Pamphlet No. 1. The Laymen's League of the Church of the Province of New Zealand,
Commonly called "The Laymen's League."
(Being a Paper read at a Meeting of Members of the League and other Churchmen, held at the Lecture Hall of the Y.M.C. Association Rooms, Auckland, Thursday, June 24th, 1909.)
Objects of the League.
(A.) The Association of Lay Churchmen within the Diocese of Auckland for the purpose of Defending the Rights of the Laity against the encroachments of Ecclesiasticism in matters appertaining to Church Government and Church Ritual. (B). To Educate, by means of Literature, Lectures, and open Discussion, the Church people of the Diocese regarding the Dangerous Character of the Romeward Movement within the Church. (C). To devise and make known among Churchmen an Effective Mode for restraining and dealing with the evils referred to in "A" and "B."
Officers of the League, 1909-10.
President: (Not yet appointed).
Vice-Presidents: Dr. R. Bedford, Messrs. R. Cameron, J. Dawson, R. C. Carr, Jno. Smyth, R. T. Warnock, T. C. Williams.
Members of Council: Dr. R. Bedford (V.P.), W. Birss, E. W. Burton, R. Cameron (V.P.), J. Dawson (V.P.), R. R. Hunt, T. H. Marshall, S. Rollinson, H. Symons and W. J. Speight (Chairman). Hon. Treasurer : S. L. Abbott.
Hon. Secretary: J. A. Warnock.
Applications for Membership of the League may be made through any present member, or may be sent addressed to "J. A. Warnock, Hon. Secretary, Box 418, G.P.O." All persons, upon joining, are required to sign the following
Declaration :—"I hereby declare that I am a Member of the Church of the Province of New Zealand, commonly called 'The Church of England,' and that I am in agreement with and accept the 'Objects' of the Laymen's League above set out as the basis of my membership of the League."
The Annual Subscription is nominal, each member fixing the amount himself.
Donations are solicited from members and others wishing to help the Literature Fund of the League. There will be need of a constant use of the printing press, which will entail heavy charges against the Council. Many persons, while not becoming members of the League, may desire to assist in this direction. They are invited to do so.
Communications of a confidential character should be addressed to "The Chairman of the Council, Box No. 418, G.P.O., Auckland"; other letters to the "Hon. Secretary."
What the League implies.
With a full sense of the gravity of their action, certain members of the Church, resident in the Diocese of Auckland, have founded "The Laymen's League of the Church of the Province of New Zealand, "with the purpose, if so desired, of extending its operations beyond the Diocese. In taking this decisive step, they fully realise that the establishment of such a Society raises great issues, which are connected with the most serious aspect of man's life, his attitude towards his Creator and his Redeemer. The existence of the League is the outcome, on the one hand, of dissatisfaction with the government of the Church and with the conduct of Divine Service; on the other hand, of disgust and alarm on the part of many of the most loyal sons of the Church at the open attempt now being made by many of the superior and inferior clergy in England, and in some of the colonies, to restore doctrines and practices of which our National Church was purged at the time of the Reformation, because "they much blinded the people and obscured the Glory of God."
While the Council of the League have had constantly before them that sense of responsibilty which compels them to discharge what they believe to be their duty to themselves, their children, and their country, they have been unmindful neither of the respect they hold to the high officers of the Church, nor of the charity which is due to the honest convictions or to the ignorant prejudices of fellow churchmen, with which they expect to be brought into conflict. Above and beyond all things, they seek to govern and control their own conduct in such direction and fashion as may secure the blessing of Our Heavenly Father.
The Council consider it due to all members of the Church that a clear statement should be made, both of the causes which called the League into existence and of the policy which it purposes to pursue. For the Church of England has entered on what may prove to be an extended period of unrest and danger, because of the present movement to undo the main work of the Reformation, which has received countenance and encouragement from those in high places.
Some Aspects of the Present Position in England.
