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first principles than by the particular circumstances of each case. History will furnish us with an abundance of instances in which the Church has suffered from a political alliance, and an equal abundance of cases in which she has prospered. In other words, like all other allies, she has accepted the fortune of war. If the auxiliaries succeed whom her principles have led her to select, she shares in their success; if they fail, she does not escape the consequence of the common failure. She reigned for centuries with the kings of France, and she expiated her prosperity by a period of bitter persecution when they fell. Under the Stuarts she ruled with a high hand, but she took her part in the calamities which their misgovernment entailed. She was upheld by Mr. Pitt and his disciples, and she has suffered as much under the vengeance of Lord Russell and the Whigs as they have ventured to expend upon her. The acceptance of the world's support implies a share in the world's vicissitudes; but on the whole, taking into view the long period which has elapsed from the Church's first establishment to the present, it cannot be said, looking at the matter from the most purely secular point of view, that the policy of political alliances has been unsuccessful. Throughout the whole of that time it has procured her the means in every country of Europe of supporting her ministers and missionaries in independence of popular caprice, and through periods alike of enthusiasm and of lukewarmness; and it has given her everywhere a large share, and in some countries the complete control, of the education of the young. For the sake of comparison it would be desirable to examine instances on the other side, but they are not very easy to find. The wisdom of leaning to some extent upon the arm of the flesh has been so generally and so constantly recognised throughout Christendom, that the case of a Church accepting no patronage and no protection from the State can scarcely be cited. Sects of Christians may be found in all states in any degree free, which are only tolerated by the state in which they live, and do not receive from it either dignity or formal recognition ; but their case is not really in point. They are as truly political in their action and attitude as any Established Church. They may have no special dignity or privileges to defend; but wherever they are not absolutely insignificant they have some accumulated property which they hold under the protection of the state ; they have rights of which they are jealous, a policy which they strive earnestly to promote, and a political organisation for the furtherance of these objects, which they develope with unceasing care. And of all religionists they are commonly the foremost to seek the alliance of politicians, and to give in barter for it the popular influence acquired in the pulpit
or the school. They witness in favour of a policy of political alliance more strikingly than the Established Churches. Those who hold dignities in the State, and take part in the business of secular legislation, cannot, perhaps, help being politicians. Their very duty would force them to work within the sphere of politics, even if their interests did not. But the Dissenting sects are at liberty, if they think fit, to stand aloof from politics altogether. No necessity lies upon them to court the alliance of a political party, or to adopt as a body party views upon political questions that are wholly unconnected with religion. That they voluntarily undertake the costly labour of political action is a sufficient proof that they, like the Established Churches, are convinced that their secular interests would not be secure without it.
Of course if we were rather nearer the Millennium than we seem to be at present, such precautions would be unnecessary. If legislatures were always guided by a sheer sense of right, and never succumbed to a pressure from without; if Ministers were as pure from the suspicion of bribing constituencies with partial legislation, as from that of bribing members with money; if electors never used their constitutional powers for the purpose of advancing their personal or sectional interests, it might be safe for the Church to rely entirely upon their justice, and to abstain from ineasures of self-defence. No body of men would more joyfully lay aside their armour than the supporters of the Church. It is no pleasant occupation to be fighting under a holy banner in the repulsive strife of electioneering politics. It is no light pain to see religious jealousy misconstrued by those who cannot feel it, or to listen while every act of enthusiasm in a sacred cause is being imputed to the grossest personal ambition. But whether the task be pleasant or unpleasant, this is not a period at which it can be renounced. Whatever else may be said of the present age, it is not one of religious calm. These are not times in which the Church can go upon her work in quietness and confidence, free from all fear of attack. If ever the inveterate animosity and unflagging activity of her foes can make it her duty to see to her own defence, that duty is imposed upon her now. "In past times her sons may have been tempted to mistake power for security, and, instead of liberty, to seek the aid of the secular arm in establishing a supremacy over others. But it is no such vain aspiration that is in question now. The struggle is one for bare existence. Not only is her worldly position menaced. The loss of the pecuniary resources in her possession would severely cripple her exertions, until sufficient time had elapsed to enable the affections of her children to replace them. But it is the smallest of the evils by which she is threatened. Her connexion
be so easy.
with the State has placed it in the power of her enemies, if they can gain enough electoral support, not only to despoil her of her possessions, but to lay their hands even upon the faith which she professes. And it is to protect, not only her endowments but her creeds, that Churchmen will for many years to come be called upon to neglect no resources of political warfare that can be made available in her defence,
The danger which is incurred by the Church in this respect is a very peculiar one, and is not often rated so highly as it deserves to be.
