Old Anglicanism and Modern Ritualism. Chapter 8: Old Anglicanism In Conflict With Ritualism
15 min read
15 min read
The series of extracts from the works of the seventeenth-century divines given above define their attitude towards the Church of Rome. Those divines represent the historical school of Anglican High Churchmen. There have always been two schools of thought in the Church of England, and each of these schools has a standing-ground within her which none would care to dispute. They do not differ in fundamentals. They hold the same creeds and are faithful to the same Prayer-Book, the Articles, and the other standards of belief, while they have an equal reverence for the authority of Holy Writ. One school leans more to one set of favourite doctrines, the other school to another set. Evangelicals love to dwell on the great truth of the Atonement and on the need of faith; High Churchmen, professing that they do not undervalue these fundamental principles of Christianity, treat more copiously of the means of grace. Neither party denies the truths urged by the other, though each loves to occupy itself with one side rather than the other of a complex truth. The Church is wide enough for both, and she holds both in her embrace and love, and calls them both her children.
A new party has arisen, which claims forbearance, and to which forbearance is extended, on the hypothesis that it is the modern representative of the historical High Church school of the seventeenth century. Men who do not belong to it throw their shields over its members on that score. To know whether this claim is just or unjust, it is necessary to make an induction on a large scale. This I have attempted above. Hooker, Andrewes, Laud, Cosin, Taylor Bull, Beveridge, Bramhall, Hall, Pearson, are adequate specimens of the class whose tenets we desire to arrive at. It may be fairly argued that what they held in common is tenable in the Church of England by High Churchmen now; but that must be admitted with this further corollary, that what they rejected must be rejected now by any who appeal to their authority as justifying themselves.
I do not propose to cull statements made by members of the modern school which are in contrast with the statements of the seventeenth-century divines. And for this reason: My purpose is not to convict so much as to convince. I am not anxious to pin down Lord Halifax or anyone else to an extravagant statement, made perhaps in the excitement of oratory, or in anger, or in disappointment, or in pain. Better that these ebullitions should be forgotten and forgiven, provided that those who uttered them show themselves willing to drawback to the standing-ground of the High Churchmen of the seventeenth century.
It is only necessary to read the early Tracts for the Times to see that there was no intention on the part of the Tractarians at first to go a step beyond that point. They believed that principles, held two centuries ago, had been to a great extent forgotten in the eighteenth century, and that it was necessary to recur to those principles to defend the position of the Church, which could no longer rely on the external protection of the State as an Establishment, and, if it was to stand, must stand by its own intrinsic strength. But John Henry Newman’s mind was one of great restlessness. Seizing the direction of the movement with a firm hand, he guided it more and more in the direction of Rome, to which he at length himself submitted. It was probably the sceptical tendency of his own disposition that led him backwards to this consummation. He must have an authority with which to silence his doubts not only authority, it must be infallibility; nothing less was sufficient. Where was it to be found? In the Church diffusive, said Pusey. But the Church diffusive could not speak, and, being split into several sections, would not be able to speak. This was not enough for Newman. He must have a living voice to tell him, You are to believe this, and you are not to believe that, after which pronouncement he would never speculate again. Where was such a voice? No Protestant Church claimed it; if it existed at all, it could only be in the Roman part of the Church and its Bishops. So Newman succumbed to Rome, having led his special followers to the brink of the precipice down which he himself leapt. Some of his disciples followed their master. Some gave up religion as a failure. Some recurred to the old Anglican position, and congratulated themselves on emancipation from their late intellectual thraldom. Some remained in the Church of England, and set themselves the task of introducing into her the principles and the dogmas of the Church to which Newman had seceded. Through a trustful but weak toleration, the last-named party was singularly successful, and out of it has grown the Ritualistic movement, a movement as ill-named as it is misdirected.
What is it that sober-minded men complain of in the Ritualist party? The following points in particular :
1. A depreciation of the Reformation and disloyalty to its principles.
2. A tenderness towards Rome, which leads to the condonation of her errors and offences as a whole.
3. An indifference in each particular case to the false doctrines of the Church of Rome, and a disposition to excuse, if not to accept them.
4. The adoption of the mediaeval and modern Roman tenet of the presence of Christ’s Humanity and Divinity in the elements of bread and wine, under the name of the Objective Presence.
