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nor would it ever have been roused into full activity, as in the days of Burleigh and Hooker, or the days of Strafford and Jeremy Taylor, or (perhaps] even the days of Somers and Tillotson, or the days of the Genii of the Nile and Torres Vedras, without the influence of that Holy Spirit, which an unadulterate Establishment insensibly breathed over these mighty men, and over their contemporaries (whatever their mode of worship) whose several names we will not pause to write down, but which sound like a spell in the ears of their countrymen.
“ Great men have been among us : hands that penned,
And tongues that uttered wisdom, better none.
But in magnanimous weakness."-WordswoRTH. “ What is the justice," demands the Westminster, elsewhere in the same article, “ of denying to the Roman Catholic members, as against the Protestant Church, that power, which the Protestant members assume as against his Church ?”
The question is awkwardly put; we however make answer ... but as we cannot dismiss the subject with a glance, it will not be amiss to lay open our argument somewhat more largely.
It is that policy which runs through the whole course of our history, and has its origin in the predominating feature, which marks and distinguishes the character of Englishmen. It infers the same manly spirit of independence which has always actuated the natives of this island ; which manifested itself in the contemning of the interdict of Innocent; and whereby, when popedom was at its zenith, we are proud to recognize, in the proceedings of our ancestors, our fellow-countrymen. It is the like policy which animated the whole nobility and gentry of England, when in the very teeth of the pope's bull they carried Magna Charta ; and despite his excommunication, with Stephen Langton at their head, stood firm to their purpose. They styled themselves " the Army of God and the Holy Church,” and they looked upon the interference of a foreign pontiff with their insular transactions, with balanced emotions of contempt and indignation.
England has always been anti-papistical. For centuries our Church dreamt not of the supremacy of the see of Rome. With the Anglo-Saxons, bishops were invariably appointed by the Wittenagemot; and even in the reign of the Conqueror, Lanfranc was raised to the see of Canterbury only by consent of parliament.
William Rufus and Henry I. refused permission to their prelates to obey the citation to Rome.
We have already anticipated the independence exhibited by the English nation in the reign of John. So let us pass on. “ The justice of denying to the Roman Catholic par excellence “ the power which the Protestant members assume against his “ Church,” the reviewer, if he please, may discover in a solemn remonstrance drawn up so early as the reign of the Third Henry, in the name of the whole nation, against the encroachments of Rome,.. a remonstrance proclaimed and asserted by the English envoys at the Council of Lyons.
The same temper prevailed in Scotland. Alexander III., with the concurrence of the church, refused the legate of Clement IV. permission to enter his dominions. Edward I. wholly disregarded the bull issued by Boniface, forbidding the Clergy to pay any contribution to the state; and in the same reign our noble ancestors placed the first barrier to the usurpation of Rome. They addressed a letter to Boniface VIII. disclaiming his temporal supremacy over their crown. In the reign of Edward III. the penal statutes of provisors were enacted, whereby church patronage was transferred from the pope of Rome to the king of England.
“ The justice of denying to the Roman Catholics of the present day the power” of legislating for our Church, or of embodying themselves in Ireland into a church of their own, is to be sought in their having no feeling in common,...in their want of national sympathy with our ancestors of A. D. 1350. From those men we derive and inherit the grounds of our distaste for that scoria amongst us which, drossy as it is, indicates the precious mine of the nation. From their example we are taught to distrust and hold at arm's length that slavish recrement, ... that spurcities of the state, which would defer their constitutional duties to a foreign allegiance,... to taking side with a Becket or a Bonner.
England as a nation has been uniformly religious, and influenced by a love of independence. She has been consistent from the beginning. In the succeeding reign of Richard II. the great penal statute of præmunire was passed, whereby a stop was intended to be put for ever to the pope's usurpation of church patronage in the British empire.
If the Romanists in these kingdoms of the present day would in like manner disclaim the encroachments of a foreign pontiff, if they were governed by similar English, insular, proud feelings as our countrymen of yore, instead of being, as they are, utterly fores familiarized, and the most ultra-papistical religionists in Europe,...there would be no justice whatever in “ denying them the same power which the Protestant members assume" against their anti-national church.
They “ assume” it, not because of any obnoxious tenet, purely theological, but on like patriotic grounds that (as we have shown) it was claimed, and, to the fullest extent that circumstances permitted, maintained and acted upon, by the kings, the nobility, and the gentry of England, for many centuries anterior to the Reformation,... for, long before, Martin Luther denounced in the face of the world, those “weak inventions of the enemy," with which, during the dark night of Gothic ignorance, the simple purity of the holy catholic faith had been contaminated and overlaid.
* Plin. xxxiii. 4.
Art. VII.-1. An Act for Marriages in England. 2. An Act for registering Births, Deaths, and Marriages in
England. [17th August, 1836.]
WHEN these “great measures” (so called by their authors) were ushered into legal existence, we presume that many of the members of both Houses, being likewise members of the Church of England, were either absent, or not aware of what was passing; or perhaps they imagined that the laws about to be enacted, were but for establishing a general registry, to which few persons
kind of objection. Be it so or not, we are assured, that any turnpike, or common enclosure act, would have excited far more thought and debate than were bestowed on these acts of parliament, so important in their consequences.
