Thomas Hancock.

The pulpit and the press, and other sermons, most of which were preached at S. Nicholas Cole Abbey online

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obtain the prey." " I doubt not it is manifest to you,"
said the Bishop of London and future Primate, "that
covetousness hath thrust them into this schism." The
bishops were hated alike by the aristocrats and pluto-
crats, who sneered at the prelates for their " mean
birth." The tu quoque of William Burton, preaching at
Norwich against the greed which these " Liberationist "
nobles and landed gentry hid under a pharisaical


pretence of zeal for religion, might be directed to the
same classes in our own day. " Why, say some of these
men, Can you not live as the apostles lived ? " " Why,
say I again, Let them lay down their goods at the
apostles' feet, and then let them ask the question."
The best of the reforming clergy did not shrink from
saying boldly in the pulpit that the monks at their
worst had been better than the nobles and gentry who
had appropriated the monastic lands. " If ye were not
stark blind," said Prebendary Thomas Lever at Paul's
Cross, in Edward the Sixth's disastrous reign, "ye
would see and be ashamed that fifty tun-bellied monks
given to gluttony, filled their paunches, kept up their
house, and relieved the whole country round about
them, where one of your greedy guts devouring the
whole house and making great pillage throughout the
country, cannot be satisfied." I could spend hours in
the citation of passages from sermons in which the
Anglican bishops and clergy attacked the great land-
lords for their systematic robbery of the common lands
from the poor. Their attempts in Kent to rob the poor
of the common school were foiled by the courage and
humane piety of Archbishop Cranmer. The stealing of
the common lands from the local commonwealths by
the infamous oligarchy which ruled England under
the name of the boy-king, Edward, was declared by
Thomas Lever from the pulpit to be " the greatest grief
that hath been unto the People of this realm." These
robbers were then recklessly enclosing " the commons of
every town," said Roger Hutchinson, " so that no poor
man can keep a cow upon them." The " covetous land-
lords," said Thomas Lever in his brave sermon before
the young King, " taking the grounds into their own
hands, turn all to pasture." He told the King and
Court that the increasing pauperism of the nation


was the direct product of the grasping landlordism.
The country folk, evicted from their farms by the nobles
and gentry, despairingly streamed up to London. "So
now," said he, "old fathers, poor widows, and young,
lie begging in the miry streets." Turning from the
King and the robbers to Christ Jesus, the champion
of the poor, the preacher exclaimed, " O merciful Lord !
What a number of poor, feeble, halt, blind, lame, sickly,
yea, with idle vagabond and dissembling caitiffs mixed
among them, lie and creep, begging in the miry streets
of London and Westminster ! " I need scarcely quote
from so classical a book as the splendid sermons of the
socialist and martyr bishop, Hugh Latimer, the darling
of the London poor. When preaching before the King
he fearlessly apostrophised the nobles and Court gentry
in language which would horrify a Philistine English
jury in our day " You landlords ; you rent-raisers ;
I may say, you step-lords ; you unnatural lords, you
have for your possessions yearly too much ! " He was
one of the first of the long and honourable series of the
English clergy who protested from the pulpit against
the "depopulation" of the country communes by a
restlessly aggressive landlordism. " Where there have
been a great many householders and inhabitants, there
is now but a shepherd and his dog." Parliamentary
laws had not helped the poor ; for though the laws
were good, the rich easily found a way to break them.
" We have good statutes made for the Commonwealth,"
said the brave bishop, "as touching commoners and
enclosers, many meetings and sessions, but in the
end there cometh nothing forth." The " House of
Commons," in defiance of its name, became more and
more an assembly, not of commoners but of landlords.
" I remember mine own self," said he, " a certain giant, a
great man, who sat in commission about such matters ;


and when the townsmen should bring in what had been
enclosed, he frowned and chafed, and so near-looked and
threatened the poor men, that they durst not ask their
right." The aristocratic robbers, under Edward, as
afterwards under the Stewarts, made a stalking-horse of
the King ; in England, as in Prussia, as in Russia, as in
Sweden, the poor and the clergy fled to the King as
their only possible champion against the tyrannical
aristocratic landlordism. This is the explanation of the
undoubtedly historical truth that during the Civil War
between Charles and his Parliament, under the short-
lived "Commonwealth," and after the Cromwellian
coup d'etat, the sympathies of the English democracy,
the anti-puritanical masses, remained throughout on the
side of the King. " The King beareth the slander," said
Lever, in his appeal to Edward for the poor, "the poor
feel the lack ; but who hath the profit of such things ? "
"All the world seeth," he added, "that the Act of
Parliament for the maintenance of learning and relief
of the poor hath served some as a most fit instrument to
rob learning and to spoil the poor."