5. The consequent introduction of the doctrine of the Mass and of the ceremonies naturally accompanying it, of Children’s Eucharists with a view to teach it, and of other rites following upon it.
6. The practice of the Confessional. Does the teaching of the old historical High Church school justify the new school on these points?
1. On the subject of the Reformation we have shown that Hooker teaches that we dare not communicate with Rome concerning sundry her gross and grievous abominations, and that the indisposition of the Church of Rome to reform herself must be no stay unto us for performing our duty to God, and that our prayer to God is that she will yield to frame and reform herself, so that no distraction remain in anything (p. 20). Bishop Andrewes declares that it was a duty to reject the sore injury and grievous defilements which the Catholic faith had suffered, in order to cling to the Catholic faith, while repudiating uncatholic corruptions; that the dogmas rejected by us were unknown to, or rejected by, the Fathers; that our designation of Protestants came from our protesting that we would not any longer endure errors and abuses, but would remove them; that the way to peace is for Rome to reform those things in which she differs from us; that the Reformation was not an innovation, but a restoration of what those in ancient time held, which Rome had innovated upon; that wherever we changed anything in ritual, it was because the Roman Church had gone away from the pure and perfect worship of God, and because it was not so from the beginning; that our Reformers protested against the faults that had crept into the Church, and, acting on that protestation, separated from Rome until those faults were changed for the better, but they did not touch the primitive faith or religion (pp. 26-28, 46-56).
Archbishop Laud says that in our Reformation our Princes and our clergy and our nation each did their part the Princes by summoning the clergy to meet for the consideration of reform and giving assent to their acts; the clergy by drawing up the Thirty-nine Articles; and the nation by confirming in Parliament what was done by the Church ; that it was Rome that hindered a reformation, which would otherwise have been universal, and as she would neither reform herself nor suffer reformation, it was the duty of each particular Church to reform herself; that it was her corruption of the doctrines of the faith that caused the separation of the Churches, and still causes the separation to continue (pp. 80-83).
Bishop Cosin says that the abuses, corruptions, and erroneous doctrines removed at the Reformation were like warts and tumours on a man’s body, the removal of which restores to the body its natural and fair appearance, and they were no part of true religion; that at the Reformation the strange, new, and unreasonable doctrines and practices which in lapse of time had crept into our Church by inadvertence, or had been wilfully introduced by Romish guile, have been reformed and brought into accordance with the Word of God in lawfully assembled synods and in Parliament (p. 101).
Bishop Jeremy Taylor writes: The Church of England being ashamed of the errors, superstitions, heresies and impieties which had deturpated the face of the Church, looked in the glass of Scripture and pure antiquity, and washed away those stains with which time and inadvertency and tyranny had besmeared her, and being thus cleansed and washed, is accused by the Roman parties of novelty, and condemned because she refuses to run into the same excess of riot and deordination; but we cannot deserve blame who return to our ancient and first health by preferring a new cure to an old sore (p. 168).
Bishop Bull, speaking of the Reformation, exclaims: God grant that we do not provoke Him to recall that mercy, which ourselves, indeed, throwback in His face, as if it were not worth our acceptance, and to cause a dark night of Popery to return on us. We should then cast back a kind and mournful eye upon our dear mother, the Church of England, whose very bowels we now tear and rip up by our own wicked schisms. He holds the Church of England to be the best and purest Church at this day in the Christian world, and blesses God that I was born, baptized and bred up in her communion, wherein I firmly resolve, by His grace, to persist as long as I live (p. 198).
It is to be noted that both Andrewes and Laud speak with the highest respect of the Thirty-nine Articles as our Confession of Faith. Hall calls them our Mother’s voice (p. 50, 81, 222).
2. Attitude towards Rome. Hooker does not hesitate to speak of the heresy of the Church of Rome, and he freely uses the expressions Popish heresies, Popish superstitions nay, he speaks of the Roman doctrine of justification as the mystery of the man of sin. Wherein do we disagree? He says: we disagree about the nature of the very essence of the medicine whereby Christ cureth our diseases. The Church of Rome, in teaching justification by inherent grace, doth pervert the truth of Christ. He warns modern Romanists that, though they may be saved, their estate is dangerous (pp. 11-14).