For the edification of our fellow churchmen, we find it incumbent upon us to refer at some length to the present trouble within the Church; and first of all, we purpose setting forth for their consideration a summary of information on the subject of the Mass Vestments, which form the most important element in the controversy of the present day. It is well that our people should have the fullest and most page 4 accurate information about their history and significance, and to that end it will be necessary that our remarks should assume a historical character. We hold that there is ample reason for entering on such a discussion, not only because of the attitude of indifference taken up by so many people to-day on the subject of unauthorised vestments, but because it has been quietly assumed in certain quarters that the Laity of our Church have tacitly acquiesced in their adoption. We have been recently told on high authority, that at the present time in England "No one cares a snap of the fingers about the subject of Ritual." Now, while we know this statement to be absolutely inaccurate as regards the Old Country, we are painfully aware that in our own land the subject does not receive the attention it should, owing to want of knowledge of the real significance of some Ritualistic practices. People frequently say, "What does it matter what the parson puts on or off during the Services in the Church? The extraordinary millinery they use is just a fad of the younger Clergy, and can do us no harm. Of course they look absurd, cutting such antics in such garbs; but if they choose to make fools of themselves, what is that to us?" This carelessness on the part of the Laity springs from want of information about the hidden meaning of these vestments; and their adoption is becoming more general, owing to the prevailing apathy of our people. If vestments had no doctrinal significance, indifference might be excused in the Laity. But, surely, it is no time for indifference when garments are being openly paraded which are typical of doctrines false to the principles of our Church. For the Clergy, who assume these vestments, do so because they hold that a priest so habited, instead of commemorating with his people Our Lord's death in the Sacrament of Holy Communion, is discharging the office of a sacrificing priest, who can, by power inherent to his Order, perform the miracle of transforming material bread and wine into the material Body and Blood of Our Lord, which he presumes to offer in sacrifice to God as a propitiation for the sins of the people.
View of those who use the Vestments.
If it is desired to know the meaning of the chasuble and the other vestments, we appeal to the declarations of those who wear them, and of those who want them. The dress is connected with the doctrine of Transubstantiation, i.e., the presence of Christ's material body in the Sacrament, with a propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of the living and the dead, with the offering of it to Almighty God by the sacerdos, or sacrificing priest. These are the three ideas which invest the dress of the priest with a symbolism which no man can consider innocent or uncontroversial. As history shows, the acceptance of doctrine by the Church of Rome was in two advancing stages. The first at the Council of Lateran, in 1215, when the word "Transubstantiation" was sanctioned, and the second at the Council of Trent, in 1545-63, where the doctrine of the Lateran Council was finally inserted as an article of faith page 5 to be rejected on peril of salvation. That the dress is associated with the doctrine is proved by two most impressive functions. The first is Ordination. The very words used at the ordination by the Bishop when he blesses the ordinand as he assumes the chasuble are: "The blessing of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit descend upon thee, and may thou be blessed in the sacerdotal order and offer propitiatory sacrifices for the sins and offences of the people!" After the chasuble has been placed on the shoulders of the newly-ordained priest, his hands are anointed with Holy Oil, so that he may consecrate "Hosts, which are offered for the sins and negligences of the people." The Council of Trent pronounces that, in connection with the Sacrifice of the Mass, the Church employs "Mystic benedictions, lights, incense, vestments, whereby the majesty of so great a Sacrifice may be recommended." The other function referred to is called "Degradation;" the form to which Cranwell was subjected. It consists in the un-doing in revolting detail of every solemnity connected with the Ordination of a Priest. He is stripped of all his Mass Vestments, one by one, and then declared to be "incapable of celebrating the Mass." There can be, therefore, no possible doubt as to the significance attached to the vestments as ordered in the Roman Church.
View of those who want to use them.
So much for those who in an alien Church wear the vestments; let us now turn to those who in our own Church want them. Lord Halifax, the mouthpiece of the Ritualistic propaganda in the Church in England, with whose name and sacerdotal teaching we purpose making the readers of future publications of the League thoroughly familiar, has declared that "Our Communion Office is and will continue to be the Mass in Masquerade, till it is performed with all the externals accustomed to be used in the rest of the Western Church," meaning, of course, the Church of Rome.
History of the Chasuble.
It is a historical fact that the coat known as "the chasuble" was, in former days, the regular "overall" worn by the ordinary poor of the South of Europe, including the monks. And when the fashion of the common people changed, the monks and secular clergy retained the garment as their ordinary dress.
