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His Excommunication of the Archbishop.
neither less nor more, has he to execute the sentence of the law upon any of his fellow subjects, whom he may please to accuse of theft, of murder, or of treason.
Had a similar outrage against constituted authority been perpetrated in any other profession, it would not have been suffered to pass unpunished. If a colonel had called his officers together on parade, and then and there declared to them his determination to resist the orders of the commander-in-chief, within twenty-four hours he would have been shot for insubordination. Had a barrister accused the judge who decided against his client, of bribery or perversion of justice, he would have been committed for contempt of court. But the officers of the Church, it seems, may defy its laws, and revile their administrators with impunity. A spirit of extreme forbearance, and of excessive laissez faire, added to the complicated technicalities of a cumbrous legal machinery, has rendered it difficult to punish even minor ecclesiastical offenders; and, in the case of a bishop, the difficulty is of course increased. Thus Bishop Philpotts, while he seemed to court martyrdom, was morally certain of impunity. And this certainty was rendered doubly sure, by his knowledge of the character of the Primate against whom his offence was committed. This was forcibly put by Lord John Russell, in the House of Commons, when he said, With ' regard to the language the Bishop of Exeter has used relative 'to the Archbishop of Canterbury, it is well known that the Archbishop of Canterbury is a man of peculiar mildness of 'character, and of truly Christian forbearance; and I think it is because he is a man of peculiar mildness of character, and of 'well-known Christian forbearance, that that language has been ' used. (Loud and general cries of "Hear" from both sides of 'the House.)** Yet, greatly as we admire the Archbishop's character, we must say that mildness and forbearance have their limits, and may, if carried to extreme, lead even to neglect of duty. So the venerable Eli was distinguished by the gentleness of his disposition, and the lenity of his administration; and by pushing those amiable characteristics to excess, he brought great calamities upon himself and his people; because his sons made ' themselves vile, and he restrained them not!'t We question whether forbearance be not carried too far, when it leads the
Church, Plymouth) on the same grounds. Is it to be tolerated that any public officer should thus continue to violate the law with ab- . solute impunity?
* 'Times' report of the debate of May 2. 1851.
+ 1 Sam. iii. 18.
Archbishop to take no steps against a rebellious suffragan, whose conduct is doing such infinite mischief to the Church, and whose ecclesiastical offence would (if he were proceeded against) be punished by suspension from all spiritual functions, and perhaps also by deprivation of the temporalities of his see.
It does not follow, however, because no formal proceedings have been instituted against Bishop Philpotts, that he stands in the same legal position which he occupied before the commission of his offence. On the contrary, if a clergyman of the diocese of Exeter were to refuse compliance with any monition from the bishop, and were to plead in his defence (when proceeded against in the Ecclesiastical Courts), that the Bishop had excommunicated the Archbishop, there is great reason to believe that this would be held a sufficient justification; for as the jurisdiction of the Bishop is derived from the Archbishop, and conferred only after an oath of obedience to the Archbishop, it seems evident, that when the obedience is renounced the jurisdiction ceases. Any clergyman who would bring this question to issue would be conferring an important service on the Church of England, whatever might be the decision; for, if it were against him, it would show so glaringly the defect of the law (in placing the clergy under the unlimited despotism of a bishop who had renounced his responsibility to his own ecclesiastical superior, and his submission to the ecclesiastical tribunals), that it would force Parliament to pass some remedial enactment; or if, on the other hand, he gained his cause, the bishop would be reduced to his proper position of insignificance, and would thenceforward derive no authority to oppress others from the law which he had himself outraged. While giving this advice, however, we do not counsel the Exeter clergy to imitate their bishop in the mode of their resistance even to him ; we do not advise them to call their congregations together, and denounce him from the pulpit as a rebel or an impostor;- we do not recommend them, if the Court of Arches decides against them, to excommunicate Sir Herbert Jenner Fust;-but we advise that they should obtain the calm and impartial decision of a court of law upon the question whether their allegiance to the Bishop of Exeter is any longer compatible with their allegiance to their metropolitan and to the Church of England. For, at any rate, there can be no doubt that all moral obligation upon the clergy to obey the bishop has been annulled by his conduct. Since the laws under which alone he can claim such obedience, the ecclesiastical constitution and authorities under which it can alone be exacted, are the very
His Synod at Exeter.
laws, constitution, and authorities, which he has openly disobeyed, renounced, and defied.
It is evident that Bishop Philpotts himself felt that he had exposed himself to such resistance on the part of his clergy, by his eager desire to commit them to the same contumacicus course which he had adopted, and subject them to the same penalties which he had incurred. Having virtually separated himself from the National Church, he tried to persuade them to follow him in his schism. Being an ecclesiastical outlaw himself, he tried to outlaw his diocese also. He tells them that this diocese has been specially and formally injured by the • obtrusion into it of a minister holding heretical opinions on an article of the creed,' that, the Archbishop himself, acting avowedly as the minister of the secular powers, has been the instrument to commit this wrong;' and the consequence is, 'that your Bishop thus finds his spiritual rights, duties, and responsibilities in Christ's Holy Catholic, and Apostolic Church, impaired and marred by his position in the National Church. 'And yet, need I say, that a national church is only an adventitious and accidental ordinance in that system, of which par❝ticular churches are integral and essential parts? For, as you 'know, according to the ancient principles of the Catholic Church, every diocese is, in itself, a whole; therefore if there were no National Church, yet would the Catholic Church remain whole " and entire.'* The plain English of which is, that every bishop is irresponsible and despotic, amenable to no superior, aud entitled by his arbitrary fiat to pronounce his clergy heretics, and deprive them of their preferments.