Andrewes contrasts England and Rome as the hill of Zion and the mountain of Samaria, and says that if any are not satisfied with the old Catholic faith without the new patches of Rome, and are not content unless, by draining to the dregs, they reach the abuses and errors, not to say fables and figments, which in the Middle Ages filled the Church, they must be left to their choice. Belong ye, then, to your Roman Catholic Church; we will belong to that which is simply Catholic, and not restricted to Rome! All that he allows to Romanists is that they have still among them many remains of the Catholic Faith, though some what corrupted, and that we may therefore call them members of the Catholic Church, but not sound members (pp. 49-56).
Laud holds that there is peril, great peril, of damnable both schism and heresy and other sins, by living and dying in the Roman faith, tainted with so many superstitions, as at this day it is, and their tyranny to boot. For himself, he acknowledges a possibility of salvation in the Roman Church, but not as men are Romanists, but as they are Christians … though they hazard themselves extremely by keeping so close to that which is superstition, and in the case of images comes too near idolatry (p. 83).
Cosin, in his last will and testament, writes: I do profess with holy asseveration and from my heart that I am now, and have ever been from my youth, altogether free and averse from the corruptions and impertinent, new-fangled and papistical (so commonly called) superstitions and doctrines, and new superadditions to the ancient and primitive religion and faith of the Church (p. 119).
Jeremy Taylor, having enumerated a number of Romish corruptions of the faith, warns people not to be ensnared by Roman emissaries, their religion, as it is distinguished from the religion of the Church of England and Ireland, being neither the old nor the Catholic religion, but new and superinduced by arts known to all who with sincerity and diligence have looked into their pretences. The religion of a Christian consists in faith and hope, repentance and charity, Divine worship and celebration of Sacraments, and, finally, in keeping the commandments of God. Now, in all these, both in doctrines and practices, the Church of Rome does dangerously err, and teaches men so to do (p. 128, 152).
Bishop Bull, having stated that the Church of Rome had quite altered the primitive ecclesiastical government, the primitive canon, or rule of faith, and miserably corrupted the primitive liturgy, or form of Divine worship, declares his belief that they are in great danger of their salvation who live in her communion that is, who own her erroneous doctrines and join in her corrupt worship (p. 178).
3. Condonation of the special false doctrines of the Church of Rome. Not a condonation, but a direct condemnation of the Roman doctrines of Tradition, Papal Supremacy, Transubstantiation, Adoration of the Sacrament, Sacrifice of the Mass, Worship of Images, Invocation of Saints, Justification, Satisfaction, Indulgences, the Sinlessness of any but One, is cited from Hooker (p. 3-20).
Of the Sevenfold Number of the Sacraments, Denial of the Cup, Reservation, Purgatory, Supererogation, Saint- worship, Angel- worship, Image-worship, Relic-worship, Cross-worship, Papal Supremacy and Arrogancy, Regicide, Universal Bishopric, Dispensation, Non-communicating Attendance, Incense and Lights, from Andrewes (p. 25-66).
Of Infallibility, Supremacy, Transubstantiation, Denial of the Cup, Invocation of Saints, Adoration of Images, Purgatory, from Laud (pp. 69-89).
Of the Canon of Scripture, Transubstantiation, the Mass, Elevation, Adoration of the Sacrament, Denial of the Cup, Reservation, Non-communicating Attendance, Sevenfold Number of the Sacraments, Purgatory, Saint-worship, from Cosin (p. 96-119).
Of Tradition, Universal Bishopric, Supremacy, Deposition of Kings, Transubstantiation, Adoration of the Sacrament, Denial of the Cup, Worship of Saints, Purgatory, Indulgences, Penance, Ceremonialism, Probable Opinions, Equivocation, Dispensation, Latin Language, from Jeremy Taylor (p. 124-170).
Of Papal Supremacy, the Mass, Transubstantiation, Denial of the Cup, Invocation of Saints, Mariolatry, Relic-worship, Image-worship, Indulgences, Elevation, Processions, Solitary Masses, Attrition, Ceremonialism, from Bull (p. 176-199).
Of Transubstantiation, Processions, Adoration of the Sacrament, Denial of the Cup, the Mass, Supererogation, Saint-worship, Image-worship, Relic-worship, Latin Language, Celibacy, Universal Bishopric, from Beveridge (pp. 204-219).
The seventeenth-century divines show no indifference to the falsehood of those doctrines.