The following extract from an article by the Rev. Frederick Meyrick, M.A., Fellow and Tutor of Trinity College, Oxford, and Prebendary of Lincoln, will be of interest in this connection. He says:—
Thus it appears that the chasuble, beginning as the ordinary outer garment of the poor, was retained by the Clergy when other people changed the fashion of their clothes, and thus became their ministerial dress. But down to the end of the thirteenth century the idea of its being a sacrificial garment had not arisen. Its accepted meaning was charity. But in the thirteenth century Innocent III. and the Fourth Lateran Council introduced such wide-reaching modifications of the Christian Faith as page 6 almost to change its character. In 1215 Transubstantiation became the authorised belief, and auricular confession the authorised practice of the Latin Church. Transubstantiation, which is the basis of the sacrifice of the Mass, and compulsory confession, profoundly altered the conception entertained of the priesthood. The presbyter now became a sacrificing priest, and the victim that he sacrificed was no other than Christ Himself, while in the confessional he sat as the representative of God. His vesture must indicate the stupendous office which he held. The most noticeable, because the outside, garment that he wore was the chasuble; the chasuble therefore must symbolise sacrifice By degrees it attracted to itself this character, and in the course of the subsequent centuries it became recognised as the priestly sacrificial vestment, while it underwent considerable changes in form. But if the chasuble did not symbolise sacrifice for at least 1300 years, why should it be supposed to symbolise it now ? The whole theory of the symbolical meaning of vestments, which first grew up in the nineteenth century, is partly a pretty and quaint, partly a fantastic and foolish, imagination. Ritualistic fancy has again declared the chasuble to be necessary for the priest who offers the Sacrifice of the Mass, or celebrates the Holy Eucharist. Mr. Passmore pronounces it to bo "an ecclesiastical vestment indispensable to, and characteristic of, the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar" (Sacred Vestments vii). The Ritual Reason Why tells us that the priest removes his chasuble when preaching "because the sermon is not directly a part of the sacrifice," and that he lays it on the altar "because it "is a sacrificial vestment." (No. 430). The Congregation in Church is daring enough to state, without any regard to historical fact, that the alb, girdle, amice, maniple, stole, and chasuble "have been worn at Holy Communion from the days of the Holy Apostles;" the cloak which St. Paul left at Troas having, been, no doubt, his chasuble! And it states that it is the sacerdotal or priestly vestment worn by the celebrant at the Holy Eucharist (pp. 54, 176). This theory is a reason why so strong a desire is entertained for restoring the use of the pre-Reformation vestments in the Church of England. It is not merely a matter of æstheticism, but of doctrine, although the sketch above given of the history of the chasuble proves that the connection between it and the doctrine, which it is now supposed to symbolise, is an arbitrary dictum of the later Middle Ages, unknown for more than a thousand years.
The views of those who USE, and of those who Want the chasuble, have been pithily summarised thus : "Historically, then, the chasuble means the Mass; it was retained by the Church of' Rome because it meant the Mass; it was rejected by the Church of England because it meant the Mass; it was revived by the Ritualists because it meant the Mass."
Extended reference necessary
This extended reference to illegal vestments has seemed necessary, inasmuch as around the "sacrificing priest" circles nearly all the error of a reactionary and disloyal trend that has crept into our Church in recent years. But, though it may on a future occasion be interesting to enter into an examination and refutation of the claims made by Ritualists, that some of these condemned vestments have a kind of warrant, notwithstanding the judgment of the Privy Council, we do not purpose to pursue the subject further than to say, that the lay mind, as distinguished from the Clerical, is accustomed to derive the significance of a term from its use. This principle pervades our literature, our law, and even Holy Scripture. Applying it to the subject before us, we recognise in the chasuble the doctrines that the Papacy has accepted, defined, and authorised. These same doctrines the Church of England has branded as "blasphemous fables," and "pernicious impostures." How can we retain these words, and page 7 at the same time accept the invitation, so complacently tendered us by five of our Bishops, to look upon as "innocent and fanciful" vestments, which symbolise doctrines so sternly denounced by the Thirty-first Article.
"Letters of Business."
