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the Church, which is often expressed by some members of the Committee, influences the tone of their Report. Naturally, those to whom the very idea of a national Church is repugnant see the difficulties of Church and State through a magnifying glass.
Those who formulated the reference were inspired with a larger and nobler conception, which was briefly described by Archbishop Benson when he said, 'The English Church must be the religious organ of the English people.' His lifelong friend, Bishop Westcott, used the same image on a memorable occasion: *
'If the National Church ceases to be national-national as accepting the pastorate of the whole people, and expressing generally their spiritual convictions-no other Communion can take its place. No other organ can be found through which the nation can declare its faith.'
The same thought is expressed by Mr Fawkes:
'A Church rests upon a broader basis [than a sect]. It is established not because it teaches a particular theology, or possesses a particular succession, but because it represents the best mind and conscience of the community--the working, in philosophical language, of Reason, in religious language, of the Spirit, in the world and among men.' †
What is involved in Bishop Westcott's axiom that the National Church must express generally the spiritual convictions of the whole people'? A conception of the Universal Church as vital rather than mechanical in its unity; a picture of the Churches in the several nations as a family of brothers, differing much among themselves, but all bearing the essential features which proclaim their origin; a conviction that a national Church may express the religious character of one nation without ceasing to be a member of the mystical body of Christ, which is the blessed company of all faithful people.' The Church of England, then, mustas Archbishop Benson implied-represent the Christianity of the whole nation, including that part of it which is beyond her formal boundaries. Her position
Albert Hall meeting (1893). See 'Christian Aspects of Life,' p. 62.
of privilege is a trust on behalf of all English Christians,* for she is maintained in that position by the one body which is authorised to speak for them all.
If we recognise that as a true description of a national Church, we shall feel the unfairness of the Report in some of its references (e.g. p. 26) to Parliament and to other instruments by which the State exercises control. Parliament is not wholly made up of Christians, nor are its members often elected upon religious issues. Yet it is really representative of the whole people in its attitude to religion. Busy, ill-informed about many details, and impatient of technicalities, it is not unfriendly to the national Church. Its failure to satisfy her needs is due neither to ill-will nor to incompetence, and only in part to lack of time. The principal fault lies at another door. Churchmen, having no council of their own in which they can discuss and agree upon a programme, hold their debates in Parliament, which is confused by their dissensions, and bored by the partial and timid character of the reforms which are put forward by some, only to be opposed by others. Even under present conditions a united Church could obtain a large measure of its desires by the old methods.
The State exercises control also by means of Crown patronage and the Courts of Law. Though it makes no definite proposals for abolishing these, the Report disparages them, and fails to acknowledge the benefits which the Church has derived from them. Prime Ministers have shown themselves wiser patrons of bishoprics, for instance, than any synod, caring more for character and ability and less for considerations of party. And the final Court of Appeal, by protecting representatives of each Church party in turn † from the tyranny of a passing majority, has preserved for our Church a freedom of thought and a variety of temperament which make her the envy of other communions. Yet the Report implies that this lay Court of Appeal is a clog upon spiritual liberty. Careful readers will insist upon a definition of the liberty which the authors desire.
That is why it is wrong to require 'Qualified electors' to declare that they do not belong to any religious body which is not in communion with the Church of England.' Report, p. 41.
E.g. the Gorham case, the Burnett case, the Wilson case.
For some of us, remembering what fruits of ecclesiastical liberty, when unchecked by any State law, were tasted by Roger Bacon, Savonarola and John Huss, Colenso and Robertson Smith, may well feel that they had 'rather bear the ills we have, than fly to others that we know not of.' Nevertheless the ills we have' are many and serious. Even the incomplete catalogue which is implied in the third and fourth sections of the Report must appeal to any fair-minded reader. But the case is, in fact, so much stronger that some attempt should be made to present it as a whole, though in a bare outline.
First, then, as to Doctrine. The 39 Articles,' the Report tells us (p. 21), 'constitute, together with the Prayer-book, the formal statement of the Church of England's teaching as recognised by the State.' In other words, the tenure of benefices legally depends upon adherence to the standard of doctrine there set forth; and any open deviation from that standard renders a clergyman liable to penalties. Now, the Prayer-book and the Articles are virtually the same as those which were published in 1563 by the Convocations, which have ever since rested from constructive labours. So there are the arrears of 350 years to make up. During that interval a whole new world of thought has come into our possession. The conceptions of the universe, of God's providence, of the Bible, of man's nature and history, which are now taken for granted by all educated Christians alike, are so different from those which were held by the subjects of Queen Elizabeth that the few who now read the Articles feel like explorers in a strange country, even if they trust the guidance of those textbooks which labour to explain away their obvious meaning.
