Leonard Woolsey Bacon.

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College, a Unitarian, twenty-three years old, making the
grand tour. On the way to Some he falls in with
Gardiner, an Episcopalian minister of magnificent personal
appearance, with " white and very handsome hands," and
u high and ample forehead," and to him he opens some of
his sceptical difficulties. At Home, he is present at the
death-bed of a college classmate, when Gardiner admi-
nisters the Lord's Supper. Maurice looks on, never
before having seen this ordinance, as much interested as
an intelligent Pagan might have been in the absolute
novelty of it. He discovers, to his amazement, the,
indications of there having been an ancient Christian
church in Borne, and is becoming interested in
Gardiner's explanations of the facts in a 4f Protestant



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78 CONFESSIONS OF A HIGH-CHURCHMAN.

Episcopalian" sense, when he is drawn insidiously into
an ambuscade, through a mysterious letter, by that
dreadful, though somewhat familiar character, the "Jesuit
in disguise." Snatched by Gardiner from this Scylla, he
steers easily clear of the Charybdis of the American
chapel, where he finds incompatible contradictions in the
preaching, on successive Sundays, of Christian ministers
of different denominations. Just at this juncture he meets,,
under interesting circumstanQes, with an altogether
bewitching little Quakeress turned Episcopalian, from
Philadelphia, who goes through and through his affections
by the insidious but irresistible process of asking his advice
and guidance, at their first meeting, on a question of duty
concerning her baptism. He goes to church with her at
the English chapel, where he is deeply impressed (of all
things in the world!) with the solemnity of the Com-
mination Service ! and when, after church, in answer to his
declaration, "but I am not an Episcopalian," she looks
up with her lovely eyes, and says, u You will be ; nothing
else will satisfy you; something tells me that you will"
— the reader with half an eye, discerns that it is all up
with poor Maurice, and that u fate and metaphysical aid"
will do the business for him by the time he gets to the
last chapter. On the homeward trip, he has the charming
creature for a fellow-passenger aboard the u Mystic "
(Arctic), and when the unhappy steamer is about going
down after a collision, she has a fresh presentiment, and
assures him that " something tells her" that he will come
out right after all.

When the hero finds himself ashore, safe and thankful,
he goes with earnest and serious purposes to Cambridge
Divinity School, to prepare for the Unitarian ministry.



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CONFES8IONS OF A HIGH-CHURCHMAN. 79

He finds the institution swamped with scepticism and
utter infidelity; and all his classmates (excepting one,
who ultimately turns Episcopalian) are men without faith,
earnestness, or common honesty, and some of them with-
out decent morality. Nevertheless, his hopes of a Church
of the Future, and the wily managing of politic old foxes
of the Unitarian clergy, keep him for the present, and he
goes to Norowam, filled with nameless longings for valid
ordination, and yet resolved to take charge of the
Universalist Church in that village. Here he becomes
a fellow boarder at the hotel with the young Episcopalian
minister, Eev. Alfred Winthrop, and the Kev. Augustine
Ralston, pastor of the Congregational Church. The
former was

u Evidently young, quite young. His hair, quite long and with
something of a wave, was very fine and silken and brushed back
from his brow. It fell round the smooth oval of a face whose
perfect features, in their almost womanish perfection, had a
marked likeness to that beautiful ideal which the Italian painters
have chosen for St. John the Divine." He sung church-music
u with a voice evidently ot high culture and great natural
sweetness.' '

The representative Congregationalist, however unable
to stand in comparison with this Adonis, is nevertheless
remarkable among Mr. Maurice's non-Episcopalian
acquaintances for possessing some redeeming qualities.
He was u a keen, wary, yet genial man, very fond of art,
with an uncultivated indiscriminate fondness," — " well,
but diffusely read, extraordinarily independent in his
views, and loving to air them in controversy ;" — yet "not
quarrelsome, far from it; — gentlemanly, kindly, and
thoroughly even-tempered." Per contra, he had those



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80 CONFESSIONS OF A HIGH CHURCHMAN.

dark, insidious traits, that insincerity of opinion, and that
feline craftiness with a selfish view to personal or sectarian
aggrandizement, which seem to Mr. Mitchell's generous
observation to be the characteristic traits of the ministers
of Christ in Congregational churches. He had u grown up
in a school which regards all opinions rather as the foils
with which you show your skill in fence, than as the
sword with which one fights for life and death." u He was
an honest and Christian man in his way, but had been
educated into a morality in religious politics not unworthy
of Liguori. It is the result of that utter absorption of
religion into a pure technicality and formalism, which is
the proper sequence of an attempt at a bodiless
spirituality. This is the cardinal mischief of New England
Puritanism."