Francis Trigge, preaching at Grantham, Lincolnshire,
in Elizabeth's reign (1592), complained that "all towns
are almost decayed and undone. Their common things
and lands, whereby the common stocks of their town
hath been wont to be maintained, be by some means
or other taken from them? He cited " the good law
of the Romans," "which established that no houses
should be pulled down. This, thought they, in reason
should be a decay of their commonwealth. This we
may daily see in the country, where men nowadays
will buy nouses to pull them down, that they may have
a prospect, that they may have a garden, or such-like
pleasure. And so now, where Christ's Family hath
been maintained, grow trees or nettles." William


Symonds, one of the clergy of St. Saviour's, Southwark,
preaching in 1609 at Whitechapel Church, called
attention to this combined onslaught of landlordism
upon the Church and the Democracy. "The people,
blessed be God," said he, "do swarm in the land, as
young bees in a hive in June, insomuch that there
is scarcely room " in and about London " for one
man to live by another." The overcrowding, and the
evils which followed it, were traced by the bold priest
to the thievish landlordism of the day. " The mightier,
like old strong bees, thrust the weaker or younger out
of their hives. Lords of Manors convert townships,
in which there were one or two hundred communicants,
to a shepherd and his dog. The true labouring hus-
bandman who was wont to feed many poor, to set
many people in work, and pay twice or thrice as much
subsidy and fifteens to the King for his proportion of
earth as his landlord did for three times as much that
was wont to furnish the Church with saints, the Nation
with able persons to fight, is now in many places turned
labourer, and can hardly scape the statutes of rogues
and vagrants. The thoughtful poor woman, which hath
her small children standing at her knee and hanging on
her breast, she worketh with her needle and laboureth
with her fingers. Her candle goeth not out by night.
She is often deluding the bitterness of her life with
sweet songs that she singeth to a heavy heart." Three
years later, the eloquent Thomas Adams, whom the
Nonconformist Long Parliament expelled in his old
age from St. Bennett's, Paul's Wharf, preached in St.
Paul's Cathedral against the sacrilege which accom-
panied the depopulation unceasingly carried on by the
great landlords in the reign of James the First. The
sermon was an attack upon the "gallants" the con-
temporary social product of an idle landlordism the


new courtiers of the new King's reign, the aristocratic
and plutocratic " mashers " whom Adam called " heirs
of Esau, and as profane as their father."

They hated the Churchmen. "We bite them with
the salt of reproof; hence they storm." Some of this
caste affected Nonconformity, " refractory to established
orders " ; others affected Libertinism ; " no jest ends
in such laughter as that which is broken on a priest."
These prodigals were spending at the Court and in
London the wealth which Esau, their father, had filched
from the poor and from the Church, the peculiar heritage
of the poor, in the country. The preacher mentions
one "wicked Church robber," who had "pulled all
the lead off the Church roof, and thatched it " a
frequent form of robbery with the Nonconformist
nobles and gentry when they became stronger and
could use the Parliament as their tool, only in those
days they did not trouble to thatch it.

He sketches a portrait of the contemporary " sacri-
legious patron, the pirate of the Church." " Many of
these," he exclaimed, " are more cruel than Judas ; they
neither on repentance nor despair will bring back the
price of tke Poor's blood which they have sucked!
Behold the earthy churl, to make his son a gentleman,
prostituteth his honesty, conscience, soul, and forsaketh
his own mercy. As the proverb is (vile, if even true),
' Happy is the son whose father goeth to the devil ! ' "
It is worth noting what a London priest meant by
going to the devil. " He hath mowed corn, or fatted
his ox, on the very place where the town stood (ubi
Trojafuif) ; nay, he hath kennelled his dogs within the
walls of its sanctuary. Non ignota cano!" "There are
some heirs," he says, " that exceed the tyranny of their
fathers." The preacher insisted on " restoration " to the
towns, the churches, and the poor, of that which the


