When, in 1833, the Tractarian movement first arose at Oxford, it is remarkable that its leaders, in their important work of restoration and reparation, commenced with explaining and maintaining the doctrine of the Sacraments, and not that of the true nature and character of the Universal Church. This was like carving the pinnacle before securing the foundation. They assumed, but never once attempted to prove, that the established communion in England was identical, in all essential particulars, with the Old Church of the country, and in communion with the Church throughout the world. They started with the assump- tion that of the changes at the " Reformation " had altered its organic life, though the then disorganised religious state of England stared them in the face. Of course this easier method saved them a world of investigation and trouble. Having a solid foundation, as they so obviously believed themselves to possess, they could proceed to build up a superstructure. This, as we know, they did both with system and spirit. In so doing they took for granted that the ordinary historical theories concernmg the changes under Henry VIII., Edward VI., and Elizabeth were, in the main, true and to be depended on. But these theories have turned out to be only theories ; and, though bolstered up for some years under Burnet's tuition, in the face of historical documents which have been brought to light of late, they now no longer hold their ground. They are exploded ; for they were founded only on fraud, fiction, and romance. It is hard to entertain the conviction that, during Queen Elizabeth's reign, the persecutors of the Catholics, men like Grindal, Sandys, Cecil, and Walsingham belonged to the same religious communion as did those poor souls who, on rehgious grounds, endured such virulent persecution at their hands — the Rack, the Scavenger's Daughter, and the Little Ease. The idea of " the Catholic Church," as set forth in the Three Creeds, was wholly different, therefore, in the minds of the persecutors and the persecuted. With the former " the Church was a local or national institu- tion recently made by themselves and Parliament, of which the Queen was the source of all jurisdiction and authority, the lawful bestower of the chief dignities, the final arbiter of all theological and ecclesiastical disputes; in fact, the supreme head or governess. With the latter, as with St. Gregory the Great, it was " evident to all who knew the gospel, that by the Voice of the Lord the care of the whole Church was committed to holy Peter, the prince of all the apostles. . . . For to him it is said, 'Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.' Behold, he receives the keys of the heavenly kingdom ; the power of binding and of loosing is given to him. To him the care atid governntefii of the ivhole Church is committed.'
Part 2 of 2
Topics Elizabeth I, Queen of England, 1533-1603, Church of England, Great Britain -- Church history, genealogy