MR. BALDWIN BROWN AND THE ESTABLISHMENT.
[TO TEl EDITOR OP THR " SPHOTATOR."]
SIR,—Perhaps the best answer which I can make to your remark that I appreciate but feebly the spiritual life of the Anglican Church, will be a quotation from the last lecture which I delivered on a " Liberation " platform, before an enthusiastically Noncon- formist audience. I had quoted Heine's withering denunciation of the Establishment principle. After some comment on the bitterness of its tone, I added, "that it has not been the unmiti- gated curse which Heine describes is due to influences which he had no eye to discern and no heart to appreciate,—the great body of pious, faithful, devoted servants of their fellow-men for the Lord's sake which, in these later times especially, but in a measure in all times, the Anglican Church has included within its pale." I could largely multiply such quotations, were there need. I hardly yield even to you in admiration for the Bishop of Man- chester. I have said again and again, both in public and in private, that such Bishops are incomparably the strongest sup- port of Establishment, in such days as these. But I confess to what you are pleased to call " fanaticism "—though I hope that there is brain enough in it to redeem it from that
designation—against the principle of Establishment, for I am deeply convinced that the lordships and dignities, the
wealth and the splendour, the legal exactions and enforce- ments which are inseparable from its working, have been in all ages and are still among the gravest hindrances to the pro- gress of Christian truth. You find some inconsistency between my denunciation of this principle and my notice of the absence of a brotherly welcome from the Episcopal ministers of Liverpool. I see none. I grieve over the " Establishment of religion," because it seems to me almost necessarily to forbid that cordial brotherly recognition of the Christian work of sister-Churches, which would be one of the most helpful influences on the work of the kingdom of Christ in our midst which it would be possible to conceive. But the ministers of the Church of England are none the less bound to make the recognition, and to pay the debt of charity to their brethren outside the Established pale.
I think that your usual keenness of discernment failed you for the moment, when you wrote of the Church of David as Esta- blished. I entirely deny that there was a State Church in Israel. There was a Church-State, and that is quite another matter. There was nothing there that could speak of itself as the Church, apart from the body of the people. The prelatic and sacerdotal elements, as we know them in Christendom, were conspicuously absent ; the prophetical, in all the higher rule and guidance of the nation, was supreme. Their King wrote for the people—the king- dom of priests, the holy nation—their glorious liturgy, their King offered for the people at the consecration of the Temple the sublimest prayer that was ever breathed from mere human lips. Solomon, it is true, invested religion with that material pomp and splendour which the Church has aimed at in all the Christian ages ; but the warning against it in H. Samuel, vii., is deeply significant, as is the fact that from the hour of that splendid investiture of religion, which the champions of Establishment should regard as its crown of honour, the history of the Church- State is declension, rupture, and decay.
The Church Establishment of John Knox I am quite content to dissent from. It was an attempt to reproduce a Jewish insti- tution under Christian conditions, and it wholly failed to compre- hend the nature of the institution which it sought to restore. Divine truth is a light by which rulers and subjects and mankind at large may see the path of duty, and walk boldly and intelli- gently therein. The business of the Church—rather let me say, the Churches—is to receive and to radiate this light, with the
utmost simplicity and purity, and then to trust it to do its work. When they undertake to do the work of ruling, they break their Lord's commission, and inevitably develop in the end a spiritual tyranny ; and that is the most cruel and hateful of all the tyrannies which have tormented the world.—I am, Sir, &c„ J. BALDwfx Buowx.