Under the winning influence of the saintly example of
Winthrop, who is a model of religious devotedness to his
work, and under the influence of a large number of
fascinating and delightful girls, who are represented as
holding the key to good society fn Norowam, and as
using it with a single view to the interests of the
Episcopal denomination, and who have a singular habit
of u reading his very soul" by moonlight, and saying to
him in portentous tones, u Something tells me, Mr. Maurice,
that you will yet kneel at that altar" — it is no wonder
that the young man at last succumbs to the force of
circumstances, Gardiner comes in opportunely at the last
of these oracular utterances, clinches his resolutions with
a few common-place arguments, a hundred times refuted,
and the upshot of the story is that Maurice is off for
Broadwater in a twinkling, to get his theology ^rectified
and his ordination u validated." Once more he has a turn



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COOTESJWONS OF A fiIOH-CHU»CHMAN. #1

of hesitation, but at the opportune moment another lovely
woman appears upon the seene, ^claiawiag, u 0,
Mr. Maurice, do ! I am sure you ought. I know you will
never feel contented till you do; 4 ' — this laet argument
settles him, and " he takes the morning train for Broad-
water." The pretty Quakeress miyacraloBsJy reappears to
him, at the cbsuneel of a love of a stone churoh in
Philadelphia, aAl stone, outside and in, and they are
married and live in a love of a parsonage built for Maurice
hy one of those very Norowam girls who used to assure
him that u something told them " he would preach in a
gown and hands before he died. And as for the only
decent man among his Cambridge theological classmates,
he cornea out at the same result by way of the Roman
CathoKc church, and goes slap into a first-class city
parish, with a first-rate chance for u the solemn cares —
the dread responsibilities of a Missionary Bishopric."
With which climax the book concludes.

We need not speak particularly of the subordinate
characters ; they may be briefly described as follows : —

Sundry Episcopalian ministers, all of the very finest
personal appearance, sweet voices, superior intellectual
and spiritual qualities, and costumes regardless of



Several Episcopalian laymen, also of noble appearance
and superior virtue.

Chorus of Episcopalian young ladies, all of remarkable
personal beauty, the very highest fashion, and the sweetest
piety, devoted to good works, Easter lilies, and altar-
cloths, and young non-Episcopalian ministers in an
interesting state of mind.

Certain ministers of other denominations, all of them



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82 CONFESSIONS OF A HIGH-CHUKCHMAN.

self-seekers, without religious sincerity or earnestness, or
any personal beauty, or voices, or fine clothes, worth
mentioning.

A number of young ladies, not Episcopalians, commonly
not of good social position nor good looks, and with
serious blemishes of character.

u Citizens generally," male and female, outside of the
Episcopal church, mostly illiterate, and of the grade of
u trades-people."

Jesuits (in disguise).

To come to the main points of instruction in Mr. Mitch-
ell's express or implied confessions, we note :

I. How ignorant a Boston-bred and Harvard-graduated
man may be probably supposed to be, of everything
outside of the Unitarian sect in Massachusetts.

Mr. Mitchell, who is an accepted contributor to the
Atlantic, and by no means to be reckoned an uncultivated
man, represents his double, an accomplished young
gentleman, with a taste for biblical study, at the mature
age of twenty-three, finishing his education by foreign
travel. In the midst of Italy he does not know a word
of Italian — a point which is confirmed by the fact that
the book rarely ventures a quotation in a foreign tongue
without coming to grief with it. He is absolutely ignorant
of English politics and theology, and when u the talk is of
Newman, and Gladstone, and Mr. Ward, and the Bishop
of Exeter, and the Gorham case," it is u pure Sanscrit to
the young New Englander." He has never seen the
administration of the Lord's Supper; submits without a
murmur to be referred to the "original Latin" of the
New Testament ; discovers, after protracted studv, that