4. The Objective Presence of Christ. This is the central tenet of the Neo-Anglican school improperly called Ritualistic. And the expression is not defined. It might mean simply the Presence of Christ, by His Divine Spirit, at the ordinance of the Holy Communion, in a manner even more special than He is present wherever two or three are gathered together in His Name to worship Him. So interpreted, the doctrine of the Objective Presence, or real Spiritual Presence of Christ in His Divinity, is true and commonly accepted. But this is not the sense in which the Ritualists tenet is held. Their doctrine is that Christ’s presence, and therefore Christ Himself in His Humanity and Divinity, is to be found in each piece of bread and each portion of wine that is consecrated; and that it is by the formula of consecration that Christ’s Presence and therefore Christ Himself in His Humanity and Divinity is made to enter the piece of bread and the portion of wine, less or more, that each communicant afterwards eats and drinks. It is not a Spiritual Presence in the ordinance that they mean (when they know their own meaning), but the Presence of Christ, and that not in His Divine nature only, but also in His Human nature (and therefore in His soul, bones, blood, body, and all things appertaining to man’s nature), seated in the elements in the bread separately, and in the wine separately. The necessary consequence of such a belief is the Sacrifice of the Mass, Adoration, Reservation, Non-communicating Attendance, Reception of Christ by the wicked and by animals, Procession of the Sacrament, Incense, Lights, and all the ceremonial which befits the visible, though veiled, Presence of Jesus Christ. What, then, does the historical High Church School teach on the subject of the Objective Presence of Christ in the Elements? The tenet is only intelligible when it takes the form of either Transubstantiation or Consubstantiation. The new school repudiates Consubstantiation with indignation. It would be sufficient, therefore, to cite the condemnation of Transubstantiation, which is common to all the seventeenth-century divines; but there are found in them, as well, definite denials of the dogma in its unscientific and half-developed form as the Objective Presence in the Elements.
Hooker’s words are well known: The real Presence of Christ’s most blessed body and blood is not to be sought for in the sacrament (that is, the outward sign or elements), but in the worthy receiver of the sacrament. The sacraments (elements) are not really, nor do really contain in themselves, that grace which with them or by them it pleaseth God to bestow (p. 9).
Andrewes rejects the doctrine as creating a Christ made of bread; a Deity made from the flour-mill, hiding there under the species (p. 31,51).
Cosin teaches that the Body and Blood is neither sensibly present, nor otherwise at all present, but only to those that are duly prepared to receive them, and in the very act of receiving them (p. 114).
Taylor warns us: We may not render Divine worship to Him as present in the blessed sacrament according to His human nature, because He is not there according to His human nature. We give no Divine honour to the signs; we do not call the sacrament our God. Christ left us symbols and sacraments of that natural body, not to be, or to convey, that natural body to us, but to do more and better for us, to convey all the blessings and grace procured for us by the breaking of that body and the effusion of that blood. If you can believe the bread, when it is blessed by the priest, is God Almighty, you can, if you please, believe anything else (p. 136, 141, 144).
Beveridge shows that from the truth that worthy recipients become partakers of the body and blood of Christ the devil took occasion to draw men into an opinion that the bread which is used in that sacrament is the very body that was crucified on the Cross, and the wine, after consecration, the very blood that gushed out of His pierced side. This he designates as falling into a desperate error. For this fond opinion possessing their brains, that the bread is the real body of Christ hung upon the Cross and pierced for their sins, O how zealous are they in wrapping up neatly in their handkerchiefs, laying it up in their treasuries, carrying it about in their processions, yea, and at length worshipping and adoring it, too! (p. 205).
5. The immediate consequence of the Objective Presence in the elements is the Sacrifice of the Mass; for if Christ is, or is in, the bread and the cup, and the bread and the cup are offered to God, it must be Christ that is offered. This we have seen to be universally condemned. To Hooker it is a Popish superstition. Andrewes says: We will never grant that your Christ made of bread is sacrificed there. Laud leaves the Church of Rome in this particular to her superstitions to say no more. Cosin says: He sits forever at the right hand of God; and therefore Christ can be no more offered, as the doctors and priests of the Roman party fancy Him to be. Bull declares the doctrine of the Mass to be impious, monstrous, derogatory to the one full satisfaction of Christ made by His death on the Cross, and contrary to express Scripture.
