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process as dishonest would involve bringing an indictment against the whole process of religious development.
The opinion, then, of the man on the street has but little value on the question of the interpretation of the Creeds. The subject is too subtle, too complicated; it involves also the possibility of real meanings, and apparent meanings, of unconscious modifications, under the influence of the spirit of the age, which is forever changing. To ask a Roman Catholic what his judgment would be on the inversion of meaning in the phrase," the Holy Catholic Church," would bring an answer condemning the Anglican Church to the guilt of dishonest subterfuge and evasion. But such a verdict would have little significance, although to his mind it would be a question of simple honesty-professing to believe in the Holy Catholic Church when the historic sense of the phrase had been abandoned.
There is no universally recognized court of appeal in organized Christianity to which these questions can be submitted, in the confidence of an intelligent, impartial, and satisfactory judgment. And certainly, least of all, can the judgment of those have any value, who, having discarded creeds, insist that honesty in others who retain them calls for rigid adherence to their
face meaning and in the most literal fashion, regardless of the variety of interpretation which history has sanctioned. The object of those who seek in this way to impugn the honesty of the clergy is clear enough; they are performing a double duty, not only advocating honesty and sincerity in general, but making it so disagreeable a task where creeds are concerned as to lead to the abandonment of creeds altogether. Which of these two motives predominates, it is not necessary here to determine. But any one who looks a little closely into the matter may be excused for thinking that this unattainable ethical standard for creed subscription, urged by those who have rejected creeds, involves a primary purpose in controversial theology, or sectarian rivalry.
There are other illustrations in history which show that the accusation of dishonesty against the clergy must be taken at least with some qualifications. In the ecclesiastical as in the political sphere, it may be possible that the use of such strong terms, as dishonesty, perjury, treachery, too often repeated, and against persons of otherwise upright character, will lose their force and come to have a merely partisan meaning. Thus the charge of breaking the solemn vows of consecration to the epis
copate was brought against Archbishop Cranmer and other English bishops - to say nothing of the large number of English clergy — and against professed monks in the Reformation who broke their monastic vows. The mind of Catholic Europe was aghast at Martin Luther, who threw his ordination and monastic vows t the winds, as having no obligation whatever on a free Christian man who had rediscovered the true Gospel of Christ. Another illustration may be cited as bearing on the question of clerical honesty in more recent times.
In the Autobiography of Isaac Williams, who was a friend of the late Cardinal Newman, is this statement (p. 125): "Newman said to Copeland, 'Could you sign the Thirty-nine Articles? I could not."" But this was in Newman's Anglican days, and he had already made his subscription to the Articles. His mind was undergoing a change, he had really repudiated the Articles, but he did not propose in consequence to leave the Church of England. His thought was moving Romewards, some of his disciples had already left the Church of England for Rome and others were preparing to follow. The Thirty-nine Articles, taken in the sense of their compilers, made it impossible for them to remain. Then Newman was moved
to assault the citadel of Anglican liberty, not from without but from within. He wrote a treatise, the famous Tract XC, in which he aimed to show that the Articles had been so loosely or inadvertently drawn that they might be grammatically construed into a sense opposite to their original purport. By the aid of his unrivalled dialectic, he traversed the Articles and reversed their meaning, till it almost seemed as if the object of the Protestant reformers had been to reunite the Anglican Church with the Church of Rome. The Thirty-nine Articles were made to seem patient of an interpretation which harmonized them with the definitions of the Council of Trent. It is a familiar story- the consternation into which England was thrown, which finds its only parallel in the ancient church, in the time of the Arian controversy. From that moment Newman's days in the Anglican Church were numbered. But nothing that he ever wrote or confessed showed that the attempt to undo the Thirty-nine Articles rested upon his conscience. His devoted friend and admirer, Dr. Pusey, who refused to follow him, defended the effort to "reinterpret" the Articles. On the basis of this reinterpretation, which reversed their original purport, many were enabled to remain in the Church of England who must
otherwise have left. From this time a "Catholic" sense was imposed on the formularies of the Book of Common Prayer, and apparently with a clear conscience. A new school arose who appropriated as their own the Anglican Church, making it over to suit their own convenience, till at last those who sought to stand on the foundations of the Reformation appeared as no better than traitors to God and humanity.
In questions about the interpretation of the Creed, the judgment of the "man on the street" has no value, even though it find vigorous and severe expression in the utterances of the secular. press. For the "man on the street does not care a rap about dogmatic formularies and subtleties," and it is just these very things which are at issue. In the matter of religion, no amount of business training or skill in journalism or knowledge of affairs is of any avail. Religion has its own laws, it is guided by deep motives, which only those interested or, as it were, obsessed by them can understand.
Let us take an example. In Old Testament history we read how the brethren of Joseph sold him a captive to traders going down into Egypt. They acted with a definite purpose and for this very end. They were responsible for their deed. But when, years afterward, they themselves were