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in order to become a better Parsee, a better Hindoo, a better Mohammedan.
“ The Reformers did not dream of setting up a new Church”-whatever they dreamed, or aimed at doing, they certainly succeeded in setting up a Church as different from, and as diametrically opposed to, the Church which it supplanted, as Christianity is opposed to Hindooism. They vehemently denounced the old Church as representing the very spirit of Antichrist. The purification of the temple was attained in no other way than by setting up a new temple; and had not the glory of the latter eclipsed that of the former, the condition of both Scotland and England had been indeed dark and deplorable !1
The right of separation or schism.—No true Protestant can pretend to doubt that in whatever way the breach with Rome was effected and the independence of the Church achieved, the gain which the Reformation brought to the Church and nation, as well as to the cause of truth and liberty, was beyond all computation. Darkness covered the earth and gross darkness the people, and to Luther chiefly—though others are associated with him in this proud distinction—it was given to speak the word—“Let there be light: and there was light.” Luther's “ doctrine of Christian liberty and of the common universal priesthood," as Dr. Döllinger
1 Dr. Muir is apparently content to follow his authorities without exercising his independent judgment. He quotes Dr. Story: “The Baptism and Ordination of the unreformed Church were alike held as valid. The old order changeth, yielding place to new, but there is no absolute disruption between the two-Out of the Romanist priesthood emerges the Protestant ministry.”
calls it, was bound, wherever it was embraced, to break the yoke which Rome had forged for the enslavement of the mind and conscience of men. It was this doctrine which created the strength and justification of the Protestant revolt against the Papacy. But Protestantism was only able to embody it partially in its own system and formularies. It found sovereign expression in the Puritan contention, and to its insistence upon this doctrine, and its unshrinking application of it, must be traced the beginning of the cleft between Puritanism and the Church.
The Reformation carried with it implications and conclusions which, however objectionable they might seem to the ruling powers, were logically and morally necessitated--so the Puritans believed—by the breach which had been made with Rome, and on grounds by which this schism could alone be justified. The Reformation settlement was at best a compromise, the result of statecraft and political expediency, and could not be expected to satisfy the aspirations of men who had dreamed a dream of the fair City of God, and of the Church as the pure and spotless Bride of His Son.
NOTE ON SCHISM
The word schism has acquired a somewhat sinister meaning. The “sin of schism” is a very favourite expression among a certain class of ecclesiastics, and the opprobrium which is supposed to attach to schism in any form or shape is very terrible. The sin of schism is specially visited by Anglican writers upon those who separate from the Established Church of the nation ; and their ingenuity has been strained not a little in order to show that there exists no parallel between the position of the Protestant Church of England in separat
ing from the Church of Rome, and that of the Puritan Separatists in seceding from the Church of England. 1
In “The Anglican Brief against the Roman Claims,” by the Rev. Thomas Moore and the Rev. Arthur Brinckmann, the question is asked-Are there any grounds for the argument frequently used by Nonconformists to justify their separation from the Church, which is to the effect, that their separation from the Church of England is no more than the Church of England's separation from the Church of Rome?
To this the answer is given
There are no grounds for it whatever. The statement is, in fact, untrue. There is no resemblance between the two cases, The Church of England in 1534 did not dissent nor separate herself from the historical Church of the country. She simply threw off a foreign thraldom, liberated herself from foreign tyranny, and asserted and resumed her historical freedom and her independence of the usurped supremacy of Rome. The Church of England did not, in so doing, create a new Church and a new ministry. But the case of the Nonconformists is a very different one. They dissent from, and separate themselves from, the historic Church of the kingdom. They form new religious bodies, create new ministries, and establish antagonistic centres of worship.
What these unsupported assertions come to as to the Church of England being the ancient historic Church of the kingdom we have already seen, and shall probably be able to see better by and by. It is obvious at a glance that this attempt to disprove the analogy between the two acts of separation is a mere juggling with words. Suppose we say—what is nothing but the literal truth-that the Nonconformists threw off the thraldom of the Church of England, liberated themselves from its tyranny, and resumed the ancient
1 The shifts, indeed, to which Anglican writers are driven in order to get rid of the imputation of “schism” are strange and extreme. “The attitude of our Church at the Reformation cannot indeed be too clearly or too frequently called to mind. It was not a breach or a schism that was intended. It was simply a protest. . . . The former of these two courses (the course denoted by the word protest) was chosen by the Church of England in the sixteenth century; the latter (that denoted by the word schism) by the Anabaptists and other sectaries." --Curteis' Bampton Lecture on Dissent in its Relation to the Church of England, p. 188. Could anything be more inconsequential?
independence which had been bequeathed to them by our Lord and His apostles—what becomes of the alleged difference between them?