landlord had stolen from them. But even " the better-
instructed heir," he complains, does not think of this,
" Seeing and detecting his dead father's deader courses,"
he withdraws his hand from extortion, from depopu-
lation. But what reasons can make him a restorer?
It is enough, he thinks, to cease wrong. But, "curse
ye Meroz, saith the angel of the Lord, curse ye bitterly
the inhabitants thereof, because they came not forth to
help the Lord in the day of battle." Did they fight
against God ? No, " they helped Him not." These
young heirs of this inhuman and sacrilegious land-
lordism, said the preacher in St. Paul's Cathedral,
" must restore the extorted lands and houses of their
brethren ; nay, remit some part of the debt" To the
Nonconformist nobles and gentry, who paid to their
Puritan domestic chaplains some small donation out
of their plunder of the poor and of the " anti-christian "
ornaments of the Church, Adams smartly said, "You
have not robbed Peter to pay Paul, but to pay Judas."
In a sermon to his own parish of St. Bennett's, Paul's
Wharf, in 1616, Adams compared the depopulator to
the wild boar "that will forage and lay all waste, if he
be not restrained. Yea, he lays waste the common-
wealth, though he encloseth to himself. He wasteth
societies, community, neighbourhood of people ; he
turns them out of their own ancient doors, sends them
to the wide world to beg their bread. Let this beast
be hunted." In 1618 he made another attack upon
"the destructive depopulator," "the oppressing land-
lord," " the Church defrauder." " He loves to ride in
his own ground ; and for this purpose expelleth all his
neighbours." " He rides over the heads and hearts of
the poor tenants." "The charitable man thinks of
building churches, but starts to thinks that these men
will pull them down again." In 1616 the same preacher


compared the " enhancers of estates " to field-briars.
" This island of ours, within the last few years, hath
bred a great shell ; crush that, and you kill him. Say,
therefore within thyself, What will become of me and
mine if I destroy the nest of breeding Christians (the
local commoners in the country), and having chopped
them in the pot, seethe old and young in one another's


" There be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not
the Spirit." ST. JUDE 19.

THAT which is anti-social, separatist, or sectarian
in our kind, according to the apostolic writer
is fundamentally anti-spiritual. So'cialism, however
materialist or "sensual" its temporary manifestations
may be, " is born of the Spirit."


The day of the sending of the Holy Spirit, Whitsun
Day, was naturally the birthday of the human-universal
society, the Catholic Church. The birthday of the
Church was lately asserted by a writer in a German
Social Democratic journal, which is now published in
London, to have a significance which churchgoers are
slow to recognise. He sees in the gathering of Christ's
disciples at Jerusalem, and the consequent organisation
of this new society, " the first International Working
Men's Congress." I need scarcely tell you that the writer
who thus claims the " apostolical succession " for the
Social Democrats has renounced all communion with
the Church which the apostles founded. He does not
believe Jesus to be the Eternal Son of God, the Head of

Whitsun Day, 1884.


every man, the rescuer and healer of humanity, the
giver of the renewing and socialising Spirit for the con-
stitution and education amongst all nations of a human-
universal fellowship, the Catholic Church. It is there-
fore all the more instructive that such a man should
confess that the thing which he regards as most hopeful
and most healing in the modern world the Inter-
national Socialist movement began, or at least was
predicated, on Whitsun Day with the beginning of the
Church. The apostles of Jesus were the first inter-
nationalist socialists. As I hear a great deal about
" Scientific Socialism," about "Non-Christian Socialism,"
as I am told that the thing Socialism must not be
damaged by qualifying it with the adjective Christian, I
am the more impressed by this unasked concession of
the exiled Freiheit that the historical origin of Socialism,
the first definite international working-men's movement
was Christian, and was Christian purely. It was not
indeed the interest of an undefinable and vague thing
called " Christianity," but it was the Name of the
crucified and risen Man, Christ Jesus, which gathered
together in one on Whitsun Day the poor and suffering
men and women of so many lands and tongues.