The Royal Commission, set up to deal with disorders in the Church of England, reported in 1906 that "Letters of Business" should be issued to Convocation with instructions to consider the necessity for the preparation of a new Rubric, regulating the vesture of Clergymen "At the time of their ministrations, with a view to its enactment by Parliament." A scheme was set on foot, by means of what the "Times" called "an honourable collusion" between the Bishop of Chester and the Archbishop of Canterbury, for the purpose of obtaining Canonical sanction for the use of Mass vestments. The scheme was nipped in the bud, however, by the powerful protest of the Laity. Of course, the object of the Archbishop was to secure the passing of a Canon, without consulting Parliament, which it was hoped might legitimate the discarded vestments in use before the Reformation. Eventually, through the action of the Church Association, a promise was obtained from the Premier, "That His Majesty would not be advised to consent to any such step until after a full and free discussion in Parliament itself of every proposed change."
Canon Law, without Parliament.
Of course, had the Canon been adopted, it could not possibly have legalised what is now forbidden by Statute. In Laud's time the Canons of 1640, framed and passed by arrogant ecclesiastics in the manner it was hoped this proposed Canon would have been, were hung up for all time, as a warning to future Archbishops. "Eternal vigilance" on the part of the Laity against the encroachment of Ecclesiasticism in high places is evidently quite as necessary as in matters appertaining to our national liberties.
Six months after, in 1907, Letters of Business were issued by the Crown to Convocation, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, as a preliminary to the holding of Convocation, announced, in the name of the Committee of the whole House of Bishops, the appointment of five Bishops to act as three sub-committees; the first, with the Bishop of Salisbury for its chairman, to draft a memorandum in regard to the ornaments; the second, presided over by the Archbishop in person, to suggest the "course of procedure in regard to the laws concerning public worship and the ornaments;" and a third, under the Bishop of St. Albans, to present a draft "Showing what changes, if any, ought to be suggested in the Prayer-Book generally."
Action of biassed subcommittees of House of Bishops.
It is to be noted that each of the chairmen named had publicly committed himself to a definite policy of reactionary change on the special subject entrusted to him. Indeed, so clear were these five bishops as to the long need of changes, that the Archbishop, in a speech of February 14th, 1907, declared "if the Royal Commission had been sitting a quarter of a century ago, it would have recommended Parliamentary action, but," added His Grace, "the recent commission did not do that." As a matter of fact, this was what the Commission, as already stated, had actually done, it had asked for suggestions from Convocation, "with a view to their enactment by Parliament."
In February, 1908, the first of the three reports advocating the restoration of the Mass vestments appeared. The five bishops frankly adopted the platform of Lord Halifax and the Ritualistic English Church Union, and by placing themselves at the head of the party pledged to the restoration of the outward trappings of the Mass, they demonstrated the depth and width of the cleavage which now stands revealed between the Bishops and the Laity of the Church of England. Recent information appears to show that Convocation has decided against the proposal to seek the approval of Parliament to any alteration of the Prayer Book; for it evidently fears that Parliament, if it considered the subject at all, would make more stringent the existing regulations against mass vestments.
The Church in New Zealand.
English changes affect New Zealand.
So much regarding the Church in England; and what of our own? As a branch of the English Church, we are directly affected by all that happens within her. If a considerable section of her chief officers, clerical and lay, is engaged in the mission of undoing the great work accomplished by the Reformers three centuries since; if the Sacrifice of the Mass is to be reintroduced in any of her Churches; if English mothers are once more to be lured to lay their sins before a priest and to look to him for absolution, instead of directly approaching their God; if English children are to be trained in the corrupt beliefs of Southern Europe, and taught to pray to Virgins and to Saints; if lawful authority is to be flouted and disregarded by lawless churchmen in a word, if the priest is to be exalted into a worker of miracles, and Our Lord degraded by the introduction of the canker of idolatry and materialism into spiritual commemoration of His Sacrifice for sin, instituted by himself, then must the Churches in England's Dependencies suffer because of treason within the Mother Church And, since the ranks of the Clergy in the colony are being, to a very large extent, recruited from sacerdotal sources, there is the certainty that the teachings given in our Churches, schools, and societies, will be increasingly tainted with the sacerdotal spirit so prevalent in certain Dioceses in England.