With the Mass come necessarily the ritual and the ceremonies of the Mass the bowing, the genuflecting, the kissing, the censing, the candle-lighting, the elevating, the bell-ringing, the finger-dipping, the ablution; the practices of Adoration, Reservation, Exposition, Benediction, Non-communicating Attendance, Children’s Eucharists, Solitary Masses, Procession of the Sacrament, Reception under One Kind; and the doctrine of the participation of Christ’s Body by wicked men and senseless animals. All of these are condemned by Anglican High Churchmen, as Anglican High Churchmen were. One Kind, Reservation, Non-communicating Attendance, Incense and Lights, are condemned by Andrewes (p. 33-63); One Kind, Concomitancy, the Church of Rome s Theory of Sacrifice, by Laud (pp. 84-87); Elevation, Adoration, Reservation, Exposition, Circumgestation, Non-communicating Attendance, Idle Ceremonies, some pernicious, some unnecessary, many false and many fond, by Cosin (p. 98-100); Circumgestation, Private Masses, Outward Ministry and Ceremonial, One Kind, by Taylor (p. 127, 145, 159); Elevation, One Kind, Processions, Solitary Masses, External Ceremonialism, by Bull (p. 191-197); Processions, Adoration, One Kind, by Beveridge (p. 207). Besides, says Bull, the whole administration is so clogged, so metamorphized and defaced by the addition of a multitude of ceremonies, and those some of them more becoming the stage than the Table of our Lord, that if the blessed Apostles were alive and present at the celebration of the Mass in the Roman Church, they would be amazed, and wonder what the meaning of it was. Sure I am that they would never own it to be that same ordinance which they left to the churches (p. 191).
6. The Church of England desires the most perfect openness of heart between her pastors and their people, and she recommends and advises a full confession to a person who cannot assure himself of God’s forgiveness in two cases before Holy Communion and before death. She gives no sanction to formal confession except where a man cannot persuade himself that God’s grace can extend even to him. But Ritualists, following in this particular the example and the teaching of Dr. Pusey, hold that confession is a part of the normal discipline of the Church, and of use to all who desire to grow in grace.
Hooker, on the contrary, has taught that the Confessional, as at present practised in the Church of Rome, hath made discipline for the most part among them a bare formality yea, rather a means of emboldening unto vicious and wicked life, than either any help to prevent future, or medicine to remedy present, evils in the soul of man. Of auricular or private confession, as now taught, he cries out, No, no! These opinions have youth in their countenance; antiquity knew them not; it never thought or dreamed of them (pp. 15-17).
Jeremy Taylor says that, owing to the doctrine that attrition is a sufficient disposition for a man in the Sacrament of Penance to receive absolution and be justified before God by taking away all his sins and the obligation to eternal pain … in no sect of men do they with more ease and cheapness reconcile a wicked life with the hopes of heaven than in the Roman Communion (p. 159).
Bull indignantly exclaims that, by help of attrition, the rare device of the Sacrament of Penance can reconcile men to God without them [love of God and our neighbour], and by this expedient men that have never loved God with all their hearts in all their days on earth may forever enjoy God in heaven. People may expiate their sins, at this rate of servile attrition, as often as they commit them, and so be saved without ever having loved God above all things in their lives (p. 194).
As yet, Ritualists reject the doctrine of attrition; but the same compulsion which drove the Roman doctors to invent it cannot fail in its force when confession and absolution are made a normal part of the religious life. The Roman theologians had no desire to maintain that men could be saved without the love of God, but they were obliged to substitute attrition for contrition, because they could not venture to deny that, if a man was contrite, he was at once forgiven; and then where was the necessity, for that purpose, of absolution? Absolution, when regarded as a conveyance of God’s pardon, can only be necessary when a man is not yet pardoned that is, when his sorrow does not amount to contrition, on which pardon immediately follows, but only to attrition, which is sorrow arising from fear of present or future suffering.
I believe that I have proved that the Ritualist School, in so far as they depreciate the Reformation, show tenderness to Rome, condone her false doctrines, hold the tenet of the Objective Presence in the elements, perform the rites and ceremonies thence flowing, and inculcate the practice of auricular confession as part of the normal religious life, find no justification in the teaching and acts of our seventeenth-century divines. The old historical High Church party in the Church of England is in direct conflict with the Neo-Anglicanism known as Ritualism.