Francis J. McGrath and Gerard Tracey (eds), The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman, Vol. 9: Littlemore and the Parting of Friends: May 1842–October 1843
pg 6132.2. From: [R. Mant], Bishop's Charge as published in the Irish Ecclesiastical Journal, No. 24,28 June 1842, 410–13.
'A CHARGE INTENDED FOR DELIVERY AT THE VISITATION OF THE CLERGY OF DOWN AND CONNOR, BY THEIR BISHOP, JUNE, 1842.1
It is within the knowledge of many of you, my reverend brethren, that, at a meeting of one of our diocesan societies last January, I took occasion to observe, in a letter addressed to the noble Marquis, who kindly occupied the chair, that "since the Reformation the Church has experienced seasons of trial, and is experiencing such a season now. On the one hand a disposition may be perceived, not only to slight her authority and formularies, but to compromise her apostolical character, and to merge her distinctive excellence in the gulf of Protestant latitudinarianism; a disposition, on the other hand, may be perceived to revert to the once bygone fancies of Romish superstition, and thence to bring forward obsolete notions and practices, which, in common with others from the same repository of error, she had disallowed and repudiated." It will perhaps be not inexpedient, if I avail myself of our present annual Meeting, for expanding the sentiment thus compendiously expressed, and laying before you some of the particular forms of trial, whereby the Church appears to be beset.
1. In thus referring to the Roman errors, to which, although noticed last in the foregoing extract, it is my purpose to direct on this occasion your first attention, you will naturally understand me as alluding to certain publications, under the title of "Tracts for the Times," which have of late been the subject of much public discussion.
But here I would at once profess my disapproval of the spirit and manner, wherein that discussion has been too often conducted. Those of you, my reverend brethren, who have read the Tracts, will probably concur with me in opinion, that they were undertaken with good and laudable motives, that in many particulars they were directed to valuable ends, that they have in some cases been productive of important benefit. These, however, are not sufficient reasons, why, if evil has been blended with their good, that evil should not be unfolded and deprecated; rather there are obvious reasons why it should. But I am confident, my reverend brethren, that you will also concur with me in opinion, that those who are not acquainted with the productions by actual perusal, are not the proper persons rightly to estimate their character; that many of those, who have assumed the office of judges, are not qualified for discharging it; that general, indiscriminate, intemperate, violent abuse, is not the language fit for a discussion of their merits or demerits; that, if erroneous sentiments be avowed in them, whilst we condemn the error, respect is due to the religious attainments, the high moral excellence, the learning, and the conscientious efforts, conscientious doubtless, however misdirected, of the writers from whom these compositions proceed; and that, in particular, it is an act of grievous injury to a distinguished individual, to brand the opinions in question and the maintainers of them with appellations derived from his name; appellations, which in point of fact are not correctly attributed, the fitness of which he has distinctly disclaimed, and the imposition of which he feels to be injurious to himself, however the discredit may properly attach to such as employ the appellations, rather than to him. Necessarily as my subject will lead me to speak with disapprobation of some of the views and practices of those of our brethren, I hold myself bound to speak thus respectfully of their persons. And such a course you, I trust, will esteem most agreeable to equity and reason, as well as to our Christian profession and the obligations of brotherly love.
pg 614In obedience to the same spirit will be the manner, in which it is my purpose to bring the several topics before your minds: in the manner, namely, not of censure upon others, so much as of admonition to ourselves. It is not in the character of a theological critic or polemic, that I am now addressing you. But as one, whose duty it is, and who is "ready, the Lord being his helper, to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrine, contrary to God's Word, and both privately and openly to call upon and encourage others in the same,"1 I invite your attention to the proposed inquiry, which, under God's blessing, shall be submitted to you as instrumental, less to a judgment upon others, than to a salutary admonition for ourselves.
1. Be it then our first caution, not to deviate from our national Church, by adopting any guide to faith or practice, other than that which the Church herself acknowledges and prescribes.
