27 MAY 1882, Page 9


IT is not always easy to understand the policy pursued by the Ritualist party in the Church of England. We are not now thinking of their refusal to recognise the judgments of the Temporal Courts, even when these judgments have reference to the conditions on which the temporalities of a benefice may be enjoyed. Their attitude in this respect is at least intelligible. They hold views as to the position of the Church of England towards the State which, if they were well founded, would justify them in resisting the action of the Temporal Courts as an unwarranted intrusion upon sacred things. What is strange is the affection which the Ritualists show for the very Courts whose jurisdiction they deny. When once a suit has been instituted against a Ritualist incumbent, it turns up in one tribunal after another, as though the defendant were loth to lose sight of the puzzled faces of secular Judges confronted by points of ecclesiastical ceremonial. If the Temporal Courts have no jurisdiction in spiritual matters, why apply to one of them to upset the decree of another? The case of " Enraght v. Lord Penzance and John Perkins " is an example of this common tendency. Mr. Perkins, being at that time Churchwarden of Mr. Enraght's parish, and acting in his official capacity, accused his Vicar of fourteen separate Eccle- siastical offences, and among others of having worn, or per- mitted to be worn, an alb, a chasuble, and a biretta. Lord Penzance decided that Mr. Enraght had committed all the fourteen offences charged against him, and admonished him to abstain from them, " and also from all practices, acts, matters, and things of the same or a like nature." Mr. Enraght, of course, took no notice of this monition, and by-and-by he was inhibited, on account of this disobedience, from perform- ing any service or exercising cure of souls within the diocese. Mr. Enraght went on performing service as usual, and was there- upon pronounced guilty of contumacy, and committed to prison. Mr. Enraght then applied to the Court of Queen's Bench for a writ of Habeas Corpus, and for a writ prohibiting Lord Penzance from proceeding further in the matter of the inhi- bition. The Court of Queen's Bench rejected both applica- tions, and the case was then carried to the Court of Appeal. There Mr. Enraght was partially successful, for he got his discharge from custody. But he did not succeed in getting the inhibition set aside, and considering the nature of the plea set out, we can feel neither surprise nor regret that he failed. It seems that besides the fourteen unlawful acts of which Mr. Enraght had been guilty in the performance of divine service, he had also committed a fifteenth. Besides wearing an alb, a chasuble, and a biretta, he had also worn a stole. When the application was made for an inhibition, the promoter forgot that no mention had been made of the stole in the earlier stages of the case, and Lord Penzance forgot it too. The consequence was that the inhibition was issued on the ground, not only that Mr. Enraght had disobeyed the monition by wearing a biretta, but also on the ground that he had dis- obeyed the monition by wearing a stole. The practised in- genuity of Mr. Arthur Charles and Mr. Walter Phillimore at once seized upon this supposed flaw, and it has Been repeatedly and gravely contended on behalf of Mr. Enraght that a moni- tion to abstain from unlawful vestment A, and " from all practices of the same or of a like nature," is not disobeyed by wearing unlawful vestment B. The Court of Appeal decided that whether a stole was or was not " of the same or of a like nature " with a biretta was a question within the discretion of the Judge, so that even though another Court might be of opinion that Lord Penzance had failed to make a proper distinction between the two vestments, it ought not to set aside the inhibition pronounced by him. Mr. Enraght then carried his case to the House of Lords, and on Monday, Lord Blackburn, Lord Watson, and Lord Bramwell dismissed his appeal, with costs. Lord Blackburn's judgment not only confirms the view of Lord Penzance's dis- cretion taken in the Court below, but points out that even

if Mr. Enraght was wrongly inhibited for disobeying the monition by wearing a biretta, " he has committed at least five complete, separate acts of disobedience, any one of which would have justified an order to inhibit for the full period of three months."

It seems to us that by prosecuting appeals of this frivolous character, the Ritualists simply damage their own cause. Their strength lies in the contention that they have been forbidden to perform divine service in a way which they think right, and which their congregations like, in deference to objections raised by another party in the Church, which is itself left per- fectly free to perform service in the way which its members think right, and which its congregations like. While upon all other matters the limits of toleration in the Church of Eng- land have been steadily growing wider, the limits of tolera- tion as regards ceremonial have of late years been immensely narrowed. This contention stands altogether apart from any disputes as to the jurisdiction of the Temporal Courts or as to the technical correctness of any particular decision. It is equally valid, whether you regard Lord Penzance as a lawful Ecclesiastical Judge, or as an interloper who holds his place by the wicked connivance of the Archbishops. It is equally valid, whether you view the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as a proper Court of Final Appeal in Ecclesiastical Causes, or hold that these causes ought to be decided by a purely spiritual tribunal. But though the force of the contention is not abated by the line taken by the Ritualists, it is certainly obscured. Instead of presenting themselves in what we honestly believe to be their true character—a party pleading for legal toleration in the Established Church—they appear as mere quibblers, desperately catching at every tuft of legal grass that can by possibility delay their descent into the abyss of submission or deprivation. This is not a happy light for a religious party to be seen in, and these multiplied resistances to decrees which, after all, do but carry out the existing law, are not calculated to help the Ritualists in getting the exist- ing law altered. What we are more concerned, how- ever, to urge is, that though the Ritualists are ill-advised in the line they have themselves chosen to follow, the force of their plea for toleration is not thereby diminished. The politician, as such, has no business to have any opinion as to the relative merits of one party or another in the Established Church. The work that he has to do—sup- posing him to think that the maintenance of a religious Establishment is, for whatever reason, a good thing for the country—is simply to see that no party is driven out from it. Sometimes this work is done for him by the Courts of Law. The judgment of the Privy Council in the Gorham case kept a place for the Evangelical party in the Church ; the judg- ment of the same tribunal in the Bennett case kept a place for the Ritualist party in their character of teachers. If the judgment in the Ridsdale case had kept a place for the Ritual- ists in their character of performers of divine service, there would have been no need for the politician to intervene. But the effect of the Ridsdale judgment must, in the end. be the same as the effect of the Gorham and Bennett judgments would have been, if they had gone the other way. Mr. Gorham's deprivation must have driven out the Evangelicals, Mr. Bennett's deprivation must have driven out the Sacra- mentalists; and now, Mr. Green's deprivation must, if pushed to its legitimate consequences, drive out the Ritualists. That is a result which all who care for the maintenance of the Esta- blished Church, and wish, ecclesiastically speaking, to leave things as they are, will desire to prevent by every means in their power; and no amount of unwisdom on the part of the Ritualists, however provoking it may be to those who wish to befriend them, ought to blind politicians to the importance of the question really at stake.