Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση
[ocr errors]

to have spent its force. Not only is the old standard of doctrine and discipline gone, but the old ideals and phrases have lost their meaning. The High-Anglican camp has become full of dissensions since the findings of history first disturbed the Tractarian view of the primitive Christian Church. And now in the

. general confusion two issues alone stand out plainly : the divergence between laity and clergy is every day increasing ; while the clergy themselves are fast giving up their old-fashioned adhesion to the principles of Church and State and the present version of the Prayer Book. Several High Anglicans have publicly notified, what many more less publicly avow, their dissatisfaction with the doctrines of the Prayer Book as it stands and with the statements in the Creed taken in their literal and grammatical meaning. These are, perhaps, not many in number, but a new problem has been raised. And at this moment, while we are mourning the loss in the same month of three such distinguished Tractaria'ns as the late Bishop of Oxford, the late Bishop of Salisbury and the late Dean of St. Paul's, it may be opportune to ask ourselves what these things mean and why they should be.

The Oxford Movement originally stood for an appeal to history in defence of Church Establishments. Yet it must have struck the least observant of mankind that the Oxford Movement from the outset was not destined to last or to leave any abiding impress upon the mind of the average Englishman. While refined and (what Plato calls) musical souls exist there will always be an appeal of the ritual and the ceremonial to fastidious and aesthetic natures. But even to such it will appeal rather as an art than as a religion, as something to cultivate more than as an object of worship. People of leisure have time to grow mystical. People in academic circles have means to become learned in ecclesiastical antiquity. But a religion that can only be cultivated in academies and practised in an artistic environment finds no room in the heart of a toiling mechanic and leaves no time for the private devotions of the modern man of affairs. In short, it becomes (unlike the plays of Shakespeare) a thing but for an age, not for all time. It supplies a need, but it does not supply the common needs, of all mankind. Take Newman, Pusey, Keble and Liddon from Oxford and from all the ecclesiastical and academical apparatus Oxford affords, and the sacred cult of the Fathers-the solemn initiation into an antiquated system-expires. It does not proclaim, it does not set out to proclaim, those grand primeval and fundamental truths of which dim voices in the heathen world were the harbingers and of

was the case some years ago . . It differs alike in intellectual consistency and in moral intensity ... Dr. Pusey noted the change with sorrow, and since he has left us it has become more marked. The change is far-reaching. It promises to become little less than universal.'-Life and Letters (note 10), p. 332.

[ocr errors]

8

which the preaching of the Gospel was (and ever is) the fulfilment. It does not specifically announce, as Canon Simpson not obscurely hints, to a guilty world the verdict of its ruin in the sight of God or the hope of its restoration to the Image of God. It does not specifically echo the tidings of redemption through the Blood of Christ, the completeness of forgiveness, the assurance of a resurrection, the existence of a hope incorruptible, indefectible and that fadeth not away.

What the new theology delights to proclaim is a partial truththe necessity of system. According to the terms of subscription to this system man may obtain a part-salvation if assisted by his own efforts, and if fortified by all the rites of the visible Church on earth he may quit himself a valiant and persevering warrior. As a helpless infant he received in Baptism-such is the stupendous miracle we are asked to believe—the first instalment of the Holy Ghost. The seed once planted in Baptism and watered in Confirmation matures, it appears, with the (if possible) daily recep. tion of the Eucharist. It is invigorated by Penance, it is cleansed and pruned by Confession and, to be finally victorious, may issue in the holy fruit of a spotless celibacy.

Now we venture to say that such a system-a system which Augustine did not hesitate to call Pelagian 8-while it makes its due appeal to the eye, the heart, the fancy of the unregenerate man (who would fain have a Christianity without Christ and a gospel of orderliness without a corresponding inward change ") will never be believed, and never yet was seriously believed, by any of the sons of men.

O, 'tis a burden, Cromwell, 'tis a burden

Too heavy for a man that hopes for heaven! In all this elaborate system of religious, or rather of ritual, solemnities there is not sufficient room for the heart of man to be roused by the terrors of the Law or to be softened by the pleadings of the Gospel.