To elevate tradition into an authority, independent of and paramount to the written Word of God, was the fatal error on which the Romish Church made shipwreck; to reduce tradition to its secondary station, and to value it as subordinate only and auxiliary to God's Word, contained in Holy Scripture, was the first step to our religious reformation. Holy Scripture, with respect to matters of faith, is pronounced by the Church to "contain all things necessary to salvation;" and with respect to practice, in the decreeing of rites and ceremonies, she pronounces it to be "not lawful for her to ordain any thing, that is contrary to God's Word written."2
The Church, indeed, cherishes and professes a high respect for the sentiments of the ancient doctors and bishops of the early Church, as best qualified, by their opportunities of time and place, to illustrate and aid the true interpretation of the written Word of God; and as embodying the sentiments of those ancient doctors, she has regarded with special veneration the decrees of the first four General Councils, those of Nice, of Constantinople, of Ephesus, and of Chalcedon. But whilst she protests that "things ordained by them as necessary to salvation have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out of Holy Scripture,"3 so she receives them only upon the ground of their ordinances being of scriptural origin.
Thus in the Council of Nice it was decided, that the Son is truly God, of the same substance with the Father; in that of Constantinople, that the Holy Ghost also is truly God; in the Council of Ephesus the divine nature was affirmed to be truly united in Christ to the human, and with it to constitute one person; and in the Council of Chalcedon both natures were affirmed to remain distinct; and that the human nature was not swallowed up in the divine. But why does the Church receive these decrees of the four Councils? Is it upon the authority of the decrees themselves? Surely not; but because they have their foundation in Holy Writ. "These truths," as Bishop Burnet [1643–1715] says, "we find in the Scriptures, and therefore we believe them: we reverence those Councils for the sake of their doctrine; but do not believe the doctrine for the authority of the Councils."4
Thus again, with respect to the Athanasian Creed, which is a practical application of these decrees, setting forth that the Son and Holy Ghost, who are each truly God, are in the unity of the Godhead justly the objects of worship. But here also the Church maintains this position, not because the Athanasian Creed asserts it, but because the creed may be "proved by the most certain warrants of Holy Scripture, and therefore ought to be thoroughly received and believed."5
Let us, however, put a different case. Let us suppose that the ancient doctors of the Church were favourable to an opinion and a practice agreeable thereto, not of an indifferent nature, such as might be safely and harmlessly embraced, but involving a theological doctrine, would it be consistent with the principles of the Church to follow such an example, if it could not be shown to rest upon Holy Scripture, but were "rather repugnant to the Word of God"?6
I will put the question in a specific form. Let us suppose that the ancient doctors of the Church were favourable to the usage of prayers for the dead: an usage, which presupposes that the dead are capable of being profited by the prayers of the survivors; for otherwise the prayers pg 615were nugatory; but such a supposition is unfounded, and gratuitous at least, not to say at variance with God's written Word: an usage, which supposes likewise that such prayers are agreeable to God's will and pleasure; but this supposition also is without scriptural foundation, or, if it have foundation, it makes the usage matter of obligation rather than of permission, and, instead of leaving it to the option of the Church, imposes it on her as a duty. But supposing the practice of the doctors of the ancient Church to be precedents for the prayers for the dead, would it be a fit example for our national Church to follow, in accordance with her declared principles?
The answer shall be given in the language of the Church, in her "Homily concerning prayer." "Now to entreat of that question, whether we ought to pray for them that are departed out of this world, or no? Wherein, if we will cleave only unto the Word of God, then must we needs grant, that we have no commandment so to do." Again: "Therefore let us not deceive ourselves, thinking that either we may help other, or other may help us by their good and charitable prayers in time to come." And again: "Neither let us dream any more, that the souls of the dead are any thing at all holpen by our prayers; but, as the Scripture teacheth us, let us think that the soul of man, passing out of the body, goeth straightways either to heaven, or else to hell, whereof the one needeth no prayer, the other is without redemption."
