Occasional Papers eBook

Richard William Church
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 447 pages of information about Occasional Papers.
law of the case is, for the time at least, what the supreme tribunal has pronounced it to be.  People chafed at not getting what they thought the plain broad conclusions from facts and documents accepted; they appealed to law from the uncertainty of controversy, and found law still more uncertain, and a good deal more dangerous.  They thought that they were going to condemn crimes and expel wrongdoers; they found that these prosecutions inevitably assumed the character of the old political trials, which were but an indirect and very mischievous form of the struggle between two avowed parties, and in which, though the technical question was whether the accused had committed the crime, the real one was whether the alleged crime were a crime at all.  Accordingly, wider considerations than those arising out of the strict merits of the case told upon the decision; and the negative judgment, and resolute evasion of a condemnation, in each of the cases which were of wide and serious importance, were proofs of the same tendency in English opinion which has made political trials, except in the most extreme cases, almost inconceivable.  They mean that the questions raised must be fought out and settled in a different and more genuine way, and that law feels itself out of place when called to interfere in them.  As all parties have failed in turning the law into a weapon, and yet as all parties have really gained much more than they have lost by the odd anomalies of our ecclesiastical jurisprudence, the wisest course would seem to be for those who feel the deep importance of doctrinal questions to leave the law alone, either as to employing it or attempting to change it.  Controversy, argument, the display of the intrinsic and inherent strength of a great and varied system, are what all causes must in the last resort trust to.  Lord Westbury will have done the Church of England more good than perhaps he thought of doing, if his dicta make theologians see that they can be much better and more hopefully employed than in trying legal conclusions with unorthodox theorisers, or in busying themselves with inventing imaginary improvements for a Final Court of Appeal.



[4] A Collection of the Judgments of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in Ecclesiastical Cases relating to Doctrine and Discipline; with a Preface by the Lord Bishop of London, and an Historical Introduction.  Edited by the Hon. G. Brodrick, Barrister-at-Law, and Rev. the Hon. W.H.  Fremantle, Chaplain to the Bishop of London. Guardian, 15th February 1865.

The Bishop of London has done a useful service in causing the various decisions of the present Court of Appeal to be collected into a volume.  There is such an obvious convenience about the plan that it hardly needed the conventional reason given for it, that “the knowledge generally possessed

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Occasional Papers from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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