It undoubtedly arises from the protection which the Church enjoys from Acts of Parliament: but it is not the less serious on that account. If Parliament were to pass an Act, altering the formularies of the Church, either by inserting any new doctrine, or striking out any phrase which witnessed to an old doctrine, universal resistance would probably be the result. The great mass of the clergy would refuse to read the altered service, and would leave to the civil power the responsibility of enforcing its decrees by penalties, if it should think fit to embark on such an enterprise, But if, instead of a positive alteration of the formularies, Parliament were to content itself with repealing the obligations by which they are enforced, resistance would not
The clergy and the mass of the laity might go on doing their duty. They might in their own spheres adhere steadily to the faith to which they had been baptised. But the process of disintegration might go on around them, and they would be powerless to prevent it. The misconduct of a few powerful patrons, especially those patrons who derive their title from the Government, in such a case would suffice to introduce into the ministry of the Church a large element of open unbelief. If a party that is already strong in the House of Commons were to become predominant, so as to obtain the abolition of tests, and to influence the Church appointments of the Crown, the faith of large portions of the Church would gradually disappear, without any power on the part of the existing Church of England to resist the change. The check which ecclesiastical suits can impose upon even the extremest forms of error is so slender, and of such doubtful value, and the power which the House of Commons can exercise over the Church, through the patronage of the Crown, is so enormous, that if the latitudinarian party ever became thoroughly and permanently masters of the House of Commons, it is no extravagant prediction to make that the character of the Church as an exponent of revealed truth would be almost effaced.
It is not necessary, in order to bring about this result, that the Dissenters, or any of the avowed enemies of the Established
Church, should obtain a majority in the House of Commons. Such a policy would be quite compatible with professions of the most earnest determination to uphold the Establishment. And in the mouths of those who made them, such professions would be perfectly sincere. They would not be destroying the Established Church, as they understand the words. As far as external appearances could be trusted, the Established Church would be still there. Its majestic framework, its elaborate organism would remain seemingly unshaken. Its fabrics would still resound every week with ceremonies to which the name of divine service would be given : its office-bearers would still draw from lands or tithes their appointed sustenance. All that would be gone would be the spirit which animates it, and the creed which it exists to preach. The change that would have come over it if the ultra-Liberal school of politicians have their way will undoubtedly present a phenomenon new to the ecclesiastical historian. It will not be the mere change from one religion to another. Rightly or wrongly such changes have often occurred before, in various times and places. But whether they consisted in the abandonment or the adoption of error, they have always at least resulted in the profession of a religion as definite as that which has been laid aside. Consequently the preaching of the new creed, so far as it is true, has not lost the only conditions under which it can be effective and salutary. But the adoption of a new form of belief is not what the latitudinarian assailants of the Church demand. If any definite form of belief is to be upheld at all, they would probably be as well content with that of the Church of England as any other. What they desire is an Established Church and a religious teaching recognised by the State which shall embody no distinct belief at all. The efforts which are made to this end are probably made with perfect purity of intention, and under a strong conviction that they will bring about a relation between man and his Creator far superior to any that was ever thought of before. But the mass of reflecting Churchmen will feel that such assaults are aiming a deadlier blow at the very existence of the Church than has at any time been levelled by the wildest heresies that were ever devised by human fancy. If there be no faith once delivered to the saints, if there be no Gospel that is to be preached to every creature as the distinct object of belief, the Church's credentials are a forgery, and her mission a self-imposed and futile toil.
It would be a mistake, fraught with disaster, if Churchmen were to suffer themselves to be blinded to the real character of this movement by the apparent friendliness of the language which its promoters use. The day has gone by when any section
of politicians, or thinkers of any class, will be inspired by direct hostility to religion. Like enlightened conquerors, the assailants of the Church in these days do not mean to destroy it, but only to tame it to their use. Perhaps it is the very strangeness of the tactics which are used against them which make Churchmen blind to the dangers which surround them now. In the last century religion generally was the object of hatred to a powerful school of opinion. Its ceremonies, its secular position, its spiritual claims, its moral teaching, were alike the object of reproach and ridicule: and no sect of men calling themselves Christians were exempt from this antipathy. That assault was boldly resisted by the Churchmen of that day at a time when its power seemed irresistible; and after a time its fury died away. The school of thought from which it proceeded, condemned by its own excesses, withered and decayed. In our own day the Church has had to defend herself from enemies of another kind. Her possessions have created envy in sects too scanty in their numbers, and too recent in their origin, to have similar resources at their disposal for the support of their own operations. The Dissenting attack upon the Church has been conducted with great energy and skill, and it cannot yet be spoken of as absolutely past. But the efforts of the last few years have done much to quell it; and have at least proved conclusively that Dissent has no genuine hold upon the affections of the people of this country. Its temporary success in Parliament was one of those advantages which an adroit tactician with inferior numbers can always obtain against an apathetic opponent, but which can only last until that apathy has been dispelled by serious danger. Dissent remains powerless in its own unaided strength to injure the Church, but offering a well-trained and formidable reinforcement to any new enemy
may appear. The new enemy has not delayed his coming. The signs are already showing themselves of the third and greatest of the dangers which the Church of England has had to meet within the last century. This time it is no open opponent that challenges Churchmen to defend the cause they love. Their adversaries are gentlemen who preface every subversive proposition with the assurance that they are "attached members of the Church of England,' and that they only desire to extend her usefulness. In other words, they desire not to spoil the Church, but to use her: not to shatter the gigantic influence they have learnt to admire and to dread, but to master it and to make it obedient to themselves. A Church purged of dogma, disembarrassed of belief, embracing every error and every crotchet within its fold, but retaining its influence for purposes of high police, and devoting all its energies to the foundation of mechanics'