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CONFESSIONS OF A HIGH-OHUKCHMAN. 83

the New Testament consists of books of different dates,
and after a long period of exegetical research at
Cambridge, comes, much to his surprise, upon the recondite
fact that our Lord's ascension did not occur immediately
upon his resurrection, but forty days afterwards. He hears
the Magnificat chanted, and on inquiring the source of so
fine a lyric, he is quite amazed and incredulous at being
told that it is in the gospel according to Luke. He is
driven to his wits' end in conversation, in consequence of
not knowing the meaning of the word u catholic." No
wonder, then, that knowing so little about what concerns
his own religion, he should suffer even to the end from
the most amazing ignorance about other people's. Having
attended high mass at St. Peter's on Christmas day, he
thinks u the elevation of the Host was very fine, but what
meaning is there in it all ? What is the Host ? I'm sure
I don't know." He doesn't know what is the ecclesiastical
meaning of u confirmation." He is told, as a piece of rare
and exquisite erudition, that the Athanasian creed is not
the authentic work of Athanasius. Of course he and the
Eev. Mr. Mitchell both believe the raw-head-and-bloody-
bones representation of Calvinism, and suppose that
Christian congregations are taught by Evangelical
preachers, that Christ did not die for infants or the non-
elect, and that one u will be converted, if he is to be,
when his time comes, and won't be before that for all his
trying ; and that until that, he can't make things worse
or better."

Is it possible — Mr. Mitchell assures us that it is, and
he ought to know — that Unitarian young gentlemen, of
the first families in Massachusetts, are tumbled out from
the nest of their Dura Mater at Cambridge, in such a



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£1 00WB88IONS OF A HIGH-CHUKCHMAN.

painfully callow and unfledged (condition ? Axe they really
undefended, exeept as they carry about upon their heads
the broken egg-shell of early prejudice against orthodoxy
as something vulgar, from the attacks of the first u Jesuit
in disguise/' who quotes at them the New Testament from
u the original Latin/' or the first Episcopalian who
u startles" Hiem with his notions of English church
history ? And are they wont to be dumb-foundered, in
foreign society, at the commonest words and allusions in
English literature and politics? Can it be that local
antipathy to the unabridged and illustrated edition ©f
Webster's Dictionary has led to such results ? These are
questions for Mr. Mitchell to settle with his old instructors
and college friends ; and we acknowledge that, between
the two parties, there is a very, considerable presumption
in favor of the college. But if we are driven to aceept
his representations as against himself, it does much to
clear up the story of Bryan Maurice's conversion to high
churchism, and sheds light upon the second point of his
confessions, to wit :

II. Into what narrowness of feeling it is possible for a
somewhat intelligent and Christian gentleman to be
trained, in the High-Church faction of the Episeopal
-denomination.

The real argument of u Bryan Maurice," and we do not
doubt the sincerity with which it is offered, is, that holiness
of life, intelligent faith, pastoral fidelity and self-denial,
devout and imposing worship, gentlemanly culture and
female loveliness, are found in the Episcopal Church, and
therefore stand in some relation of necessary sequence with
Apostolical succession. The critical point of Maurice's
conversion is, when, being called to the remorseful bedside



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COHFESSKHfS OF A mGH-ClTORCHMAW. 85

of a bad man, he finds that hi* TJnitarianism gives him
nothing to say which can relieve the conscience and save
the sinner. His Episcopalian friend is called in, and
delivers to the wretched man the gospel — with a stiff
churchiness «t manner, but the same good news, neverthe-
less, of an almighty Saviour, which comforts the souls of
true believers in every land and age, — and on the Saviour
Uras set forth the sick man trusts, to the saving of his
soul. Maurice is touched and impressed, as well he may
he ; and at once, with an induction worthy of Mrs, U ick-
leby's best moods, he infers that it u must be something
in the leather," — that it was the " authority" of a "valid
ordination" with which the thing was done, which made
the main difference between himself and his neighbor.
And at this day, preaching the gospel with great sincerity
and fidelity, and with good success, we have no doubt that
he really believes in his heart that he owes that success
to the u authority " of his " valid ordination," and that
he is honoring the divinely appointed means of the
world's salvation, when he trains himself, and tries to
train others, into the belief that that vast body of prayer-
ful and self-denying ministers of Jesus Christ, which lies
outside of his pin-fold, are mere talkers of unfruitful talk,
mere u technicalists and formalists," and that the true
followers of the Saviour are pretty much all Protestant
Episcopalians.