Into such a system Liddon was entrapped. Of this system he became, in part, for the English Church at least, a supreme exponent. Let us see how materially it affected his character as a Christian, as a patriot, as a man of the world ; how it warped his learning, how it sapped his self-reliance, how it marred his native nobleness of soul. It drove the ardent Newman into strange stratagems. It made the learned Pusey an ambiguous controversialist. It led the accomplished Bishop Samuel Wilberforce

. (as Liddon acknowledged) into unfortunate compromises. It transformed the gentle and scholarly poet of The Christian Year

• See his admirable Op. impf. c. Jul.

Gwatkin, Knowledge of God, ii. 250 (T. & T. Clark, 1906).

[ocr errors]

into the sacerdotal sentimentalist of the Lyra Innocentium. It caused the publication of fond Hurrell Froude's more fond Remains. It shook the faith of Mark Pattison, from whose youthful confidences in the Confessional had first been wrung and then proclaimed some tender secret. It has sowed a' harvest of secret conspiracies against our Church and nation. In short, it has changed too many of our clergy from gentlemen and scholars into seminarists and fanatics, and has been chiefly instrumental in awakening a lifelong discord within the bosom of our once national Church. O

* These be thy gods, 0 Oxford !' We have now to inquire how far the incomparable Liddon unconsciously contributed to this result.

6

I. LIDDON THE THEOLOGIAN.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

A man's creed is his life. That furnishes for him the philosophy of his existence. Every Christian man professes to take the Bible for his guide. But he naturally and necessarily interprets it in the light of his own proclivities.

Dr. Bright of Oxford, himself didáo kalos oủ tuyóv, has described Liddon as a 'constructive Catholic theologian of the first order.' With all deference to Dr. Bright, Liddon's mind was certainly not 'constructive,' as he himself admitted, nor truly 'Catholic,' as we shall proceed to show. Nor was he a 'theologian ’ of the first, though possibly of the second, order. Except for the peculiar training of a consummate dialectician, a' knowledge of Waterland and of the commonplaces of theology would have furnished out the whole of the argument of his Bampton Lectures. Liddon's admirable analyses of the Epistle to the

10 Romans and of the First Epistle to Timothy are chiefly remarkable for their anxious dependence on the celebrated commentaries of Meyer. And on the issues raised by the controversy with Rome the few which Liddon cared or dared to face had previously been settled by the learned judgment of Pusey. In truth we shall find

6

10 Cp. Lord Acton on Newman's, Samuel Wilberforce's and Liddon's theology in Liddon's Life and Letters, by Canon Johnston, Principal of Cuddesdon (longmans), p. 309. See also Great Modern Preachers (cit. note 56). In the Eampton Lectures of Liddon only one page is given to 'recent philosophers,' while a brief note in the Appendix rapidly summarises the new Lives of Christ by Straues and others then appearing. The false accentuation of Anplov as Anprov, a hich has disfigured three successive editions of Liddon’s Life, we may impute to an error on the part of Liddon's biographer (p. 372). But Liddon's derivation of the meaning of 'Justification from justum facere (instead of justum reputare) and his translation of dikaloûv (" to justify ') by 'make just' instead of

pronounce just,' offer equal violence to good Greek, common sense and sound theology together. (Cp. Bp. Gibson, XXXIX Articles, pp. 391-6. The facts of language are inexorable.') Liddon owed this piece of scholarship to the early heretic Basilides (Neander, Ch. H. ii. 66).

.

1

11

6

whenever Liddon on his own account becomes a 'constructive theologian ’he goes astray. Let us indulge a few examples.

It is a point that has never been settled by the united wisdom of the Christian Church what specific benefit is conveyed in Infant Baptism. On one point all Churches, even that of the Papacy, are agreed—that strictly speaking grace is not actually 'conveyed’ to the infant in the element of water-in short,