Our constitutional position
Let us try and see where we stand. The Church of the Province of New Zealand is a voluntary association of Members of the English Church living in New Zealand, desiring to be recognised as a branch of the Church of England; with a "Constitution," giving power to make its own laws and regulations, Except in relation to certain definite matters which are described in the constitutional compact as "fundamental." These may not be altered so long as Church and State remain united in England, or so long as New Zealand remains a part of the British Empire. These Fundamental Provisions are six in number, and cover:—Declaration of Doctrine; Power to accept alteration in Formularies made by the Church in England; and the creation of a representative governing body of the Church—the General Synod. In addition to the six Fundamental Provisions, which it is "not within the power of the General Synod or of any Diocesan Synod to alter, add to, or diminish," there are twenty-four non-fundamental provisions, which may be dealt with by Synod, under stringent rules laid down. These refer in the main to matters of internal government of the Provincial Church. The Declaration of Doctrine set forth in the First Fundamental Article, makes our local Church "hold and maintain the Doctrine and Sacraments of Christ as the Lord had commanded in His Holy Word, and as the United Church of England and Ireland hath received and explained the same in the Book of Common Prayer in the form and manner of Making, Ordaining, and Consecrating of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, and in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion. And the General Synod hereinafter constituted for the government for this branch of the said Church shall also hold and maintain the said Doctrine and Sacraments of Christ, and shall have no power to make any alteration in the Authorised Version of the Holy Scriptures, or in the abovenamed Formularies of the Church." Article Two gives power to adopt any change which may be made by the Mother Church. From these conditions it will be at once seen how almost indissoluble is the tie which binds us to the Church of England. But although this may be evident to the ordinary mind, and the wisdom of the restrictions placed upon us recognised, to many ecclesiastical minds it does not so present itself.
Attempts to alter "Fundamentals."
For many years past there has been an insistent agitation, fostered mainly by the clerical section of the Church, for a change in Clause Six, so as to provide power for Synod to alter the Fundamental Provisions. Indeed, in 1892, an Act was passed by the Genera] Synod in this direction, providing for the addition to Clause Six of the words, "Save in the manner hereinafter provided." The provision consisted in it being required that for an alteration of a Fundamental Provision, legislation in that direction, by any Synod, must be confirmed by the following Synod But it did not need the declension by the Synod of 1905 to confirm the action of the Synod of 1902, to render such action null, it was ultra vires from the start.
Bishop Selwyn, to opinions, frequently not his own, have recently been attributed, had a short but effective way of dealing with such a proposal, for we find that he, presiding as Bishop of New Zealand, over the session of General Synod, held at Christchurch in 1865, in an elaborate statement regarding the powers of Synod under the Constitution recently adopted, announced that he should "feel himself justified in refusing to put from the chair any proposal for altering the Fundamental Provisions."
Warning to Churchmen.
It is necessary to remind churchmen of this alteration made by Synod in 1902, in order to place on record that though it has appeared in the "authorised" edition of the Constitution, issued after the session of 1902, it is absolutely illegal and without warrant; but its history needs to be preserved, as further attacks will be made upon the Fundamentals. The Laity should jealously retain the protection which the Fundamental Articles afford, against false doctrine and Romish ceremonies obtaining sanction, even though we may for a time appear powerless to prevent them being taught and practised. The Council of the League believes it is correct in stating that, so doutbful are the advocates of alteration as to the strength of their position, and so determined are they to obtain, under the guise of "Automony for the Church," power to revolutionise the New Zealand Church, that the aid of Parliament will be invoked at no distant date. Should this surmise prove correct, it will be the duty of the Laity to strenuously oppose the project, and of the Laymen's League to lead the opposition.
Powers Assumed by the Episcopate.
Government by "Orders" endangered.
By its Constitution the Church is governed by all three Orders: Bishops, Clergy, Laity, each having in Synods and in some subordinate bodies, equal rights, the consent of all three being necessary for action taken. But of late there has sprung into existence a distinct violation of this fundamental equality, and a determination has been evinced by the Episcopate to count of little value, and even put aside, the opinion of the Clergy, and of the Laity in particular, when found to be in antagonism to that of the Bishops. Facts bearing out this statement are known to members of Synod and of some Church Boards, but, for present purposes, it will be sufficient to give a single instance from the transactions of Synod, and one from the business of a Board.
