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trivances by which the necessary material sustentation of religious teaching can be provided, is the least exposed to the danger of despiritualizing those who profit by it. In ordinary times a suitable endowment is almost an absolute security to the clergyman that it will be in his power to shut out all pecuniary vexations or fears, by which he may be distracted from his work. It furnishes to bim, if it be well-contrived, an adequate supply of the means of life with an unfailing regularity, which in no way depends upon any exertion of his own. If the ideal of a priest secluded from every worldly care could be realised anywhere on earth, it would be where there was an endowment adequate, and likely to be always adequate, for the needs of the Church. But there is one set of circumstances under which the material support of the Church must be a matter of effort and of struggle, even under a system of endowments. Though consecrated to holy uses, they still fall within the category of earthly treasure, which the thief may break in upon and spoil. They are liable to human depredation, and must be protected by human means. The contrast between the condition of those who have and those who have not is seldom a soothing subject of contemplation to the latter; and they are apt to attribute it to some wrong in the institutions by which it is sanctioned. In the case of endowments this natural impulse of covetousness is mingled with and sometimes masked by hostile religious zeal. Whenever the politicians or the sectaries who have cast upon any endowments the eyes of desire become powerful enough to carry their wishes into effect, there is always some good pretext at hand, which passes as valid with those who need it, for effecting the desired spoliation. In such times the sustenance of the Church will depend upon the activity of her most zealous members as much as if it were raised by begging circulars or begging sermons once a month. No doubt this activity may be stigmatised as secular: all efforts which have the getiing or keeping of money for their object are liable to that designation. But struggling to keep your money is not a bit more worldly than struggling to get it. Stimulating a congregation to put their money into the plate, and stimulating Members of Parliament, or those who elect them, to vote against spoliating proposals, are both equally secular occupations. If either is unworthy of a minister of religion, both must be so equally. The minister of religion who, though unendowed, never utters a word or takes a step to induce any one to contribute towards his maintenance, may, without inconsistency, object to Church politics and clerical politicians. But if it be admitted that clergymen who have nothing to eat are not likely to prove effective in their office; and that if clergymen are to be fed, the
degrading necessity of procuring money to feed them is inevitable, then it is as legitimate to use the means which the British Constitution prescribes for preserving the money that has been collected, as it is to use exhortation from the pulpit, or organised importunity, for the purpose of collecting it.
We are well aware that a good deal of doctrine of a totally different tone is going about the world just now. Exhortations to the clergy not to busy themselves with the things of this world are particularly rife. They are told that none of these questions of endowment really concern the due performance of their sacred duties. By a thousand taunts and insinuations it is hinted that any zeal in protecting their endowments can only be a proof of unspiritual and sordid minds; and, above all things, they are warned of the fatal consequences to their influence, and the esteem in which they are held, if they should take advantage of the alliance of any political party in resisting spoliation. All this advice is tendered to them with great earnestness by many political counsellors; and from the devout tone and elevated language in which it is conveyed, a stranger might infer that many of our Sauls had taken their places among the prophets. The suspicious feature about this profuse liberality of admonition is, that it mainly proceeds from those who have strong motives of a less exalted character for wishing to throw the endowments open for a general scramble. The judicious advisers of the Church in this case are either the Dissenters, who wish to have a share of the plunder, or the politicians who wish for the Dissenters' vote. Under these circumstances the advice in question indicates a considerable command of nerve, and a total absence of bashfulness. Spoliation, whether public or private, is, unhappily, no rare phenomenon in this evil world; but to read a man a sermon upon the sin of covetousness at the moment you are rifling his pockets, is a refinement of cruelty of which there are few examples. Spiritual exhortations will always command due reverence in mouths which they beseem ; but the text, Lay not up treasure upon earth, would cease to be impressive if it came from a gentleman who was at the moment engaged in emptying the cash-box of the person to whom it was addressed.
The truth is, that in a constitutional country like England there is no middle term between a readiness to engage, if need be, in political warfare and an absolute renunciation of all civil rights. Vast numbers, of course, pass from the cradle to the grave without once in the course of their lives being called upon to employ a particle of political influence for the preservation of their rights. But they never renounce the power of doing so, or would hesitate to exercise it, if they were assailed.