The fact is, that this practice of praying for the dead is not recognized in the Sacred Scriptures of Christianity, by way either of precept or of example. In the Apostolical age, in the first century, no such practice was known. It had its origin in the curiosities of the second century, and by degrees became more widely spread and more firmly established, but with no other authority than custom. Before the Reformation, it was admitted generally, if not universally. At the Reformation, it was abolished by our Church: who, having at first retained it in her Liturgy, subsequently saw better reason to displace it, and left it altogether out of her common Prayer Book. In times succeeding the Reformation, some of our divines have spoken with tenderness of the practice, but it has received no countenance or encouragement from our national Church. Nor has any attempt been made for reviving it in the use of her members, till of later years, first by the non-juring clergy early in the eighteenth century, and now in the nineteenth by some of our brethren, whose proceedings are the subject of our present inquiry. With them it rests upon the precedent of the ancient Catholic Church, independently of the guide which our Church recognizes and prescribes: a precedent which, if consistently followed, would lead to very serious and dangerous consequences; for, if prayers for the dead be revived in the Church, as an ancient Catholic practice, of which we have the evidence, for instance, of Tertullian in the second century, why should not the practice of offering annual oblations at the tombs of the dead be restored on the same authority? Why should not the practice of making a cross on the breast upon every trivial occasion be also revived; a practice so general, that, as Tertullian also relates, not a shoe could be put on by a Christian, until he had thus testified his reliance on the cross of Christ?1 How, in a word, shall we resist that host of superstitious usages, which, on the authority of Christian antiquity, the Romanists will be ready to pour in upon us, and which, the principle being once admitted, we shall find it impossible to controvert and repel? So important is it, on account of the consequences, as well as of the principle, that we should adhere to the guidance of Holy Scripture, which our national Church acknowledges and prescribes.
2. Be it our second caution, that, in our extreme reverence and affection for the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church at large, we do not abate the feelings and restrict the conduct of dutiful respect, which becomes us in relation to our national branch of it.
To be conscious on good grounds that we are true members of the Catholic Church of Christ, such as she was founded under his authority by his Apostles, is one of the purest and most abundant sources of delight, which in our present state of trial have been vouchsafed to us by our God and Redeemer. But all the means of grace and holiness, all the blessings of apostolical doctrine and fellowship, are possessed by us in our national Church; and it is by communion with her that we have communion with "the Holy Church throughout the world." To her, our holy mother in Christ Jesus our Lord, our first, our best, our most affectionate regards are due; the regards of dutiful children to a tender parent deserving of all love and honour.
pg 616By the reformation of the errors into which she had fallen under the domination of Romish tyranny, and by her restoration to evangelical purity of faith and soundness of doctrine, by the holy aspirations of her liturgical devotions, by the integrity and uncorruptedness of her ritual, she claims our filial confidence, as in this kingdom the legitimate descendent of primaeval, and the unrivalled glory of modern, Christendom. Imperfections may, perhaps, be found in some of her provisions (as in what of human composition will there not?), by those who search for them with an eagle eye. But, should such be discovered here and there, it may be matter of grave and earnest deliberation with us, my brethren, whether with respect to her, who bore us at our new birth, and carried us in her arms, and nurtured us at her bosom, and trained us to tread the paths of righteousness, and strengthened us by the imposition of hands episcopal, and continually accustomed us to worship God in the beauty of holiness, and fed us with the bread of life and gave us to drink of the waters of salvation, and sent us forth, as her ministers and representatives, under a solemn pledge to "give our faithful diligence, always so to minister the doctrine and sacraments, and the discipline of Christ, as the Lord hath commanded, and as she hath received the same:"1 it may, I say, be matter of most serious deliberation with us, my brethren, in our relation to our holy mother Church, whether it behoves us to put forward, unfold, descant, and enlarge upon her fancied imperfections, after the manner of some of the compositions now under our consideration; whether it be well to suggest with one that "she is in need of a second Reformation;"2 