"Order of The Good Shepherd."
It is but a short time since a member of Synod called attention, by way of resolution, to the proposed establishment under a "Constitution," stated to be issued by "authority," of a Sisterhood pledged to celibacy, poverty, and obedience. This page 11 Sisterhood was to be a continuation of what was known in Auckland as "The Mission to Streets and Lanes," a very excellent institution, working under rules approved by Diocesan Synod many years since. The name of the newly-constituted body, according to the "authorised" Constitution, was to be "The Order of the Good Shepherd." The work of the Society, both in its old form and in its new, was undoubtedly of a high character, deserving of all praise. But the Constitution of the "Order" in its new form contained elements of a nature which required to be carefully considered before embodiment in the rules governing a Sisterhood connected with the Reformed Church of England. But these rules, strange to say, though an enlargement and material alteration of those originally adopted by Synod for the government of the Mission to Streets and Lanes, were never submitted to Synod at all, and their authority had to be challenged by resolution. On the express terms of a resolution unanimously passed, providing that the rules would be recast and brought before the following year's Synod for confirmation or otherwise, a vote condemnatory of this conventual institution was avoided. Next year, however, the Chapter, which was the body nominally responsible for the Constitution in its objectionable form, distinctly ignored the resolution of Synod, and failed to produce or make any reference to the revised rules. When questioned, the clerical representative of the Chapter calmly informed Synod that the establishment of the Sisterhood was a "spiritual matter" for which that "spiritual body," the Chapter, was not responsible to Synod. This statement was made in face of the fact that the Chapter exists by Act of the Synod, and it is required by that Act to report its proceedings year by year to the Synod. As there existed no sufficient firmness in the Synod to assert its rights, the extraordinary position has been reached that, by the action of the Diocesan, the Sisters were "received," and the institution goes on under an unlawful constitution, containing what many members of the Church believe to be unChristian and unnatural rules for the control of women.
Once the power of the Bishop and the Chapter to do this thing is admitted, there is nothing in Synod to prevent them from transforming a self-governing Church into a system where the so-called governing body can act merely at the will or caprice of one of its three orders—the Episcopate. The day when this action took place marks the blasting in the minds of many laymen, anxious to assist to the utmost of their ability in the advancement of the spiritual life of the Diocese, of the hope they had cherished that under the new regime the Diocese would be governed with a spirit entirely free, as formerly, from ecclesiastical autocracy. This statement of a painful incident is put on record with a sense of extreme regret : but it is necessary that the facts should be stated in order that those of the Laity who do not recognise the seriousness of the position thereby created, may be aroused to a sense of the danger which threatens their rights as Churchmen in consequence of the new policy of the Episcopate.
St. John's College Trust.
In the matter of Church Trusts, the same desire to exercise the spirit of ecclesiastical domination appears to prevail. We will indicate one instance of this. The College of St. John the Evangalist, at Tamaki, is under the control of Trustees, appointed by General Synod, and of Governors named, one by each Bishop of the Provincial Church, except by the Bishop of Auckland, who is ex officio Chairman of the Board of Governors. For a considerable time, extending probably over two or three years, there were divergent views among the Board of Governors in regard to the control and management of the College, which disagreement came into prominence and publicity in the matter of the arbitrary exclusion from the College of holders of certain scholarships by the act of the then Warden. This action was approved of by the Chairman, but failed to secure unanimous approval from the Board; some members, clerical as well as lay, held the rustication of the scholars to be beyond the power of the Warden, and indeed of the Board itself, unless wrong doing on the part of the scholars concerned had, after a full inquiry, been first proved. No proof was ever offered. On the contrary, one scholar, by the threat of an action at law, obtained compensation to a considerable amount for the forfeiture of scholarship without trial. This compensation the Trustees were called upon by the Governors to pay, though they had had no voice whatever in the wrongful treatment of the scholars; and the Board did pay upon the deliberative and casting vote of the Right Reverend the Chairman, given at a Board meeting at which but four members were present. As a result, one of the Trustees felt himself called upon to resign his position, believing, that if compensation were due, it should be paid by the persons who did the wrong to the scholars, and not taken out of Scholarship or College Funds.