that the term 'baptismal regeneration 'must be explained in a qualified sense. This opinion was asserted by Popes Innocent the Fourth and Clement the Fifth and by the most celebrated schoolmen of that age such as Lombard, Bonaventura, Aquinas and Estius; while it was left doubtful by the Council of Trent, and the doubt is confirmed by the Church of England formularies. Thus the twenty-fifth Article of the English Church assures us that infant baptism is in any wise to be retained as being most agreeable with the institution of Christ, yet only those who receive baptism ' rightly'-i.e. with faith and its fruits (recte) are grafted into the Church. In the Baptism Service the sponsor standing for the child is actually asked by the minister: 'Wilt thou (the sponsor] be baptised in this faith? '—that is, the child being treated by proxy. Two expressions in this Service and in the Catechism might scem to be patient of a different interpretation. In the former occurs the phrase : This child is now regenerate'; in the latter : '[In Baptism] I was made a member of Christ.' Yet even here the Church has not left us to wander in the dark. We have two authorised commentaries on these expressions which warn us that they are to be taken on a charitable hypothesis. These are Nowell's Catechism which appeared with Archbishop Cranmer's second edition of the Prayer Book, and Mayor's English Catechism published with Archbishop Laud's sanction on the appearance of the fourth revision of the Prayer Book. Nowell's book was further enjoined by the canons of 1571 as well as by the seventy-ninth canon of 1603, and has long been regarded till very recent times as the handbook of the English clergy on the subject.

Liddon, on the other hand, in his weaker moments held a strictly literal doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration, not in the old Papal but in the modern Tridentine sense, and regarded a doctrine denied by twelve centuries of Fathers as an article of revelation vital to the Christian faith!

'If I did not believe in Baptismal Regeneration,' he writes in an attack upon Dr. Mozley's view, 'I should lose my faith in more than one revealed truth besides.' 'Particular agencies in the Sacraments .. are equally matter of revelation with the attributes of God.'

" Cited in Dean Goode's Effects of Infant Baptism (Hatchards, 1850).

6

The Gorham decision, which made against Liddou's view, he coolly terms 'a soul-destroying heresy,' and pathetically concludes:

Fiat Lur. If I had sinned less grievously against Baptismal Grace I should see my way more clearly. Even now I am in bondage to sin. Libera, miserere, Jesu!

[ocr errors]

6

His views upon the other Sacrament were no less remarkable. For thirteen hundred years the Christian Church has accepted Augustine's view and quoted Augustine's language to the effect that the broken Bread and poured-out wine are ‘symbols' of Christ's Passion which we must 'spiritually eat and drink' by 'meditating' on the benefits of His Atonement. The Eucharist was a feast of thanksgiving for the benefits of Christ's Death. This was the view, as Archbishops Ussher and Tillotson point out, of all the Fathers of the first six centuries including Pope Gelasius himself, who expressly confuted the doctrine of a local Presence. They all give us to understand that unless the Sacramental language be taken metaphorically the Sacraments would strictly speaking not be Sacraments (i.e. visible representations) at all. Even the old Canon law of Rome asserted that the heavenly sacrament which truly represents the flesh of Christ is called the Body of Christ, but improperly : whence it is said after a manner but not according to the truth (or reality) of the thing. So that the meaning is, it signifies the Body of Christ.' 'That so,' as the Pope's chief Canonist, Gratian, adds as a gloss on the old Canon of the Mass, ' neither reality may be wanting to the Sacrament nor pagans have occasion to laugh at us for drinking the blood of one slain.' In Henry the Eighth's day Cardinal Cajetan and Bishop Fisher both declared that there was not one word in the Gospel from which the true presence of Christ in the Mass could be proved.13

That these sentiments have been the invariable doctrine of the English Church may be seen from the writings of Bede and the sermons of Archbishop Aelfric "_the latter of which have always been regarded as part of the Canon law of the English Church. Even the Bishop of Oxford, who represents the advance wing of

[ocr errors]

1: De Doctr. Chr. lib. iii. c. xvi. 24 (ed. Bened.). This passage was expressly cited by Ratramnus in the ninth century against the heresy of Paschasius Radbertas forged in 831, and was quoted all down the Middle Ages till Cranmer, vhose attention was first called to it by Ridley, Bishop of London. Augustine's view stands slightly corrected by the learned and keen-sighted Calvin (inst. Chr. iv. c. xvii. 4-9) in favour of a more Catholic interpretation.

13 See all the citations and references in Abp. Tillotson's 'Sermon on the History of Transubstantiation' (Sermons, fol. i. 239 sq.), and in Archbishop Ussher, Works vol. iii., 'The Real Presence,' v;ho points out that the most dis. tinguished Jesuite such as Bellarmine and Salmeron allowed this view.

de Collier's Eccl. Hist. i. 481 sq.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »