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crisis, and held together by the force of a momentous common cause, when set against the solid and concentrated strength of a single giant power. Such an army, fired with high enthusiasm, and sustained by the might of a great principle, may prove invincible for the moment; and in a single battle, or a brief campaign, the power of mind vindicates its supremacy over the brute force of legions. But in a lingering warfare its effective strength becomes less and less. The crisis and the cause were the very breath of its life; and as the power of these dies away, its strength departs, and disorganization and dissolution supervene. Sectional differences and jealousies arise; mutual confidence and unity of action are destroyed; it is no more an army, but a crowd. Meanwhile the adverse power slowly but surely rallies and concentrates its force, and prepares for a fresh and now irresistible advance. So it is, in like manner, that while Protestantism is invincible in a crisis, Romanism profits by time and by delay. The strength of the one is in the storm, of the other in the calm. Romanism can afford to wait. It can bide its time. It can yield to-day, that it may the more surely advance to-morrow. It can bend before the blast, that it may lift up its head again when the storm is over. It is of this generation, and the next, and the next; and the points it has been compelled to surrender to-day, it may seize again uncontested in the days of our children or our children's children. Protestantism, on the other hand, is impulsive and explosive. Its combined action is spasmodic, not constant. Now, at the loud call of God and of events, it arises in its strength, and shakes itself, and the armies of the aliens flee before it; and then anon it becomes quiescent and goes to sleep again. So was it of old in the great contest between the vast Persian despotism on the one hand, and the free states of Greece on the other. In quiet times the solid mass and concentrated energy of the great barbaric power advanced steadily onward; one by one the outlying settlements of the Hellenic race and the free cities succumbed beneath its power; and still with irresistible might it moved forward, nearer and nearer, to the central and sacred citadel of freedom itself. Meanwhile the parent states were at war among themselves; endless jealousies and rivalries held them asunder; Sparta strove with Athens, and Athens with Sparta. Thus the whole nation was dissolved into its elements, and seemed rather a multitude of separate tribes than one free and mighty people; till all at once, at the sound of the invaders' footsteps on their own common soil, the whole of the Hellenic race arose as from the dead, and were as one man, and the glories of Marathon and of Salamis remain to tell to all time how mighty in the hour of crisis is the power of mind over the mere brute force of numbers and of external,
mechanical organization. Such, we believe, is substantially the relation in which Protestantism stands, and must ever stand, towards the great Roman power. The strength of the one lies in organic unity, the other in free thought. The one prevails through its agencies, the other through its principles. The one deals subtly with the individual, the other appeals openly to the common reason and common conscience. The one advances stealthily and in secret, the other courts a fair fight and an open field. The one, in fine, thrives best in the calm, the other in the storm. It was, therefore, a priori, most probable that Romanism would recover in course of time much of the ground it had lost during the great Reformation struggle; and in particular, in the course of a long peace of nearly two hundred years, its revival might be regarded, humanly speaking, as a question simply of place and of time. As the strength of Protestantism lies in its principles, without which it is weakness itself, it was inevitable that those points where those principles were but feebly held or practically denied, should in time give way before the concentrated assaults of the great antagonist power. They become, so to speak, in a military point of view, untenable. Romanism, it should never be forgotten, has its own peculiar elements of strength, and these must ever prove irresistible when not met by antagonist principles mightier still. What has happened, then, in our day is nothing more than might beforehand have been predicted as probable; nor has it come a moment sooner than might have been expected. Indeed, but for the deep torpor of the eighteenth century, adjourning all serious religious questions, and the intense national antipathy which, till a few years back, refused the agents of Rome even a hearing on English ground, the portentous phenomenon which has startled our age might have come several generations sooner.
Hitherto we have been speaking of the advantage which the organic unity of the Roman system gives for combined, concentrated action; but it must be remembered, also, that the very spectacle of such a unity, considered in itself, has a powerful, almost irresistible fascination for some minds. Tossed on a sea of doubt, and distracted amid the strife of conflicting parties and creeds, and with no sure personal grounding on the immutable rock of truth, men even of keen speculative intellect, but of feeble moral strength, will naturally feel powerfully the attraction of a system holding out the prospect of perfect unity and absolute certainty,-of a quiet asylum, on whose very threshold all doubt shall end, and the din of controversy die away, and may thus be willing to escape from the perplexities of their own reason in the abnegation of all reason at the foot of a blind unquestioning authority. Such
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has been the course of many an earnest, and in some respects gifted spirit, in our day; and such, doubtless, will be the course of many another, as this great struggle proceeds.