Bishops assume sole control.
This "contumacy" on the part of members of both bodies, led to the suggestion, which came in a memorandum from the very Warden under whom the trouble with the scholars had arisen, of getting rid of the clerical and lay members of the Board of Governors altogether. The proposal met with but little support from either Trustees or Governors, but, at a subsequent selection of Governors, at the time of the holding of last General Synod, all the Bishops who had the right to name Governors, except the Bishop of Dunedin, named themselves. It was a monstrous perversion of the right of selection, which could only have been resorted to for the purpose of getting rid of men who had proved themselves not only not pliant, but fearless. All who desire to understand how overbearing and arbitrary this self-appointment by the Bishops was, have but to refer to the terms of Section 3 of Canon II., Title E., which provides for the mode of appointment of a Governor. An appeal against the action of these Bishops was sent forward to the Standing Commission, sitting at Dunedin, a body which interprets Church Laws, the members of which had no hesitation in declaring the Bishops' appointments of themselves as Governors page 13 as absolutely invalid. This appeal, we are glad to be able to place on record, was made by a Clerical Governor who had been displaced and who stated his case with such force and clearness that there could be but one result. Most people would think this decision conclusive, not so these Bishops. Forced to name fresh persons, they reappointed those former Members of the Board, who in the past had been found tractable, and dispensed with the services of the remainder of the old Members. Once more freedom of opinion, judgment, and speech were put aside, when it interfered with the views and designs of high Ecclesiastics. And yet there are to be found good people in our midst who express astonishment at the establishment of a "Laymen's League."
|(a)||There is in England a widespread movement, generally deemed and called "a conspiracy," to Romanise the National Church.|
|(b)||The germ of this pestilent thing has reached our land. There are Clergy among us, few, we are glad to think, who know well what it means, and yet are prepared, when they deem the time ripe, to go the full length of reunion with Rome on Rome's terms. Others not so far advanced, are found striving to lead their people in the attempt to discover forced meanings in the Sacraments and Ceremonies of the Church, which do violence to the plain terms of Her Articles, and to the clearly expressed intentions of the compilers of the Prayer Book. A third section, made up mainly of younger men, who know little, and seem to care less, about the principles that lie at the roots of Churchmanship, follow the newest ecclesiastical fashion in doctrine and in ritual, so long as it carries the approval of their superiors.|
Appeal to the Clergy.
May we venture to plead with the Clergy of all three divisions. To the first we say, "If you are honestly convinced that Truth is to be found in the Roman rather than in the Anglican Communion, why not go there at once and ease your souls? Surely you are not seeking to follow the wicked example set in England by men who remain in our Communion in order to do Rome's work of proselytism more effectually?"
Of the second section, Clergy who adopt ritualistic practices, but do not attach much, if any, doctrinal significance to them, deeming them merely "fanciful and innocent," we ask: "Are you acting loyally to the Church or by the people, whose salvation it is your function to 'help and not to hinder,' when, because of your own stubborn will and inflated conception of office, you indulge in practices, preach doubtful doctrine, or assume a lordship which page 14 results in driving from their Church men with their families, who were born in our Church, sealed with its seal, and nourished by its truths, long before you were ever admitted to the exercise of the Ministry. God calls to account the steward of His Vineyard as well as the humblest labourer therein. For your own sake, for your people's spiritual welfare, and for the triumph of God's Kingdom on earth, consider these things.
To the Clergy of the third class, the younger men, we would say in the words of the exhortation delivered to them at their Ordination, "Ye ought to apply yourselves, as well as that ye may shew yourselves dutiful and thankful unto that Lord, Who has placed you in so high a Dignity, as also to beware, that neither you yourselves offend, nor be occasion that others offend."
To the Clergy, as a whole, we say : "We give God thanks that it is but a fraction of your Order, who in this Diocese afflict the people in the direction we have dwelt upon. The great body of you we believe to be out of sympathy with the ritualistic movement in its grosser form. God keep you so, and save you from the influence of bad example! The establishment of this League will, we trust, assist you in your honest course. It will have a steadying effect on the Diocese, and, perhaps, beyond it. And we believe that, given wise counsels in the conduct of the League, the Church of New Zealand will, in future years, have reason to be thankful for its existence.