to exhort with another, that, till her members be stirred up to a certain religious course, "the Church sit still, be content to be in bondage, work in chains, submit to her imperfections as a punishment, go on teaching with the stammering lips of ambiguous formularies, and inconsistent precedents, and principles but partially developed;"3 to plead with another, that "until God be pleased to amend it, we may rest contented with our lot;"4 to contend with another, that "the English Church seems to give an uncertain sound; that she fails in one of her very principal duties, that of witnessing plainly and directly to Catholic truth, that she seems to include what she ought to repel, to teach what she ought to anathematize;"5 to argue with another, that we must "unprotestantize the national Church," that we "cannot stand where we are," that "as we go on, we must recede more and more from the principles, if any such there be, of the English Reformation;"6 whether it be well to hold up to admiration the excellence and beauty of the ancient Catholic Breviary in comparison with the English Book of Common Prayer, and to expose her rites and ceremonies to an invidious comparison with those of earlier times by the reflection, "that, although the details of the early ritual varied in importance, and corrupt additions were made in the middle ages, yet, as a whole, the Catholic ritual was a precious possession; and if we, who have escaped from Popery, have lost not only the possession, but the sense of its value, it is serious question whether we are not like men who recover from some serious illness with the loss or injury of their sight or hearing; whether we are not like the Jews returned from captivity, who could never find the rod of Aaron, or the ark of the covenant, which indeed had ever been hid from the world, but then was removed from the temple itself."7 Whether such positions as these, my brethren, befit the lips of filial affection and duty, is submitted to your deliberation; for my own part, amidst this language of disparagement and derogation, methinks to my car a plaintive voice calmly but feelingly responds, "If I be a parent, where is my honour?"
3. Be it our third caution, that we do not, out of a fond respect for the bygone usages of antiquity, infringe the duty which we owe to our national Church in a faithful observance of her ordinances, and of her ordinances only.
At the era of the Reformation, by the agency of her sons, well versed as they were in the history and writings of the early Church, the Anglican Church compiled her form of prayer for her people, after the likeness, so far as change of circumstances would permit, in all respects on the principles, of the Catholic Church in her purest ages. In the exercise of a sound judgment upon matters indifferent or questionable, some things she chose, and others she rejected; and as the progressive light of divine knowledge beamed more clearly on her vision, clouded as it pg 617had been by the obscurity of the mediæval corruptions she continued to make successive improvements, until her liturgy was liberated from all essential error, and attained comparative perfection.
Thus she appointed her Sundays and other festivals or holydays for divine service, besides the order of her daily prayers; she appropriated the morning and evening of each day to the matins and evensong of her congregations; and from various rites, which had been used for religious solemnities, she selected those which, having in principle at least the sanction of Holy Scripture, as well as of ecclesiastical antiquity, and fitted withal for edification , and conducive to "the doing of all things in a seemly and due order,"1 appeared to her requisite to be retained; whilst, with a clear discrimination and salutary discretion, she repudiated or omitted others. It is a fit subject for our cautionary consideration again, whether it be conduct worthy of commendation and imitation, or whether it be not rather to be dispraised and avoided, if the things, which the Church hath set aside, her modern sons betray a disposition to reestablish and to engraft upon them others of a like character: whether a tendency at least to disrespect for her decisions be not manifested by them, who after the pattern of the ordinances of the earlier Church, but in deviation from those of their own mother, would fain institute new festivals for annual celebration, and institute new services; for example, by the appropriation of the 21st of March, under the title of "Bishop Ken's day,"2 in honour of one of her holy bishops and confessors, and by the construction of another special "service in commemoration of the dead in Christ;"3 would fain, for her morning and evening services, distribute her seasons of prayer into seven daily hours after a fanciful but unauthorized hypothesis of the precedent of apostolical worship;4 and would fain withal, in opposition to the judgment, which the Church herself saw cause to adopt after much deliberation and in her better mind, revert to the obsolete and antiquated practice of prayers for the dead.
