1 SEPTEMBER 1917, Page 11

[To THE EDITOR or VHS SPECTATOR."1 Sta,—As one who enjoys

and admires the Spectator, may I say how mach I regret your attitude towards the " Life and Liberty Movement " in the Church of England? Your theory of a Church which ib co-extensive with the nation is only justifiahle on the hypothesis that the nation is definitely and explicitly Christian, and that her laws are framed in accordance with the teaching of Christ. This would be an unduly optimistic assumption. The one argument which is-never used in Parliament is the argument from religion; there is already a divergence between State law and Church law inehe case of the Deceased Wife's Sister Act; and it seems probable that there will be a much more serious split on the queetiou of divorce. In these conditions a " Church," such as you conceive, ceases to have auy right to the name. For surely the Church is essentially a society formed with the one specific object of extending the Kingdom of Christ, and, as such, it is, to say the least, auctrualous that her supreme authority should be an assembly such as Parliament; whose members need -not necessarily believe iu Christ at all. Your citation of Jeremy Taylor does not appear to strengthen your case: " the Church," you say that he says in effect, " should include all those who except. the Apostles' Creed." Possibly so; but what guarantee have we that the majority of the members of the House of Commons accept it? With the abolition of religious tests for Members of Parliament, the principle of State control ceases to be even theoretically defensible.

But on practical grounds the argument for self-government is even more overwhelming; for State control meanie that the Church succumbs to the very danger against which her Founder so insistently warned her—that of lowering her standards to conform with tko human society in which she lived. She was to be, He told her, in the world, not of it; she was to he like salt, leaven, fire—objects whose essence is to influence their surroundings; and she was to be careful leek, instead of changing the world, the world should change her. And what inevitably happens in a State- controlled Church is that she becomes of the world; her standards are levelled down to those of the human society. "Inevitably," I say, because Parliament in a democratic country represents the will of the average Man—which is the last thing that the Church can ever represent. Either she stands for the will of God, or she is like salt that has lost its savour, and is fit only to be cast out . and trodden underfoot.—I am, Sir, Sc.,