It requires an effort to adjust the vision of ordinary
readers to a focus at which they can fairly see the
microscopic narrowness of mind and feeling implied in the
Mitchell-Maurice position. Stating it, we fear lest we
shall seem to be caricaturing it, or lest it shall be inferred



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86 CONFESSIONS OF A HIGH-CHUKCHMAN.

to be not the actual position of the author's mind, but the
position of attack upon others into which he rushes, for a
moment, in the heat of controversy. But simply and
soberly, it is this : that the usage of worship and the
church organization of a portion of the population of the
southern part of one of the islands off the coast of Western
Europe, has a divine and exclusive claim to be accepted
and followed by the entire population of America ! The
Act of Parliament, commonly known as the u Book of
Common Prayer," is a divine u pattern given in the
mount," and so far as any act of worship deviates from
this, it loses in beauty, and majesty, and spirituality.
The rites of the Roman Church he finds to be u tedious "
and u ludicrous;" and in the simplicity of outward form
with which the overwhelming majority of his fellow-
Christians in America earnestly worship God, he can see
nothing but absurdities on which he may practice his
cleverish little sarcasms. Even the ritual variations and
u beautiful garments " with which some of his brethren
pardonably seek to diversify the endless repetition of their
" Dearly-beloved-brethren," are repudiated by him, and
nothing is truly impressive but a pied gown, black and
white, and the Dearly-beloved-brethren straight, three
times a day. All immigrants to this country, whatever
their national and ecclesiastical antecedents, become de
jure members of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and are
bound by its laws and ritual. The Moravian must
abandon the exquisite litanies of his fathers, and the
German must forsake the hymns of Luther and of
Gerhardt, that they may learn the provincial ways of
another European tribe, and recite the Dearly-beloved-



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CONFESSIONS OF A HIGH-CHURCHMAN. 87 ,

brethren, and sing the exhilarating psalms of Nahum
Tate, or must suffer the pains and penalties of
schism. *

This hair's-breadth narrowness on ritual questions is
commensurate with the writer's breadth of view on
questions of theplogy and practical religion. He sincerely
believes that true theology on the Trinity, on the origin
of evil, and on the relation of predestination to respon-
sibility is found alone in what he, in common with the
infinitesimal sect of a sect, believes to be the doctrine of
the Anglican church. So, also he thinks that Christian
self-saorifice and beneficence are a peculium of episcopally-
ordained ministers. Witness the following :

u There had been more or less of epidemic disease hanging about
Norowam. A drought in summer had been followed by warm,
sultry days, and then by a sudden chill with sea fogs and the raw
easterly airs. Maurice noticed that Winthrop's handsome face
looked very grave as he came to his meals, that he ate them
hurriedly and was soon off.

u Maurice hesitated to ask the cause, but another of the hotel
boarders called out across the table at dinner, * Many sick in the
parish ? ' 'Several very sick,' was the answer. * Keeps you pretty
busy, eh?' The young clergyman nodded assent. 'What is the
matter?' asked Maurice, in a lower tone. 'Oh, this horrible
dysentery. It is the most treacherous thing we have, worse than
typhoid, I think — except scarlet fever among the children, there is
nothing I dread so much."

u l Well, but do you have to go where it is?' said Maurice.

u ' Go ! why to be sure. I was not speaking of myself, when I
said I dreaded it, — in fact, I haven't thought of that — it is in the
parish that I dread it."

1. Since this article was written, Mr. Mitchell's sect has relaxed a little the
austere rigor of its demands, and the singing of Tate and Brady is no longer
exacted as a condition of admittance to the covenants of promise.



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88 CO NKE8MONB OF A HIGH-OBURCHMAN.

* 'Why,' said the other, who had put the first question, 'won't
dysentery kill you parsons as quick as it wtii the rest of us ? '

u The yoang man smiled slightly, and then said, ' The killing is
not in the account. We have something else to think of. I have
not found ever in my short experience that men live longest who
are most afraid ot dying. When I first began to go about among
the stck y one of the Doctors told me not to suppose that anything
could kill me — and then half the danger was over. So I have just
acted on that principle ever since — that is, not to worry about
myself at all, which comes to the same end. 1

* Maurice looked at him ioifll admiration.* 9 pp. 207, 208.