It is true, that these alterations have not been proposed for public adoption in the Church. But they are indications of the bearing of the mind of those by whom they are commended. They show a restlessness of thought; a dissatisfaction with the actual devotions of the Church, and a hankering after other things "more excellent and beautiful." And they are thus calculated to shake in others, especially in youthful and unsteady minds, their esteem for the Church's provisions, and their confidence in her learning, piety, and wisdom. An opening is thus likely to be made for numberless innovations in our worship. In the same spirit of reverting to the example of early, but not scriptural, apostolical, and primeval antiquity, and in counteraction of the significant, though silent, self-correction of the English Church, there are those who have seen good to mix water with the wine at the holy communion. As in the same spirit, and notwithstanding the like disapproval of the Church, others might proceed, should they see good, to revive exorcism and other obsolete usages, practised of old time in the ministration of holy baptism.
4. Be it a fourth caution, that we do not adopt a rule for the interpretation of the Articles of the Church, so as to impose upon them a sense different from that which they were originally intended to, and do properly, bear.
The articles of religion, "agreed upon by the archbishops and bishops of both provinces, and the whole clergy, in the convocation holden at London in the year 1562," were agreed upon "for the avoiding of diversities of opinion, and for the establishing of consent touching true religion." And the King's declaration, in ratification of the articles in 1628, insisted on the agreement of the clergy "in the true, usual, literal meaning of the articles;" and commanded every man "not to draw the article aside any way, or to put his own sense or comment to be the meaning of it," but "to submit to it in the plain and full meaning thereof," and to "take it in the literal grammatical sense."
The conduct of the Church herein was marked by integrity and prudence; and the line described for the observance of her ministers appears intelligible and plain: on her part, a clear enunciation of her sentiments on the various topics brought under her notice; on her ministers, an honest subscription to her sentiments, in "the true, usual, literal meaning," in "the literal grammatical sense" of the language which conveyed them.
pg 618Other views, however, both of the conduct of the Church, and of the interpretation of her articles by her ministers, have been taken in these our times. The Church has been described as "seeming to give an uncertain sound;" as teaching "with the stammering lips of ambiguous formularies;"1 a grievous impeachment of her character, for truth or discretion, that she could discover and prescribe no better means than uncertainty and ambiguity for the attainment of her avowed object of "avoiding diversities of opinions, and establishing consent touching true religion." And for the sense of the articles reference has been made, less to the true purport of their language according to the use of their framers, than to the teaching, or rather the imaginary teaching of the Catholic Church, according as each individual may form his measure of that criterion; a process for ascertaining the truth, the very contrary to that which our Church has prescribed; for, whereas she has studied to avoid diversities of opinions by definite statements, to which she has required her ministers to testify their assent, the modern hypothesis supposes her ministers to be thus referred back again to the scattered testimonies of bygone times, and an indefinite antiquity; or rather to the deductions, each of his own mind, from the records of antiquarian ecclesiastical lore. The consequence of this must needs be perplexity and hesitation in fixing the meaning of the articles; occasions for evading or explaining away their real intention; laxity of sentiment as to the importance of unity of the faith, and diversity and contrariety, instead of unanimity and concord, in those who make profession of it; nay, the coexistence of subscription to the articles with an inward belief of the very errors which the articles themselves were framed to counteract.
And what, meanwhile, is the object to be thus attained? Avowedly, that "members of our Church may be kept from straggling in the direction of Rome;"2 or, as I understand it, that those whose minds disincline them for communion with our national Church, from a want of cordial concurrence with her articles literally understood, may discover a solution for their embarrassment in interpretations supposed to be supplied by ecclesiastical antiquity; and thus effectively retrograde step by step from their natural parent, under the semblance of a strict devotion to the Catholic Church; but in reality, it is to be feared, by an approximation to the Church of Rome.
