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Nevertheless the above declaration is a very natural one, and it is impossible not to sympathise with the men who thus protest. As I have said, there is no reason why they should not endeavour to make the religious relations of Englishmen dominate their secular relations (i.e. subject the State to the Church), but the recent division in the House of Commons (200 to 14) hardly promises them much success, in spite of Mr. Arthur Balfour's favourable disposition towards Church autonomy.
Still, when we consider the great change which has taken place during the last fifty years, one cannot be very confident as to how such relations may stand at the end of the twentieth century. It is even possible that the friends of rational liberty and freedom of conscience may have yet again to struggle against a religious persecution 'due to the bringing about of such a subordination of secular relations. Not but what the Church' must always be in subjection to 'the State' in every nation (not an absolute theocracy) where the State' does not allow appeals, with respect to ultimate religious questions, to a power and authority external to the nation, and dutifully accept its decisions. But whatever the future may have in store for us, it is a fact that the High Church party has, for a long time, been conquering all along the line. It mainly consists of estimable men, generously devoted to what they regard as their supreme duty, regardless of self-interest. The English Church Union' may be said to comprise the élite of the Anglican body, and its president, Lord Halifax, is a man whom to know is to love. The Ritualists comprise the most ardent and energetic devotees of the 'Anglican Church,' and the clergy are being vigorously supported by a large body of like-minded laity. With such persons, it seems to me, earnest men may well sympathise, however much they may dissent from, or even detest, the tenets and the aim of the High Church party. Their opponents, on the other hand, largely consist (as was shown at the recent Albert Hall meeting) of men who are dominated by political aims, and relatively little by a zeal which is exclusively religious. Not but that there are many anti-Ritualists who may justly claim our sympathy on personal grounds. Such are the survivors of the once dominant Evangelical party. Those amongst us who can recollect how modest were the early ritualistic efforts, will be able to appreciate the horror which must be felt by such survivors at the spectacle offered to them to-day. They must also be vexed and mortified by the thought how that very 'evil thing' has come to pass which they predicted, and to which they could not effectually open men's eyes, though aided by the Bishops who, so vigorously, 'charged' against Newman. And what they said was true; with the introduction of the surplice into the pulpit, 'Popery' did, as they affirmed, enter with it. That change did contain in germ, not only the vestments, incense, and reservation of the Sacrament of the present day, but the
acceptance of Papal infallibility and prostration at the Pope's feet, of the more or less near future. Surely honest and old-fashioned Evangelicals deserve a deal of pity. But the depression and more or less complete destruction of this party were inevitable. It could not survive side by side with science, Biblical criticism, and higher culture.
The fate which has overtaken the Broad Church party, however, was less easily to be anticipated. In the days of the late Dean Stanley it was full of hope. It seemed that a great experiment was about to be tried as to whether a Church, framed to include the entire nation, could or could not continue to exist without any definite creed. To the men of that school-and in those days the present Archbishop of Canterbury seemed to belong to it 2-the Anglican Church had a magnificent prospect before it-influence over a much more widely extended portion of the world than the vast British Empire itself. To men of the Broad Church all scientific discovery was welcome, every branch of research admirable, whatever might be its bearing on theological opinions and prejudices. Surely all men who love science must feel some regret at the loss of so great a stimulus to the cultivation and diffusion of knowledge, as has been due to the depression and great diminution of the Broad Church section of the Anglican clergy.
In one way or another, then, each of the three sections of the Anglican establishment has some claims on our sympathy.
But to return to the question which specially concerns us-the ritualistic doctrine of 'continuity '—can the changed relations we have noted be regarded as changes which have taken place in the normal process of ecclesiastical development? We noted, at the beginning of this article, that healthy continuity might be consistent with considerable changes if they were normal and such as were found to occur in other entities similar in kind. But the changes of the ecclesiastical relations of Englishmen are, we have seen, completely divergent from such as have occurred in all those foreign communities in which Ritualists are specially interested, and wherewith they especially desire to show their own community has really remained in substantial harmony and agreement.
Of all the facts above enumerated about changed relations, by far the most fatal to such persistence is the change which did away with the acceptance, by English law-courts, of Papal decrees as ultimate and supreme decisions.
Some years ago Lord Beaconsfield affirmed that the Roman Catholic religion was established' in England by the fact that its head and supreme governor was the Pope-an authority beyond English control. There was, of course, some exaggeration in the statement, but it none the less contained a profound truth.
But at least all the moderate Ritualists, however ready to
2 Not only his celebrated essay in Essays and Reviews, but his Bampton Lectures on 'The Relations between Science and Religion,' indicated this affinity.
respect the Pope and accord him a primacy of honour, refuse obedience and object to the further development of Papal power which has taken place since the Reformation, as well as to Roman doctrines and practices which have also been evolved, during the same period. They prefer that which is earlier in date to that which is more recent, just as the Reformers professed to return to what was primitive.