We also admire; bat are at a loss at which to wonder
most, whether at the acquaintance with Christian ministers'
which persuades our author that it is a rare and dis-
tinguishing virtue among them not to shirk duty in a
dysentery season ; or at the narrowness of view which
convinces him that this most moderate allowance of
official virtue is an Episcopalian quality, which a
Presbyterian can scarcely attain unto, and which a
Unitarian (to use his own words) u feels to be far beyond
his own mark." For our part, we can conceive of a
minister who would ran away from his duty in an epidemic
as something to be despised and kicked out of the pro-
feseion; but it would hardly occur to us, from the
ministers we have happened to know, to signalize one's
attendance on dysentery patients as anything exceptionally
heroic, or even u beyond the mark" of an average
Unitarian*

One cannot refrain from remarking how far more
contracted and illiberal are the habits of thinking of a
High-Churchman in Mr. Mitchell's position, than those of
an intelligent Roman Catholic Those who have read the
Article in the Catholic World, whieh was reviewed in tb*



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CONFESSIONS OF A HIGH-CHURCHMAN. 89

last Number of the New Englander, Will have marked how
much better it is, in point of courtesy, of candid effort to*
appreciate an antagonist's position, of Christian love and
respect towards fellow-disciples of Christ from whom he
is sundered, than it would have been possible for the
author to write when he was still lingering, in mid-
progress, among the Anglicans. The Romanist makes no
claim to Catholicity which he does not back up with
earnest effort, on a scale commensurate with his claims^
to subdue the entire world, Christian and Pagan, to the
papal obedience, He does not attempt to enforce the
provincial traditions of a petty region like southeastern
Britain, upon the adoption of all mankind ; but accepts
the only principle on which his idea of an external
catholicity could possibly be realized — the principle of
u E pluriims unam" Holding fast by certain great
fixtures in discipline and worship — the authority of popes
and councils, and the forms of celebrating the mass, other
things are subject to necessary change to adapt them to
varying times and peoples ; and the traditions of diocesan
sovereignty, which have long been extinguished in the
Episcopal Church by the exorbitant authority of Parlia-
* ment or triennial synod, still linger in the Papal Churchy
giving vitality in all its parts, and reminding one of the
lost independency of churches in the primitive jage. A
Roman Catholic missionary in Connecticut may, permissu
mperioris, draw upon all the resources of Protestant
hymnology, old and new, and bid his proselytes worship
God in the wonted strains of Watts, and Wesley, and
Toplady, and Bonar, and Ray Palmer ; he may put on his
black coat, and talk to them from his improvised pulpit
with as close and familiar appeal as Finney or Beecher.



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90 CONFESSIONS OF A HIGH CHURCHMAN.

But his next-of-kin has one unvarying song for Morning
Prayer, for Evening Prayer, for Sundays, for week-days,
for fasts, for feasts, the same excerpt from John Calvin,
(of whom he hates the very name), the u Dearly beloved
brethren, the Scripture moveth us," with its long sequel ;
and cannot travel into the unevangelized regions of
Puritanism without a band-box, a basket of prayer-books,
and a clerk to start the responses. He is doomed by the
inexorable necessity of his position to stand upon trifles,
-and to look on his own things and not on the things of
others. We are bound to make due allowance for this,
in observing the little arrogances and misconceptions and
misrepresentations of gentlemen in that position, and not
to conclude too hastily that they proceed from any inward
deficiency of good manners or good feeling.

It is worth while to make a brief excursus here on the
praotical question, How shall we deal with well-intending
gentlemen who are betrayed into incivilities to their
neighbors by the necessity of their sacerdotal position ?
The best answer may perhaps be found in the experience
of the Rev. Augustine Ralston; as we have learned it
from himself.

The Rev. Walter Mitchell gives his conception of what
would have been a first encounter between the Rev. Mr.
Ralston and the Episcopalian minister of Norowam, as
follows :

a Provoking as he [Ralston] could be, when you came to know
him it was impossible to quarrel with him. He was provoking,
however. He took advantage of a silence at the dinner-table to
address Winthrop so pointedly as to draw the attention of all upon
him. * Brother Winthrop, when shall we have the pleasure of an
exchange ? '



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CONFESSIONS OF A HIGH-CHURCHMAN. 91

u ' Thank you, Mr. Ralston, I shall be engaged till after
Christmas, and then I shall probably leave.'

a Ralston bit his lip and resumed. * * * * * Gome, now, that
is mere fencing with the question. Would you exchange with me if
you had the power ? '



Online LibraryLeonard Woolsey BaconChurch papers: sundry essays in subjects relating to the church and ... → online text (page 7 of 26)