For, in truth, the points on which this latitude of interpretation is sought, and a reference is pleaded to the testimony of Catholic antiquity, are the points on which our national Church is at variance with the Romish Church: and it is on these points that satisfaction is offered to the scrupulous inquirer, by detaching corruptions of the Christian religion from their connexion with Rome, in which connexion they are condemned by our twenty-second Article; and thereby procuring admission for them into the mind, under the character of ancient Catholic truths; as if, for example, whilst the particular corruptions, condemned by the Articles, were condemned merely as Romish corruptions, other synonymous practices of "purgatory, pardons, worshipping and adoration, as well of images as of reliques, and also of invocation of saints," had been previously in being, for which the example of ante-Roman antiquity might be pleaded, and against which, therefore, the Article was not directed. And so protection is thrown over the very doctrine which the Article was intended to reprobate: whilst we are told that "a certain veneration for reliques"3 is not to be condemned, but is to be tolerated; that "a certain worshipping and invocation of saints"4 is not censurable; that "a certain adoration of God's messengers" is not wrong and exceptionable, but is allowable; provided they be not accompanied with all the fond and foolish conceits, with all the aggravations of a senseless and profane superstition, which mark the Romish errors.5
By this principle, then, of interpretation, it is to be understood, that not the errors repudiated by the Church in her twenty-second Article, but the circumstances attending them, are condemned. And by a somewhat similar process which condemns "the sacrifices of masses," is not to be understood as speaking of "the sacrifice of the mass;"6 that notwithstanding the thirty-second, which declares the lawfulness of the marriage of priests at their own discretion, the Church has power, did she so choose, to take from them this discretion, and to pg 619oblige them either to marriage or to celibacy;1 and that, notwithstanding the declaration in the thirty-seventh Article, that "the Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in the realm of England," the supremacy of the Pope, while it lasted, was "an event in Providence;" that his jurisdiction, while it lasted, was "ordained of God," and had a claim on our obedience; that the same character belonged to "the metropolitan, the patriarchal, and the papal systems;" and that, as to whether the Pope "ought to have supremacy, ought docs not in any degree come into the question."2
Thus, indeed, may "the stammering lips of uncertain formularies" be fastened upon the Anglican Church: not so, whilst she is suffered to utter her sentiments in her own plain forms of speech, and is not constrained to submit her meaning to the fanciful exposition which her interpreters may be pleased to call the teaching of the Catholic Church.
5. And this leads to a further caution, that we abstain from the use of all such language as may tend to indicate in our own minds, or implant in others, an indifference to the errors and corruptions of the Romish Church, and to encourage, on the other hand, a favourable contemplation of her, by putting forward and commending her better qualities, and by obscuring and keeping out of sight her peculiar abominations. They are the "errors" of the Church of Rome, "not only in her living and manner of ceremonies, but also in matters of faith,"3 which, so far as we have any concern with that Church, it is our business, in pursuance of the example and instructions of our national Church, to fix in our own minds, and to make subjects of admonition to our people.
Under the former division allusion has been made to certain representations, calculated to lead to an acquiescence in some parts of the Roman system, if not to an approbation of it.
I would here refer to some commendations which have been bestowed on her devotional provisions, in particular relation to those of our national Church.
There are doubtless devotional compositions in the Romish Church, deserving of approbation as to their matter, however "repugnant to the word of God and the custom of the primitive Church," by reason of their being "in a tongue not understood of the people."4 But these are not their peculiar property: these she shares with our own Church, by whom, in common with her, they were derived from Catholic antiquity, and are still wisely, piously, and happily retained. Her devotional peculiarities, besides the use of a foreign and unintelligible language, are her superstitions, her idolatry, her invocation and adoration of the blessed Virgin and other saints, her intercessory supplications in their names, her giving of the Creator's honour to the creature. These ought to be kept constantly in our minds, if we would entertain a right idea of the Romish Church. These ought to be presented to others, if we would impress the like idea on their minds.