If any class were to proclaim itself precluded from resorting to political agitation in self-defence, it would mark itself out for depredation. The struggle for existence among the political elements of the State is constant and severe. Our Government and Legislature have no independent action of their own; they are the passive tools of the victor in that struggle. The only security for the vanquished is that any oppressive action towards them is likely to involve other classes in its principle, and so to give them the opportunity of finding in new combinations the means of renewed resistance. Conflict in free states is the law of life. A despotism protects its subjects from all encroachments but its own. There is no protection under it against the Government; but there is comparatively little danger from the designs of rival interests. Under a free government there is no danger from the executive, but the necessity of selfprotection against rival interests is incessant. No institution constitutes any exception to this rule, and least of all one so exposed to hostility as the Church. The idea that it is the part of Churchmen to submit passively to whatever treatment the lay power may design for the Church is borrowed from the experience of despotic times. When Churchmen formed no part of the Government, their union would have been powerless to control its decisions unless they had been prepared to venture upon illegal resistance. Under a free government such a passive attitude, so far as secular position is concerned, would be simple ruin. No scruples of a similar kind hamper their adversaries, No dissenting minister is afflicted by any doubts as to the lawfulness of his taking part in a secular conflict. The Church has to contend against an organisation in which every spiritual influence is utilised as a source of success in gaining a purely secular end. If she is shy of employing her influence for the purpose of securing her secular position, no hesitation of that kind will disturb the projects or paralyse the vigour of her foes. To them it appears as a fact too self-evident for argument, that the religious bodies to which they belong are justified in struggling for what they conceive to be their rights; and that they may arm themselves without reproach for secular ends with weapons which though innocent are borrowed from the world. The hustings are the very court of appeal provided by the constitution against injustice which may be perpetrated by the House of Commons. To have had recourse to that court of appeal can never be a matter of reproach to any class of the subjects of the Queen. Unless it was wrong of the Church to have accepted endowments, it cannot be wrong for her to use every constitutional means for their protection; and the hustings
are the only court in which the friends of the Church can hope to obtain protection for the endowments she has received. It is there they must confront their adversaries; it is there they must appear, unless they are content that judgment should go against them by default. But this court, like every other, has its own system of procedure, to which those who sue in it must conform. Agitation and canvassing, and party organisation, and the various details of electioneering, are merely so many parts of the procedure by which the cause is brought to an issue and the decision of the court is obtained. If they are disagreeable, and even repulsive in their character, the blame lies not with those who resort to them, but with the constitution that imposes them. It may be painful that subjects of a sacred character should be bandied about in this turbulent court of the constitution. It is equally painful when they are made the subjects of contention in the more orderly courts of law. But it is a scandal for which the suitors at least are not responsible. It is enough for them that no other means of securing justice has been offered to them by the constitution under which they live. They are not to be barred of their rights because the only procedure through which those rights can be vindicated is open to criticism.
The necessity of taking part in political conflicts is one which from time to time individual religious men have deplored, but which the Church, as a whole, has never been able to avoid. It is part and parcel of the alliance which from the earliest she has in one form or another contracted with the powers of the world. She accepted that necessity when she accepted endowments, — when she consented to establishments, when she authorized her highest office-bearers to fill secular offices, and bear secular honours,—when, in the interests of peace, she lent from time to time the sanction of her authority to the political arrangements of each succeeding age. The first alliance with Constantine involved within the same century more than one fierce dynastic conflict, in which the Church was no impartial bystander: and almost every century which has followed since that time has witnessed her practical acknowledgment of the same unwelcome necessity. If she has judged it right to accept earthly advantages, in order that they may be used to gain spiritual ends, it cannot be incompatible with her sacred character to accept the conditions under which all earthly advantages must be enjoyed. She must descend, if need be, upon the political arena, and fight with political weapons for her rights. Her children must submit to the exigencies of political warfare. In that, as in all other earthly concerns, they are bound to dis
play an example of the lofty morality they profess; but, subject to this higher duty, they must use in the contest upon which they have entered every means by which victory can be attained. It cannot be right to fight the battle, and yet wrong to fight it well. Whatever legitimate course is most likely to secure the secular interests of the Church, that course they are bound to take.
If it be for her interests to keep aloof from political party, those who consider her prosperity as superior to any other object of earthly aspiration, will not allow any secondary attachments or lower aims to draw them into a party organization. On the other hand, if it be for her interests to form a party alliance, to purchase political aid by political support, they will not be deterred from that course by any fear of the sentimental obloquy it must involve. The incongruity between the ministry of the Gospel and political activity will always reveal itself with marvellous distinctness to those against whom the political activity of the ministers of the Gospel happens to be directed. They are smitten with a sudden admiration of political neutrality, and celebrate its beauties in language which might almost seem to treat it as one of the counsels of perfection, if they did not at the same time exhibit such extravagant care to avoid it in their own conduct. One who should form his judgment by the phrases of unmeasured contempt with which the degradation of politics is preached by politicians, especially on the eve of a general election, might almost fancy that some great public act of penance was about to be performed ; and that before long hordes of politicians would be seen publicly burning their blue-books, with as much zeal as the Florentines destroying their novels at the bidding of Savonarola. No such gratifying spectacle, however, does in practice ever take place. Those who, before the election, had been lecturing the clergy with so much unction upon the degradation of politics, return to their degradation with redoubled zeal as soon as they have persuaded the simple-minded clergy to refrain from taking part in the election. There is inevitably a certain suspicion attaching to these ardent panegyrics upon ecclesiastical inactivity when they so commonly proceed from those who are always the foremost advocates of projects for the alienation of ecclesiastical endowments.
This, however, is not the whole of the question which Churchmen have to consider at the present juncture. The legitimacy of political action on the part of the Church must be admitted by all who allow that she may occupy any position whatever of secular dignity and wealth. Whether at every particular period it is or is not her interest to join her forces to those of a political party is a question of far wider range, which must be decided less upon