3 SEPTEMBER 1898, Page 15

[To THE EDITOR OF THE "SPECTATOR. "] SIR,—I should wish to

apologise to Canon MacColl if I mis-

• anderstood his first letter. I took him to be defending sacerdotalism " on the ground of its being simply a form of spiritual influence exercised by the Christian ministry. While fully admitting the value and importance of that ministry as a matter of order in the Church, I did not recognise a difference of kind (as he does) between such influence as exercised by a cleryman or by a layman. It is not, I would submit, in either case the messenger who .operates, but the message. Nor can the message, whether delivered intentionally, or conventionally, operate without the consent of the will of the person to whom it is addressed. No Church, as the Canon truly affirms, teaches that doctrine. But the danger of the "official" claim to remit sins lies in the popular mind, ever ready to substitute escape from the penalty of sin for deliverance from its power, and to seek the former from the priest rather than the latter from God.