On these grounds then, viz., that every diocese is, by divine right, a separate and independent Church, he summons his clergy to meet him in a Diocesan Synod, at the cathedral city,' and there to concur with him in a Declaration that we adhere to the article of the Creed I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins, which article we consider to have been 'virtually denied when her Majesty decided as she did on the Re'port of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.' †
Nor was there much breathing time allowed to the astonished clergy, but immediately on the close of the Visitation at which this amazing Pastoral was delivered, the Diocesan Synod was convened at Exeter. It was a packed assembly, the majority nominated either directly or indirectly by the Bishop, and the remainder elected by about 300 out of the 800 clergy of the
* Pastoral, p. 108, 109. VOL. XCV. NO. CXCIII.
† Ibid. p. 111.
diocese.* Yet even to this assembly the Bishop did not venture to propose the Declaration which (as we have just seen) he had promised, viz., that an article of the Creed had been virtually denied by her Majesty,' &c.; but substituted for it a very moderate enunciation of the doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration. His purpose, however, was in great measure answered; the public knew nothing of the details; none but reporters from the ultra-Tractarian newspapers were allowed to be present; some awkward circumstances (such as a Protest made in the name of the Chapter by one of the archdeacons, against issuing any declaration), were suppressed or softened down in the Report of the proceedings; the Bishop had informed the public that the representative part of the Synod was to be elected by an ' absolute majority of the clergy;' and on the whole the general impression was that the great body of the clergy supported the Bishop in his violent and unpopular course.
Thus these proceedings have tended yet further to increase the evils which had been caused by the previous Episcopate of Bishop Philpotts. A greater intensity has been given to the morbid symptoms which before threatened destruction to the ecclesiastical body politic. For in the symptoms themselves
* This proportion of the voters to the non-voters was established by returns made to the central committee at Exeter, which organised the protest against the Synod. The fact was, that the majority of the clergy, disgusted by the bishop's violence, kept aloof from the meetings held for electing the representatives to the Synod, leaving the election in the hands of the bishop's partisans. The non-elective part of the Synod consisted, (to quote the Bishop's own words) of the Bishop, his full Chapter, his Archdeacons, his Chaplains,' [all nominated by the Bishop of Exeter] and the Deans rural' [nominated by the Archdeacons]. (Pastoral, p. 113.). Besides the passive opposition to the Synod which we have mentioned above, its active opponents among the clergy were very numerous, and 114 clergymen (or one seventh of the whole diocese) took the unusually bold step of publishing their protests against it. This opposition, however, was very little noticed by the Press; and, indeed, it is a curious circumstance, how far more active the Philpotite party in the Church is than their antagonists, in availing themselves of the instrumentality of the Press to maintain their position. For example, how little effort has been made to circulate the remarkable fact, that the Declaration in favour of the Gorham judgment, was signed by 2300 clergy, a larger number than ever signed any similar document. Had such a demonstration been made by half the number of clergy, in favour of any Philpotite measure, we should have had peans chanted in the daily leaders of the 'Morning Chronicle,' and in the weekly columns of the 'Guardian,' and sly paragraphs in the 'miscellaneous 'intelligence' of the other papers, for months afterwards.
Mischievous Results of his Policy.
there is nothing new except their greater virulence. The same causes have produced the same effects, throughout the whole of the Bishop's long career of mischief. The clergy have been turned from the quiet pursuit of practical usefulness, to the more exciting labours of controversy aud party strife. One section of the Church has been hounded on against the other; a bitterness of hostility has been encouraged between those who should be labourers in the same vineyard, and brethren in the same household. Those of the clergy who have felt it their duty publicly to protest against their Bishop's outrageous proceedings, are placed in a most painful position. They are subjected to every kind of petty annoyance, and vexatious interference. The curates whom they nominate are rejected, and they may think themselves fortunate if they are not saddled with a nominee of the Bishop's, to act as a member of the Episcopal secret service in their parish. Everything is done to show that they are marked out for vengeance, and thus to deter others from following so dangerous an example. On the other hand, the remainder of the clergy suffer in a different way. Having taken no active part against the Bishop, they are supposed to sympathise with and support him. Thus the odium which he has excited against himself is transferred to them; and year by year, the laity become more estranged from the clergy, the people more alienated from the Church.
Nor is the mischief wrought by this turbulent prelate confined to his own diocese; it extends, though in a less degree, through the whole of England.* If we investigate the origin of
* The agitating influence of the Bishop extends even beyond the British Dominions. An amusing example of this was furnished at Madeira last year. The small English population of that island is split into two theological factions, who patronise different places of worship in the chapels of two rival chaplains, both clergymen of the Church of England. The low church attend the Government chaplain (Mr. Brown); the high church frequent the voluntary chapel of Mr. Lowe, and look on Mr. Brown as a heretic and schismatic. Two dignitaries of the Church (the Bishop of Bombay and the Dean of Llandaff) spent part of the winter on the island, and showed their desire of preserving strict neutrality by attending both chapels on alternate Sundays. This conduct satisfied every body, till, one unlucky morning, the English mail brought copies of the letter to the Archbishop,' wherein Bishop Philpotts announced his intention of excommunicating the Primate. At once, a strong emulation prompts his partisans to follow so noble an example. Accordingly the High Church Chaplain excommunicated the Bishop and the Dean, (on the ground that they had attended the church of his rival), and he actually published his excommunication in England. Unfortunately, however, his zeal was