" According to the Christian Legend," said the Freiheit
on the Whitsun festival of 1879, "A Man appeared on
this earth nearly 2,000 years ago who forced the rich
and powerful to see that the poor were their brothers,
and that the rich had no right to tyrannise over and
prey upon the poor. He tore the mask of hypocrisy
from the faces of the Pharisees. He sought to bring
about equality among men and peace upon earth."
The writer goes on to say, that it is " this bright and


sunny side of the agitation started by Christ which has
been at all times popular amongst the poor and needy.
Some, at least, amongst the poorest folks have discerned
in Christ the God of their own class, and they have been
the more confirmed in their faith by hearing that it was
the great and mighty of His generation who caused Him
to be nailed upon the Cross." As the Master, so were
His disciples. They also " were poor fellows, and their
gathering at Jerusalem, when Christ was dead, on what
the Church calls the Day of Pentecost, maybe distinctly
characterised as the first International Working Men's
Congress." No such gathering of " devout men out of
every nation under heaven " had ever before been
experienced in the history of humanity. The Parthians
and Medes and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopo-
tamia and in Judaea, in Cappadocia, in Pontus and Asia,
Phrygia and Pamphylia, and in the parts of Lybia about
Cyrene, and in Egypt, and foreigners of Rome, Jews and
Proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, are all claimed by the
modern Social Democrat as representatives of the
labouring class in these various parts. " The people,"
he says, "trusted the apostles of Christ, and ordered
their life and conduct according to their doctrine. Foes
and mocking critics said that the apostles and disciples
of Christ were drunk, and full of new wine ; others
opposed them and their movement, and said, ' They are
revolutionists, confiscators, dividers of property ; they
will turn the world upside down.' The preachers of the
new doctrine were not merely railed at, but were perse-
cuted ; and when persecution availed nothing against
the spread of their doctrine, then the rich and ruling
classes began to mix themselves up with the movement,
and bit by bit falsified the principles of the Church."

I need hardly say to any reader of St. Luke that the
assumption of the poverty of all the original disciples of


Jesus is not true to fact. There were rich men amongst
them, Joseph of Arimathaea, Barnabas, and others. St.
Luke shows that it was the action of the Holy and
unifying Spirit upon the wills of the rich amongst
Christ's first disciples which made the Christian
Socialism of the Church of Jerusalem a practical thing.
" All that believed were together, and had all things
common ; and sold their possessions and goods, and
parted them to all men, as every man had need " (ii. 44,
45). And again, at a later period (iv. 32-37, v. 1-3),
" The multitude of them that believed were of one heart
and of one soul ; neither said any of them that ought of
the things which he possessed was his own, but they had
all things common. Neither were there any among
them that lacked." After " they were all filled with the
Holy Ghost " poverty was for a time abolished. " For
as many as were possessors of lands, or houses, sold
them, and brought the prices of the things that were
sold, and laid them down at the apostles' feet ; and
distribution was made unto every man according as he
had need." This wonderful Christian Socialism, so
isolated in the world's history, and so short-lived, was
Christian. It was not the product of outward laws or
institutions, but of the Holy Ghost, whom Jesus Christ
had sent unto men from the Father, directly working
upon the wills of the sons and brethren. So St. Peter
implied in dealing with the first instance of resistance to
the Holy Ghost in the Church. " Ananias, why has
Satan filled thy heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to
keep back part of the price of the land ? "

It is curious that the preacher of Atheistic Socialism
should take his stand upon ground exactly similar to
that upon which all the founders of Christian Sects have
built their various imaginary " churches." He assumes
that there has been a total " apostasy " of the real and


historical Church from that standing (orao-te) on which
Jesus Christ stood her and from that Spirit with which
He inspired her.