When, as bills, they were sent back to the Commons, with the Lords' amendments, such was the indecent haste and effrontery of the originators of these "measures,” that they declared, whilst they deemed the bills incomplete, it was better for the country to suppose that these things were done thus badly than not done at all: "it was such an advantage to have the bills passed !”—not forgetting, at the same time, their usual hackneyed, hollow, and unmeaning cant, that "they were content with having obtained the admission of the PRINCIPLE of these two GREAT measures :" and thus, at the fag end of the session, these beauteous bills were hurried into laws, with all their acknowledged imperfections on their heads, to be afterwards patched, plastered, and altered, as occasion might require.
The first of the acts is replete with mischief, involving consequences of import to the Established Church; and therefore the first number of The CHURCH OF ENGLAND QUARTERLY Review would, indeed, ill deserve that title, if some of its pages were not devoted to the discussion of an innovation, trenching on holy ground, like this law for marriages in England; and although the two laws are cunningly blended together by one of the provisions of the new Marriage Act, we shall more particularly address ourselves to the consideration of that act of parliament, it being our opinion that the business of registration of births and deaths, thus incorporated with it, is a mere colour, a pretext, a trick to make the bitter pill go down, and to throw difficulties in the way of a repeal of this new marriage law, or of its most offensive enactments: and if our exposition of its dangerous tendency, and of its certain bad principles (whenever it exhibits any principle at all), can lead to such a favourable result as the repeal of this odious law, before the second of March next, we shall rejoice exceedingly at having lent our assistance to further that object, so devoutly to be wished.
The hope of being instrumental in effecting so desirable an end, induces us to give precedence to the consideration of this new code before many other subjects of vital interest to the Church of England, and also arising out of Whig-Radical legislation. If we show that this law will be not only vexatious and oppressive, inconvenient and expensive in its operation, but injurious and dissatisfactory in various respects, then we think it must follow, that whatever more wholesome provisions the next session of parliament may substitute, their first act should, and their best act would, be the instant repeal of this production, so ill-favoured, disjointed, and imperfect,
“Deform’d, unfinished, sent before [its] time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up." It so happens, that in discussing the propriety or impropriety of a modern act of parliament, it is in vain that we endeavour to seek its principles (properly so called) otherwise than by entering upon the tedious process of examining minutely each of its clauses and provisions. Thus, in order clearly to present to our readers our opinions respecting these statutes, we are reduced to the necessity of taking, in detail, almost every section separately; and, consequently, in commenting on the two laws, consisting together of 95 sections, the length of the present article is unavoidable, especially since we deem by far the greater portion of those clauses highly objectionable.
It is our intention to give an honest and correct, though rapid view of both statutes; but first, and principally, of the Marriage Act, and to point out some of the certain inconveniences which must occur, if that statute, in its present ungainly shape, be permitted to come into action. For this purpose, we have not far to travel.
The first section presents us with one of the many thousand specimens of careless legislation of the present day, no matter how important the subject. If the clause be according to our comprehension, it is thus:--That the registrar's certificate, as thereinafter provided, is to supply the place of the publication of banns; and the Protestant clergyman, on production of that certificate, is to solemnize the marriage as though he had actually published the banns. Now, it so happens, that there is no such registrar's certificate thereinafter provided; the only registrar's certificate being the certificate schedule (D) referred to by the 24th section, and which is of a quite different kind. The certificate of notice of an intended marriage (the one contemplated by the first section) is always to be the certificate of the superintendent registrar, and never of the registrar; although (as is the constant case in this kind of idle attempt at legislation,) the schedules containing the forms referred to in particular clauses of the act differ essentially from the directions contained in those clauses. Thus we shall see that section 4 directs a notice, according to the form schedule (A), to be given to the superintendent registrar; and on referring to that form, we find it addressed to the registrar; whereas, there may not at the time be any such officer, for his continuance in office is dependant on the caprice of the superintendent registrar, by whom he is created, to whom he is subordinate, and by whom he is liable to be dismissed. He is thus the subordinate of a subordinate of others.
Again, by section 7, the certificate directed to be given by the superintendent registrar, refers to the form shedule (B.), which form is, in that schedule, in three several places, erroneously called the registrar's certificate; whereas the proper signature (as we have this moment seen) is that of the superintendent registrar, and of him alone. To render every thing relative to this certificate as vague as possible, it is directed, by section 16, that the superintendent's certificate is to be delivered to the officiating minister, if the marriage is to be solemnized according to the rites of the Church of England; and the word “registrar" is altogether omitted.
Now, we contend that this is not a cavilling, technical objection, as to matter of form only, but it is matter of substance, of thus far serious consequence, that, if the certificate be not that which is prescribed by this law to supply the place of banns, it cannot be acted upon, as a legal foundation and groundwork for the marriage.
If there were words in the statute to make the act of the superintendent registrar, the act of the registrar, and vice versa, then this palpable defect might be cured; but there being no such words, the question arises :- How is a clergyman of the Church of England to proceed, when such a certificate is produced to him, signed by the registrar only, or only by the superintendent registrar, or by both, where no banns have been published ? It is impossible, in either case, that the terms of the statute, with regard to the certificate, can have been complied with, inasmuch as the sections 1, 7, and 16, and the schedule (B.) are utterly at variance with each other; and therefore such certificate, under the act of parliament, according to