II. If the Protestant body, as a whole, is deficient in organic unity and compact coherence, the CHURCH OF ENGLAND in particular is scarcely less so. It is scarcely more at one within itself, than the most diverse actions of evangelic Protestantism are among each other. Nominally one, it is in reality many. We do not now refer alone to that which is so palpable to every one, in the strife of parties, and the extreme diversity of opinions and views tolerated within her pale; but to the total absence of any central and controlling power, or any one pervading and binding principle, in its constitution and frame-work. It is rather, in fact, an assemblage of distinct and independent powers and agencies, bound together by an artificial tie, than one corporate and living whole. Without any proper head of life and action, without proper subordination of members, without any power of united action, either deliberative or executive, it obviously cannot, in any strict sense, be said to possess either corporate existence or organic life. It has, indeed, a nominal head of authority and administration; and the form, at least, of a great representative assembly. But the convocation is as yet but a ghost of the past, and the primacy of all England little more than a name. The metropolitan seat of Canterbury is a pre-eminence rather of dignity and precedence merely, than of real authority,-the mere impersonation of the majesty of the church, rather than the central and influential organ of its activity. Beyond the limits of his own diocese, where he executes the usual functions of an ordinary, the actual authority of the metropolitan is in a great degree nominal. Each diocese forms by itself a separate unity, and the suffragan bishop reigns within his own domain in practical independence of his canonical superior. Within this narrower sphere, again, the same practical disorganization prevails. The diocese, secure from external control, presents within its own borders the same medley of separate powers. The bishop, the dean and chapter, the episcopal courts, the incumbents, and patrons of each parish, each move at large in their prescribed sphere, and discharge their statutory functions, apart. from, and independent of, each other. The episcopal function itself is in large measure a matter of pageantry and form. Limited on every side by statute law, hedged around by separate and independent powers, with little discretionary authority of any kind, without any means of gathering the effective energies of the diocese into one, and wielding its manifold agencies toward any one definite purpose, the bishop's power is confined, in great measure, to the
moral influence of his position, and his labours are mainly limited to a stately routine. For the rest, things take their course, and the diocese governs itself.
Thus from age to age the vast and complex machine goes on, not through the impelling force of any one moving power, but by the separate action of the individual and co-ordinate parts. The life is in the members, rather than in the body as a whole. The bishops perform their visitations, hold ordinations, confirm children, deliver charges, consecrate churches, license curates and institute incumbents, preside at public meetings, patronise societies, sit in parliament. Deans and chapters hold their statutory courts, manage or mismanage cathedral trusts, execute congé d'elire, and chant the choral service. The universities assemble their convocations, and grant degrees, and send forth from all their colleges their annual streams, either of fervent Evangelism or rampant Puseyism, or latitudinarian laxity, or mere lifeless inanity, as the case may be, without let or hinderance from any quarter. The ecclesiastical courts drag on from year to year their drowsy existence, unnoticed and unregarded by the world at large, save when now and then some notable case disturbs the dust of Doctors' Commons, and the din of it rings from the Bishops' Court to the Arches, and from the Arches to the Privy Council, till its echoes die away amid the dingy courts and halls of the Exchequer and Queen's Bench. The great societies hold their anniversaries, adopt their reports, pass resolutions, and circulate their vital agencies throughout the world, while bishops and archbishops sit the while simply as members. In fact, each individual parish is in great measure a separate principality, and the character of the Church's ministrations in any place depends far more on the will of the irresponsible patron, or the fortunes of the auction room, than on the united power of the whole episcopate, the whole clergy, and the whole public opinion of the Church, put together. And such is the strange, complex, unwieldy, unmanageable abstraction called by a certain laxity of language the Church of England.
Now we do not for a moment deny that this state of things has its own peculiar and very important advantages. In particular, it secures to the individual the largest amount of personal liberty of thought and action compatible with any degree of church organization. It shuts out irresponsible power. It precludes undue centralization. It renders an oppressive and stifling despotism impossible. Men have free air to breathe, and full scope and liberty to do their duty, if they have any mind to do it, as in God's sight, and answerable alone to him. Above all, it is an all-sufficient recommendation to the practical English mind, that, on the whole, it works well. With much waste, much abuse, and many anomalies, still the Church of
England as she is, has been and is the source of an untold amount of good. She has been, he knows, the main bulwark and glory of the Reformation, and has conferred more blessings on England and the world than any one other institution; and therefore with all her faults he loves her still. There are, besides, many minds of deep philosophic cast, who, resting far less faith in abstract theories of perfection, whether in church or state, than on what has actually grown up and become a living existence among men, are disposed to acquiesce in the present state of things, just because it is, and has been, and so has come to form almost a part of the national and religious life of the people.* They would not, indeed, defend any thing which was distinctly wrong in itself, or deprecate the cautious and gradual removal of proved abuses and defects;—still they would hold it as no sufficient objection to the system as a whole, provided it manifested real life and energy for good, and in large measure fulfilled its end, merely that it was irreconcilable with any abstract theory of perfection. There are others, however, who cannot be thus satisfied. At once of a fervent spirit and of a theoretic cast of mind, their very element is a theoretic perfection. They are votaries of an ideal. Hence, that which they fondly seek in the Church of England is precisely that in which the Church of England is most glaringly wanting. She realises no theory. She satisfies no ideal. She sets at defiance all abstract principles of fitness and perfection. She abounds with anomalies and contradictions of all kinds, which at once baffle theory and stagger common sense. Bishops invested in theory with almost unlimited authority, yet in practice shorn almost of all real power; deans and chapters gathered in solemn assembly to "elect another bishop in the Church of God," yet bound under the heaviest penalties of law to elect only one; the faithful solemnly summoned in the public congregation to offer objections, if they have any, to the confirmation of the bishop-elect, yet debarred by all the terrors of a premunire from uttering a word; convocations assembling only to look at each other, and then dissolve; the Church defined to be a "congregation of faithful people," yet in practice identical with the British nation; solemn and affecting rites, from their very language manifestly belonging only to those who die in the faith, yet the vested right of every English subject;-these, and other such like anomalies and contradictions, not only form a terrible stumblingblock to the class of minds we are now referring to, but impart to the whole system to which they belong a certain aspect of hollowness and unreality in deep dissonance with the earnest and searching spirit of the age. Men of theory, men of scrupulous conscience, men of strong bias toward general principles, and * E. g., Archdeacon Hare and his class.