And, to say the truth, this is, to a certain extent, done by the authors to whom we are adverting; and they scruple not to avow "the utter contrariety between the Roman system, as actually existing, and our own; which, however similar in certain respects, are, in others, so at variance, as to make any attempts to reconcile them together in the present state, perfectly nugatory. "Till Rome moves towards us," they add, "it is quite impossible that we should move towards Rome; however closely we may approximate to her in particular doctrines, principles, or views."5
Yet there seems to lurk in their minds a desire, perhaps I may say that a desire is embodied in the attempt, to extenuate and apologize for some of these characteristics of Romish worship: as if some of the addresses to created beings, in the Breviary, were, and others were not, "intrinsically exceptionable;" as if the "confession before God Almighty, before the Blessed Mary, Ever-Virgin, the blessed Michael, Archangel, the blessed John Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, before all saints, and you, my brethren, that I have sinned too much in thought, word, and deed;" followed by the petition, "Therefore I beseech thee, blessed Mary, ever-Virgin, the blessed Michael, Archangel, the blessed John Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and you, my brethren, to pray the Lord our God, for me;"6 as if this confession, I say, and this petition, were "not a simple gratuitous invocation made to the saints, but an address to pg 620Almighty God in his heavenly court, as surrounded by his saints and angels:" and as if any thing whatever could be said toward the justification of such an invocation as the following: "Holy Mary, succour the wretched, help the weak-hearted, comfort the mourners, pray for the people, interpose for the clergy, intercede for the devoted females; let all feel thy assistance, who observe thy holy commemoration. Pray for us, holy Mother of God."1
Speaking, however, independently of these invocations, it is the evident tendency of the tracts, in which the services containing them are inserted, to raise the character of the Romish Church to an elevation exceeding that of our own, for her devotional exercises. Let the unbiased reader examine the account given of the Breviary, whence our service was derived, and let him judge in the first place whether the Breviary, as it was practised in the Catholic Church, is not holden up to admiration, as preferable to the English Book of Common Prayer; and then whether the same Breviary, as practised still in the Romish Church, save only the addresses to the Virgin Mary and other saints, is not represented as preferable to our Common Prayer, and whether, therefore, as a general structure, it is not deemed entitled to a higher praise. Set aside these objectionable addresses, which are capable of easy extermination, and the Common Prayer Book would stand in no competition with the exceeding "excellence and beauty in the services of the Breviary of the Roman Church," embodying, as they, in the title of their panegyric, represent it to embody, "the substance of the devotional services of the Church Catholic."2
Representations such as these, my brethren, appear to me fit subjects of cautionary reflection concerning the compositions, whereby they are conveyed to the public mind. Nor is the necessity of caution in this behalf diminished, rather, indeed, it is greatly augmented by such passages as I would now submit to your thoughts; the former of which asserts a proper religious feeling to exist exclusively at the present time in the Romish Church, and the second exhibits the two Churches of Rome and England in actual contrast with each other, greatly to the advantage of that of Rome.
"In truth," says the former of these two passages alluded to, "there is at this moment a great progress of the religious mind of our Church to something deeper and truer than satisfied the last century . . . The age is moving towards something, and most unhappily the one religious communion among us, which has of late years been practically in possession of this something, is the Church of Rome. She alone, amid all the errors and evils of her practical system, has given free scope to the feelings of awe, mystery, tenderness, reverence, devotedness, and other feelings, which may be especially called Catholic."3