All our religious sects are bound logically to assume
that a new Pentecost, a new outpouring of the Church-
creating Spirit occurred some time, and somewhere,
and in some elect persons, in the seventeenth,
eighteenth, or nineteenth centuries. Our Sects lay
down the new foundation of a modern Independency,
an Anabaptism, a Plymouth Brethrenism, or some
other opinionative association, as the proper sub-
stitute for the apostasised Church ; they call upon
men and women to come out of the old Babylon and
enter into the new Sion which they have built. This
Social Democratic preacher would separate socialism
from the Church, and make it a sect. He follows in the
track of sectaries, and announces a new Whitsun Day,
a new gospel, a new apostolate, a new catholic or
universal-human society. "We, the Socialists, announce
to you to-day," said the Freiheit during the Whitsuntide
of 1879, "anew doctrine, the doctrine of liberty and
equality ; we aim to effect the brotherly union of all
men in the world. We, however, preach this freedom,
equality, and brotherhood not merely in the name of
Love, but what is much more significant, in the name of
Right. A new Day of Pentecost has dawned. In all
tongues and in all lands the same doctrine, the socialist
doctrine, the emancipation of all men, is being pro-
claimed." Some of the new preachers even went so far,
after Ferdinand Lassalle's untimely death by his duel in
Switzerland, as to proclaim, " Lassalle has died for you.
He has given his blood for you." Nay, there were even
some who believed that Lassalle had not really died, but
only disappeared, and would come again to emancipate
the poor and needy from the capitalist and the


oppressor. True, indeed, as is this Social Democrat's
sermon on behalf of his new sect, as a substitute for the
Son of Man's fundamentally Socialist Church, I take
leave to say that his own application of the facts of
Whitsun Day, the birthday of Christ's Church, is a proof
that there is no need of a new sect, but rather of a
penitent return of the Church to the principle with
which the Holy Ghost inspired her.


You expected to-day to hear a priest of Christ's
Church preach a Whitsun Day sermon, and he has
asked you to listen to some extracts from a Whitsun
Day article written by one who calls himself an
" Atheistic Socialist." To some Christian hearers his
sermon may seem very dreadful. To me, I confess, it
seems very hopeful, and even to be more Christian than
many a sermon I have heard from Christian preachers.
I cannot say how much I learned from it five years ago,
when I first read it. Its half-unwilling and half-un-
conscious confession that if modern nations and men
are to be redeemed from the evils which now oppress
them, the Son of Man must die for them, a new society
for all nations must be founded, a gospel of universal
brotherhood must be preached to "all nations" and to
" every creature," strengthened my faith in the great
assertion of St. Peter on this day, that Jesus, the Son of
God and the Son of Man, the Head of Humanity, had
poured out His Spirit " upon all flesh." Here is a man,
one of that flesh, who quarrels with Christ's Church for
apostatising from her own original principle from the
faith once delivered to the saints. But when he comes
to state the Church's original principle, the faith once
delivered as he sees it what does he find it to be?


Exactly such a principle as the Social Democrat longs
to see established in all lands ; exactly such a faith as
the Social Democrat is exhorting all poor and suffering
men to hold, if they would be saved, or care for man-
kind's salvation. He accuses the Church of having
apostatised from the foundation on which she was built
up by the apostles that brotherhood and equality of
the rich and the poor, the master and the slave, the ruler
and the ruled. He sees that the Church has apostatised
from the doctrine communicated to her by the Holy
Ghost, that possession is not property. He holds that
a new Pentecost, a new gospel, a new apostolate, a new
confession are now needed, because the Church has not
effected that which Christ planned, and for which His
apostles laboured and suffered. He tries to show that
there is some difference between the new " church " of
Karl Marx and the Church of the Son of God wholly
to the preference of the former in that the apostles of
Christ proclaimed universal brotherhood in the name of
" Love," while the apostles of Marx and Lassalle pro-
claim universal brotherhood in the name of " Right," But
it is certain that in the Gospel " Love " and " Right "
or the fruit of the inward Spirit of God and the Law of
God are not represented as two differing forces. The
day on which the Spirit of love was poured forth upon
the disciples of Jesus Christ was being kept by them
and all the Jews on the day of the giving of the Law.
The Spirit is given us to enable us to keep the Law ; it
is only by love that a man can always and every-
where do Right to all. " Love is the fulfilling of the

The Social Democratic preacher degrades Love and
Right into mere things, or mere forces, by disconnecting
them with trust in and obedience to the living Spirit.
He is fighting in all men against their own selfishness


and hatred, and is inspiring men with their longing to
be right and to see right everywhere done on earth.

We may proclaim to all men that they are brothers,
in the name of Love, or in the name of Right : but this

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Online LibraryThomas HancockThe pulpit and the press, and other sermons, most of which were preached at S. Nicholas Cole Abbey → online text (page 7 of 22)