But what should we say of biologists who insisted on adhering to the views of Ray, Linnæus, or Buffon, rather than to those of the most recent leaders of science? Newman has clearly shown Christians that they should look rather to the future than to the past, in order to obtain the clearest and fullest religious knowledge. However much we may venerate the Fathers,' it is their very remote descendants to whom we must have recourse for the fullest knowledge and best interpretation of the writings of their remote predecessors.
The profoundly unphilosophic desire to 'be primitive'—to return to the condition of primitive Christianity'-is common to most Dissenters as well as to Anglicans. Yet such a return would lead them all to utter absurdity. The thirteenth no more than the ninth, fifth, or second century can establish any supreme claim to serve as a model and standard. There is no ground for stopping short of the beginning of the first century. But to do this, and be quite like the really primitive Christians,' it would be necessary, in the first place, that they should all be circumcised. They should also avoid all swine's flesh and eat none but Kosher meat; they should attend synagogue zealously and pray with their heads covered, as well as assume the various other external and internal relations which made the earliest Christians indistinguishable from Jews in all that was obvious and external.
It is a very curious thing, that at the very time when Ritualists are looking backwards, imitating the pre-Reformation Church, preferring Sarum' to 'Rome,' and are hardening and narrowing generally in doctrine and becoming precisians as to ritual, various members of the Roman Church are busy softening down what is hard, broadening and harmonising doctrinal views, and varying ritual practices in accordance with modern needs.
While in the Catholic Dictionary (duly approved by authority) the legend of the Veronica is regarded as possibly the mere result of a barbarous name bestowed upon a pictured cloth, there are Anglicans, it is said, who (though, unlike Romans, they have no need to do so) put up representations of the legend referred to.
It seems that before long there will hardly be any superstitions of which 'Romans' are becoming ashamed that some 'Anglicans will not be eager to adopt!
Another very remarkable thing is that the nature of the most. modern developments of Roman doctrine is so widely misunderstood. It
is generally supposed that such development consists only in a further and further insistence on 'incredible' or 'incomprehensible' dogmas, while, in truth, the real process of theological evolution flows on almost, or quite, unnoticed. We hear a great deal about 'the Immaculate Conception' and 'Papal Infallibility' and modern popular devotions— especially, perhaps, to St. Joseph, and what are deemed offensive exaggerations of 'Mariolatry.'
As to what is 'popular,' Cardinal Newman, in a memorable sermon, plainly pointed out once for all its inevitable tendencies and characteristics as regards religion-namely, superstition.3
The new definitions above referred to are matters little more than verbal and have made no changes of any practical consequence. The Pope's authoritative decrees had long ceased to be directly reformable long before the Vatican Council, and their actually imperative acceptance now is so hedged round with necessary conditions that we remain very much where we were' before, although 'Catholicity' is tried just now by a strong reactionary breeze of 'Curialism.'
But while such merely external matters attract general attention, but little notice is taken of those wide and deep doctrinal developments which alone can make conformity possible for men imbued with modern science, physical, critical, historical, and ethical. But such changes are taking place continually and spreading in all directions amongst the educated, and this for the most part silently, save for a few impotent threats and outcries which utility no less than courtesy have led us to treat with decorous non-opposition, knowing that the circle of the sciences judges with infallible security.
To take one striking and unquestioned example from the domain of ethics. It was once proclaimed out of the Church no salvation!' It is now taught that no ultimate disadvantage can accrue to anyone who faithfully and diligently follows his conscience, whatever may be his religious convictions.'
But when the changes to which reference is here made are considered, the question may well arise in the mind of him who studies them: How about the Roman Communion?'
It is all very well to criticise Anglicans and their religious ideas and practices, but is there any really true continuity amongst Roman Catholics?
This is a question which must surely be one of even higher general interest than that which concerns only a certain section
3 In last April, when staying (at Vozzi's excellent Albergo di Londra at Cava dei Tirreni) with my friend the Rev. Alfred Fawkes, we drove to Pompeii. On the road we paused to visit the Madonna of Pompeii-a recent development in devotion. We were surprised to see that a woman who was crawling on hands and knees towards the altar rails had her head so close to the ground. We found that she was continuously licking the pavement, and that others were following her, some of them necessarily licking where others had licked before.
of Englishmen and Englishwomen. It is, however, a question so large and, as I deem it, of such great importance that it cannot be entered upon here. I hope, however, to be allowed to treat of it in the near future, and this the more since serious warnings that my time is probably but short make me extremely desirous to do the little I can towards the promotion of truth, as it appears to me, at the end of my life's experience.
ST. GEORGE MIVART.