The other passage enters into more detail; and if the length of the extract shall make it seem inappropriate for a quotation, an apology must be pleaded by its importance. "To these," says my author, speaking of certain persons peculiarly exposed to temptation, "to these the Roman Communion, as at present seen in this country, does come in a fascinating and imposing form. She comes to us with our common saints, which modern habits have led many wrongly to regard as hers exclusively; with holy truths and practices which in our recent carelessness are too often disregarded or neglected, or even spoken against amongst ourselves; with unity on truths, whereon we are distracted (although, alas! upon doctrines and practices also which are not true nor holy); with discipline, which we should find useful for ourselves, and which has been neglected among us; with fuller devotions, works of practical wisdom or of purified and kindled love; a ritual, which (though withdrawn mostly from the laity), still in itself, at some holy seasons, sets before the eyes more prominently than our own, our Saviour in his life and death for his Church, or which utters more distinctly some truths, which the sins of the Church caused to be more veiled among ourselves; or she points to a communion of saints, in which we profess our belief, but of which little is known among us, now that even the prayer for the Church Militant for the most part practically forms no part of our weekly service; she has in her monastic institutions a refuge from the weariness and vanities of the world, and a means of higher perfection to individuals, which many sigh after, and which might be revived in a primitive form, but which as yet we have not; in her small communion in this country she is not pressed on all sides by the spiritual wants of her children as we are, which hinder, perhaps, from noble enterprise in God's service, some who might otherwise have essayed it, still she docs pg 621erect among us edifices to his glory, with which, notwithstanding the ample means at the command of our people, we have but a little, here and there, in this day to compare. Above all, she comes to us with her prayers; and some of her members by remembering us at the altar, and night and day in the holy week, have drawn men's hearts unto them, and won our sympathy and gratitude, in any lawful way wherein we may manifest it."1
Your reflections, my brethren, will readily furnish the counterpart of this picture; and, together with the flattering features of the portrait, you will remember others of a very different cast, which distinguish the Roman communion: the adoration paid to our common saints, and the multitudinous addition of her own, with their meritorious and miraculous actions; the "blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits"2 by which her most holy truths and practices are desecrated and profaned; her real disagreements under the semblance of universal union; her discipline disgraced by tyranny; her devotions sullied by superstition; her ritual abounding in occasions of offence, and representing our Saviour's sacrifice as aided by the merits of her saints; her monastic institutions supplied by fraud, supported by injustice and violence, teeming with profligacy, and too grievous to be borne; her edifices erected professedly to God's honour, but abounding in abominations which dishonour God; her implacable animosity towards us, and her anathemas and execrations perpetually poured on us from her altars. But to these things I can barely allude in passing, and must be contented to leave the foregoing picture of the Roman communion drawn by a favourable hand, with the warning that we be not thereby deluded to mitigate our well-founded disapprobation of Rome, much less to make her the object of our admiration and imitation.'
1 The publication of the Charge was prefaced with the following letter of explanation from Bishop Mant:
'My Dear Sir, I have been some time preparing for my visitation of the clergy of Down and Connor, when I was informed that the cathedral church of Lisburn, the legal place for the visitation of this diocese, was under repair, and would not be in a fit condition to receive the clergy till a season, when it would be too late to assemble them without much inconvenience. Being, however, nevertheless desirous of submitting the subject, on which I purposed to address them, to their consideration, I request permission for the admittance of the following charge into the pages of your publication.
I remain, dear Sir, Your very faithful servant, Rd. Down and Connor, and Dromore.
Down and Connor House, June 11, 1842.'
On the death of James Saurin, Bishop of Dromore, in 1842, that diocese was amalgamated with Down and Connor in accordance with the Irish Church Temporalities Bill of 1833.
1 'The Consecration of Bishops.'
2 'Articles vi. and xx.'
3 'Art. xxi.'
4 'Bp. Burnet on Art. xx.'
5 'Art. viii.'
6 'Art. xxii.'
1 'Bishop Kaye on Tertullian, pages 345 and 456.'
1 'Ordination of Priests.'
2 'Tracts for the Times, No 41.'
3 'Tracts, No. 90, Introd.'
4 'Dr. Pusey's letter to Abp. Of Canterbury, p. 22.'
5 'Ward's Few more Words, p. 29.'
6 'British Critic, No. lix, p. 45.'
7 'Tracts, No. 34, at the end.'
1 'B.C.P. Of Ceremonies.'
2 'Tracts, No. 75, p. 125.'
1 'Tracts. No.90.'
2 'Letter to Dr. Jelf from the Author of No. 90, p. 27.'
3 'No. 90. p. 24.'
4 'Ib. p. 36.'
5 'Ib. p. 40.'
6 'Ib. p. 59.'
1 'Ib. p. 64.'
2 'lb. p. 77.'
3 'Art. xix.'
4 'Art. xxiv.'
1 'Ib. p. 53. and 10.'
3 'Letter to Dr. Jelf by the Author of No. 90, p. 26.'
1 'Dr. Pusey's Letter to the Abp. Of Canterbury, pp. ii, 12.'
2 'Art. xxxi.'