O, the pity of it, to see honest old-fashioned English Churchmen driven with their families from their Parish Church to seek the ministrations of the Pastors of other Christian bodies, or to join themselves to sects which, in the desperate effort to escape from the arrogance of a priesthood, are serving God under the guidance of lay Preachers only, or, worse still, "to forsake the gathering together," as the manner of most now is, and to drift away with the multitude of the careless and indifferent! The Reformation freed England from the superstition of the dark ages; there is grave danger that the restoration of that same superstition will plunge the Empire into a darker age of paganism, from which not even denominational schools will save it. For let the Clergy mark this—it was one thing for a sacerdotal caste, the sole repository of the Nation's learning, to impose on a benighted country a system as full of priestly claims as of religious error; it will be found a very different undertaking to set again the yoke of Ecclesiasticism on the neck of a Laity in whom has been fulfilled the saying "The truth shall make you free."
Responsibility of the Laity.
Brethren of the Laity, recognise, and teach your children to recognise, the greatness of the heritage which, in our pure religion and free Church, God has given us. Resist, with might and main, the beginning of error, false doctrine, and tyranny within the Church. See for yourselves how far innovations, foreign to the principles of our Church, have been introduced here. Let page 15 each bring to the touchstone of Holy Scripture and the Book of Common Prayer, the teaching and ritual of the Church in which he worships. At this stage of the League's existence it is not thought well to single out particular persons or churches for its attention, and we trust that there may be no need in the future. But should any of you desire aid, beside that of your fellow parishioners, against the encroachment of error, the League, as far as it is within its power, will render it. This is our bounden duty. For the Church of Christ is not so much a body, clerical and lay, but a body more lay than clerical; from this it follows that lay action is not incidental or occasional, but an essential part of all Church action whatever. The action of the Laity is competent in matters of doctrine and government, from the very nature of Christianity and of the Church; it follows from this that The Laity are Responsible if False Doctrine is Formally Accepted by the Church.
[Publications of the League may be had Free, upon application to any of the Officers, or at the Auckland Sunday School Union Depot, 141 Queen Street.]
How easy and natural is the slip from Ritualism to Romanism is well exemplified in the case of "Father" Hugh Benson, son of a late Primate of England, who, speaking to a Roman Catholic audience, stated :—
"At that time (when he was in the English Church) I believed that we had the true priesthood and we practised Catholic doctrine. We had what we believed to be the Mass, we observed silence during the greater part of the day, we wore a certain kind of habit with a girdle, and some wore a biretta. We used the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, supplementing it with a great part of the Catholic Breviary, and I for months—I might say years—before I became a Catholic, recited my rosary every day. . . . At the conclusion of the missions which I conducted as part of my public work, I used to hear far more confessions than I have heard as a Catholic priest. . . . On practically every point except the supremacy of the Pope, we believed the teaching of the Catholic Church, taught most of her doctrines, as thousands of Anglican Clergy are doing to-day, and it is this High Church teaching that is building the bridge over which Anglicans will come into the true fold."
Professor St. George Mivart, F.R.S., a well-known Roman Catholic writer, in the Nineteenth Century, after referring to the "absurdly grotesque" conduct of Ritualists in some respects, says :—
"But these facts should not blind us to the good work the High Church party in the Establishment is doing. The English people are sadly inaccessible to the Catholic clergy on account of old habits and traditional prejudices, and modern Catholic worship is often strange and repellant to them. But the Ritualistic ministers of the Establishment can easily obtain a hearing, and succeed in scattering the good seed of Roman doctrine far and wide. We now frequently meet with devout practices which, forty years ago, were unheard of, save to be denounced and scouted outside the small Catholic body. But Ritualists are rapidly making the word Protestant to .stink in the nostrils of their congregations, amd causing them to regard it as a detestable form of belief. Thus, not only are our ancient Churches being renovated and decorated in the Roman spirit, and so prepared for us, but congregations to fill them are being gathered together. The devout and noble-minded men who form the advance arty are preparing the way for a great increase of the [Roman] Catholic hurch in England."
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