5 JUNE 1909, Page 16

(To TUR EDITOR Or TUN "SPECTATOR."] Sin,—It is difficult, if

one has the most glimmering sense of humour, to repress a smile at the excitement shown by some of your clerical correspondents lest their rights as excom- municators of unconfirmed persons should be interfered with. They write loftily of their powers, and as though you were heading a conspiracy to deprive them of them. But as a matter of fact these powers exist only on paper, except in a few exceptional cases where people brought their excommuni- cation upon themselves by their communicativeness. And even then, thoughin one parish a Dissenter might be rejected, in another he would be welcomed. As a general rule, any one may come to the Communion in the Church of England. In spite of rubrics, it is practically free and open to all persons not openly accused of immorality who may choose to come. No one has ever asked me officially whether I have been confirmed, and I am sure no one ever will. And if any inquisi- tive clergyman had made such an inquiry, aud I had declined to gratify his curiosity, what would lie have done then ? Being provided with no legalised racks and thumbscrews,

neither he nor his Bishop could extort a confession from me; neither, without one, could he deprive me (even in a particular parish) of any Sacramental privileges I might wish to claim. Such "discipline" as these clerics boast of is non- existent in the English Church. Rome may still possess it, and it is strictly exercised by the exclusive Plymouth Brethren. But for the Anglican clergy to claim such powers is a mere pretence. It sounds imposing, but is based on no practical reality at all. One may well wonder how long English Churchmen will allow antiquated rubrics to lend verbal support to contentions thus fought in the air, and how long a rite which is nothing if not a bond of peace may be wrangled over and distorted by scholastic bigots. It seems as though they were trying all they knew to drag down this beautiful and sacred ordinance, in the minds of thoughtful people, to a Nelluslitan.—I am, Sir, &c., C. S.