Suppose such a reader turns for comfort to the Prayerbook. Unless his eyes are sealed by custom, he will find many fresh puzzles there. The first ground assigned for Baptism is the story of Noah's Ark. The marriage service holds up the union of Abraham and Sarah as a model, forgetting apparently that Abraham was not only polygamous but deliberately allowed his wife to be taken into the harem of Abimelech. The daily services describe the King's authority in language which, however well suited to Henry VIII, is little better than
mockery when applied to a constitutional monarch. Printed in the morning service, for frequent use, is the Athanasian Creed, whose damnatory clauses so revolt the modern conscience that even its warmest advocates are forced to pretend that they do not mean what they say.
The need of revision is urgent. It is no mere academic question. From all sides, especially from the soldiers, whose minds the military chaplains are exploring, there comes a demand for a plain statement of what the Church really teaches. Within the last few months the Bishops of Oxford and Peterborough have published two admirable little books in answer to the demand. Each of them tells the plain man what the Church really teaches. Unfortunately their statements differ from each other almost as much as they do from the Articles. And, even if they were in agreement, their joint authority could not commit the Church as a whole. Neither could Convocation, if some miracle were to rouse it from its dreams to face realities. Nothing will now satisfy which does not proceed from a really representative body, representing the laity as well as the clergy.
Next, as to Worship. Quite apart from difficulties of doctrine, it has long been apparent that the forms of the Prayer-book are unsuited to the great majority of worshippers. Educated Churchmen, familiar with its language from childhood, enjoy the stately beauty of its archaic style; but to nine-tenths of our population it is almost as much a foreign tongue as Latin. And, if the poor man masters the language, he finds a fresh obstacle in the substance. Since the reign of Elizabeth the face of English society has completely changed. The bulk of the population belong to classes which did not then exist; but in the unchanging order of daily prayer there is no recognition of their problems, their needs, their temptations. There are no prayers for soldiers and sailors and men employed in dangerous trades, none for those who work in mines or factories, none for the Empire or even for foreign missions. A pervading feudalism puzzles the plain man; the unchristian tone of many psalms shocks him; the morality of some ill-chosen lessons makes him wonder. And suppose a stranger comes to the service-such a man as the Church wants
to win-how will he be affected? Why should access to the Christian fold be made harder by the double fence of Elizabethan language and ancient Hebrew morality?
Such arguments have been repeated year after year without effect.* Meanwhile earnest parish priests have been introducing irregular services (often unwisely and often in defiance of authority) in hopes of helping such as cannot use the Prayer-book. But now there sounds a new voice which cannot fail to be heard. Two of the books named at the head of this article are written by chaplains at the Front. Good men and true, of different theological schools, they have learned by a unique experience to see the Prayer-book through the eyes of the average man. This is how an open-minded High Churchman sums up his impressions:
'The Prayer-book as it stands is a volume that serves only those who are highly instructed in the Faith.... Hardly a soldier carries a Prayer-book, because there is little in it he can use. We never guessed of old how removed it was from common wants; nor how intellectual are its prayers and forms of devotion. Its climate to the simple ardent Christian is often ice.' (The Church in the Furnace,' p. 184.)
So chaplain after chaplain protests that our services must be recast if they are ever to become the prayers of the people. If any man still doubts the need of reforms in the constitution of the Church, let him learn from these books-and there are many of them-how the millions hunger for worship which they can understand; and then turn to those timid and trivial suggestions for amendment, which the Convocation of Canterbury has recently published † as the fruit of seven years' discussion.
To turn next to Discipline. The doctrine of the Church being so uncertain and her forms of worship so little suited to men's needs, there is little wonder that many of the clergy have taken lines of their own. Discipline has almost disappeared. Moreover, the Church Courts are so constituted that bishops are reluctant to appeal to them; and, until a court has given a decision, the
*See reports of the Church Congress, 1902, pp. 112-115; 1903, pp. 155–168. Royal Letters of Business. Resolutions of the Joint Committee.'