
has admitted that may seem to favour the views of the revisers, and here
most of them have been satisfied to stop short in their quotations from
his Lordship’s charge.

From a passage in the Bishop of Norwich’s pamphlet, I should be led to
think that his Lordship had been content to take his quotation from his
brother Bishop’s charge at second hand, for after quoting the above
passages, his Lordship says, “I have only to add, that had the Right Rev.
Prelate who expressed these his deliberate sentiments in 1834, manifested
in his speech of 1840, a disposition to follow them out in their true
spirit and legitimate results, the conscientious men who signed the
Petition, might have entertained a just hope that he would have lent his
powerful aid in supporting its prayer.” {35a}

I will take up his Lordship’s charge where the Bishop of Norwich and you
have left it—

    “BUT,” says his Lordship, “when I consider the circumstances in which
    we are now placed, and the advantage which would be taken from
    different quarters, of any door which might be opened to change, I am
    led to adopt the sentiment of a pious and sagacious man, {35b}
    uttered nearly forty years ago:—‘As to our liturgy, I am far from
    thinking it incapable of amendment; though when I consider the temper
    and spirit of the present times, I dare not wish that the improvement
    of it should be attempted, lest the remedy should be worse than the
    disease.’” {35c}

Had these his Lordship’s sentiments as “deliberately expressed” as any
other part of his charge been more generally made known, I must think
that the conscientious men who signed the Petition, could have expected
nothing so little as his Lordship’s powerful aid in support of its

To these sentiments his Lordship appended a note supporting his own views
by the authority of Archbishop Secker and of Dr. Balguy.  From that note
you have quoted the well deserved terms of praise in which his Lordship
speaks of, “the candid and christian spirit which breathes throughout
your preface,” to your reprint of Dean Prideaux, in which praise all who
have read the work will readily join.  But as it illustrates his
Lordship’s views, we may as well give the remainder of the note.  The
quotation from Archbishop Secker is as follows:—

    “Et hæc eadem velim sibi in memoriam revocent, qui Liturgiam item
    recenseri reformarique flagitant.  Ornatior quidem, accuratior,
    plenior, brevior, et POTEST EA FIERI ET DEBET; sed modesta
    tractatione, sed tranquillis hominum animis; non temerariis, qualia
    vidimus et videmus, ausis, non inter media dissidia mutuasque

“Some of the faults imputed to our public service are,” as Dr. Balguy
says, “of such a nature as to admit of no alteration.  In these instances
we must renounce our faith before we can consent to reform our worship;
to reform it, I mean, in the only way which can stop the complaints of
its adversaries.”—Discourses, vol. 1, p. 103. {36c}

Not having arrived at your conclusion—“That the Bishop of London, who
came forward as the principal opponent of the Petition, is an unfit guide
for public opinion on such a subject.” {36d}  I have thought it but just
that the public should know what his Lordship’s sentiments on the subject
of a Revision of the LITURGY really are.

{35a}  Bp. of Norwich’s Pamp. p. 45.

{35b}  Rev. John Newton, Apologia, p. 9.

{35c}  Bishop of London’s Charge, 1834.

{36a}  Hor. Epist. II. i. 45.

{36b}  Bishop of Norwich’s Pamph. p. 5.

{36c}  Bishop of London’s Charge, Appendix N.

{36d}  p. 3.

{37}  Nares Bamp. Lect. p. 466, note 3.

{38}  Articles, &c. in the Primary Visitation of Edward, Bishop of
Norwich, 1838.

{39a}  p. 18.

{39b}  p. 92.

{39c}  Hull, 15.

{40}  p. 14.

{42}  Visitation Charge, 1771.

{43a}  Hull, p. 19.

{43b}  Bishop of London’s Charge, 1834, p. 40.

{43c}  South’s Serm. vol. ii. Epist. Ded. to Univ. of Oxford.

{44a}  Eccl. Pol. b. V. s. 42.

{44b}  Bishop of Norwich’s Pamph. p. 28.

{44c}  Mark xvi. 14.

{44d}  John iii. 15.

{44e}  John ix. 26.

{44f}  2 Thess. xi. 12.

{45}  Vogan’s Bampton Lect. p. 375.

{46a}  Bishop of Norwich’s Pamph. p. 28.

{46b}  Just Vind. of the Church of England, Disc. iii.

{47a}  Schism Guarded, iv. Sect. x.

{47b}  See Pearson on the Creed, Art. 8, note.

{48a}  Paraphrase on Com. Prayer, Append. Numb. 3, p. 292, second

{48b}  p. 54.

{49a}  Pet. with Expl. 27.

{49b}  Petition, &c. p. 25.

{49c}  p. 24.

{49d}  p. 23.

{50}  Belsham’s Calm Inquiry, pp. 291, 292.

{51a}  Petition, &c. p. 31.

{51b}  Bishop of Norwich’s Pamphlet, p. 34.

{52a}  Bp. of Norwich’s Pamph. p. 33.

{52b}  Ezek. xiii. 19.

{53a}  Service for Visiting the Sick.

{53b}  MS. Note by Bishop Overall.

{54a}  Petition, &c. p. 31.

{54b}  p. 33.

{54c}  Eccl. Pol. B. vi.

{56}  Antiquities, vol. viii. Append. p. 239.

{57a}  Eccl. Pol. b. V. s. 77.

{57b}  Div. Inst. of Off. Min. pp. 225, 226.

{59a}  p. 51.

{59b}  Div. Inst. of Off. Min. Sect. vii.

{59c}  Petition, &c. p. 37.

{60a}  Acts vi. 6.

{60b}  1 Tim. i. 6.

{60c}  Petition, &c. p. 38.

{61a}  Antiquities, b. ii. c. xi. sec. 9.

{61b}  Petition, &c. p. 42

{62a}  Eccl. Pol. b. V. s. 77.

{62b}  p. 58.

{62c}  p. 105.

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