25 MARCH 1882, Page 14


[TOTEM EDITOR OF THE "SPECTATOR.'.] Sia,—The Bishop of Manchester has done me the honour, in a letter to you, to notice some words of mine,—" Through his. [Mr. Green's] imprisonment, the Church of England will, I trust, be freed." I hoped that my meaning would be plain, from the subject of my letter,—Mr. Green's imprisonment. I did not say free, but freed; freed, I meant, from such a Court as I had described, a Court well fitted for Admiralty and Bank- ruptcy causes, for which I believe it was framed, but utterly unfitted for Ecclesiastical causes, for which its author, Lord Brougham, said that it was never intended ; a Court which the Bishops, almost to a man, tried to displace thirty years ago, but were defeated; a Court which has treated grave matters of doctrine as open questions, and two of whose decisions were protested against by 11,000 clergy.

However, Bishop Fraser likens my desire of freedom to that. of the Israelites under the Judges, when "every one did that which was right in his own eyes," and asks,—" Has it occurred to those who yearn for that kind of freedom, to consider how long it is probable that the Church of England, as an ordered and organised society, would live to enjoy it P" With the exception of the ritual prohibited by this Court of Appeal, I should have thought that the condition of the English Clergy was already very like that which the Bishop deprecates. According to the successive judgments of the Court of Appeal,. it is lawful to deny an article of the Creed, "One Baptism for the remission of sins," to deny Hell and the inspiration of Holy Scripture ; but woe to the man who wears a vestment, such as a rubric in the Prayer-book directs ; or who mingles a little water with the wine at Holy Communion, as our Lord did. No matter if he have all his congregation with him ; if there be found three in the parish who never worship there to delete him, he may, under a Bishop whose sympathies are supposed to be with our most liberal theology, be cast into prison, there to remain until he deny the principles for which he was im- prisoned, and obey a secular Court, affirming white to be black.

The Bishop agrees with the ancient philosopher, "Ne quid nimis ;" only, the " nimis " is what exceeds the decision of the secular Court, which overrules as to ritual a direction of our Prayer-book. In the so-called Synod which the Bishop held to promulgate a dictum as to ritual, the authority to which submission was required was not the less manifestly the decision of the secular Court, because its name was not mentioned. As the Times, in its way, says of my friends, "They [cannot but] peep behind the lawn sleeves, and profess to discover Lord Penzance in disguise, [the Times adds," in the garb of an angel of light"]. There was no other ground to make what happens to be the wont of the Cathedral, negatively, the rule for the diocese than that it recommended itself to the mind of the Bishop. The dictum which he promulgated seems to be more like one of Cardinal Bonnechose than the ordinary language of an English Bishop. Sic vo/o, tic jubeo. But the cathedral was only a rule which was not to be exceeded ; it was not a model to be acted up to. Any negligence might be tolerated, only not excess. Surtout, point de zele.

You, Sir, will not agree with my point of view ; but you have shown that you know how to be generous towards those from whom you differ; and I am answering the appeal made to me by Bishop Fraser. As a looker-on, I have long watched this fierce conflict. My own conviction has long been that the hope of the Church of England is in mutual tolerance. In the Judge- made law of a secular Court, almost every attempt to enforce discipline has ended in its relaxation. Thirty years ago, we anticipated great evil from this ignorant miscarriage of justice. By God's mercy, it did not ensue. Magna est veritas, and not only will it prevail, but it has prevailed. The faith which the Gorham judgment contradicted has grown so as scarcely to be doubted by any. That word of God has been fulfilled, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts." The Church has had to fight without discipline, enforced by rightly-constructed and right-minded Courts ; but God will be, I trust, as he has been, "a wall of fire round about her, and the glory in the midst of her." Truth has grown, while its out- works have been broken down.—I am, Sir, &c.,