Certainly, if the Church of England did not create a new Church and a new ministry when she broke with the Church of Rome, then the Nonconformists did not create a new Church and a new ministry when they broke off from the Church of England.
The following words from the Spectator newspaper, in reply to a letter from a correspondent on “Schism and the English Reformation,” should carry some weight upon this question. “The English Church broke off doctrinally from Rome as well as politically. We do not understand the dread felt of the word schism' where there is no fear of the thing. If Rome were wrong both politically and doctrinally, then the schism was right, but it was schism all the same. If Rome were right, then the schism was wrong; but whether right or wrong, the breaking off from Rome was schism.”Ed. Spectator, Dec. 24, 1892.
NOTES ON CONTINUITY OF THE CHURCH We are well aware that the theory of the identity of the postReformation and pre-Reformation Church can plead the sanction and authority of not a few eminent names -W. E. Gladstone, the historian Freeman, Dean Hook, J. A. Blunt, and a host of Anglican writers; but no authority and no consensus of authority can avail to establish what is so manifestly opposed to the logic of fact and evidence.
Most conclusively we think Mr. Child has shown, in his impartial and careful study of Church and State under the Tudors, 1 that there was not and could not, from the nature of the then existing circumstances, be anything that answered to the designation of a national Church up to the time of the breach with Rome under Henry VIII. The series of measures culminating in the Act of Appeals and the Act of Supremacy, which were passed at the instance of Henry,
1 Church and State under the Tudors, by Gilbert W. Child, M.A., Exeter College, Oxford (Longmans, Green, & Co.). A most valuable work, based upon
“State papers, ambassadors' letters, and other original documents which were formerly too little known”. altogether indispensable to the careful and impartial study of this period.
made the Church in England a national Church. But at the same time that it became national it became schismatical, for then and there it was cast off and excommunicated by the Church of Rome.
“It was just because the Church in England was not in truth the Church of England, but was an organic portion of the one great Western Church ... that it was enabled to occupy the position of independence, and sometimes almost of supremacy, in which we find it. . . . Had the Church been in truth the Church of England, it would have been a mere imperium in imperio, and would never have been able to hold its own generation after generation and century after century against the State, often represented by powerful and able monarchs, such as Henry II. or Edward III. It was just because it was not the Church of England, but a mere extension into England of the powerful Western Church, having its rights and its interests and its officers in every nation, and its independent seat of empire at Rome, and thus enabled to enlist one nation against another, or a nation against its own rulers, that it became in a greater or less degree, and for periods varying in different countries, independent of the State and a rival of the State.” 1
“It is difficult to study the actual facts of sixteenth-century history, putting apart preconceived ecclesiastical theories, without arriving at the conclusion that the English National Church was as completely the creation of Henry VIII., Edward's Council, and Elizabeth, as Saxon Protestantism was of Luther, or Swiss of Calvin or of Zwingle.2 ... A fair consideration of the actual facts of the Tudor history serves further to show that a theory like that which prevails so widely at present—which represents the English Church in any other light than that of one (though it may, perhaps, be admitted, the greatest and the most dignified) of the many Protestant Churches which arose in the sixteenth century-is a novelty which took its very earliest rise some half-century or more after the separation from Rome, as a direct consequence of Elizabeth's determination to give no quarter to the earlier Puritans, and which made little or no progress for another half-century still.” 3
Thus we see that the Church in England was in every sense a daughter of the Church of Rome. And notwithstanding the great
1 See pp. 10, 11.
2 P. 272.
Pp. 273, 274. Those who wish to see how this view of the Church of England appears to the present accredited organs of the High Church party, will do well to consult an article in the Contemporary Review, November 1892, by Mr. Child.