Occasional Papers eBook

Richard William Church
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 378 pages of information about Occasional Papers.
on the subject of the Court is vague, and the sources from which accurate information can be obtained are little understood; and that people who discuss it ought in the first place to know what the Court is, and what it does.”  This is the mere customary formula of a preface turned into a rhetorical insinuation which would have been better away; most of those who care about the subject, and have expressed opinions about it, know pretty well the nature of the Court and the result of its working, and whatever variations there may be in the judgment passed upon it arise not from any serious imperfection of knowledge but from differences of principle.  It was hardly suitable in a work like this to assume a mystery and obscurity about the subject where there is really none, and to claim superior exactness and authenticity of information about a matter which in all its substantial points is open to all the world.  And we could conceive the design, well-intentioned as it is, carried out in a way more fitting to the gravity of the occasion which has suggested it.  The Bishop says truly enough that the questions involved in the constitution of such a court are some of the most difficult with which statesmen have to deal.  Therefore it seems to us that a collection of the decisions of such a court, put forth for the use of the Church and nation under the authority of the Bishop of London, ought to have had the dignity and the reserve of a work meant for permanence and for the use of men of various opinions, and ought not to have had even the semblance, as this book has, of an ex parte pamphlet.  The Bishop of London is, of course, quite right to let the Church know what he thinks about the Court of Final Appeal; and he is perfectly justified in recommending us, in forming our opinion, to study carefully the facts of the existing state of things; but it seems hardly becoming to make the facts a vehicle for indirectly forcing on us, in the shape of comments, a very definite and one-sided view of them, which is the very subject of vehement contradiction and dispute.  It would have been better to have committed what was necessary in the way of explanation and illustration to some one of greater weight and experience than two clever young men of strong bias and manifest indisposition to respect or attend to, or even to be patient with, any aspect of the subject but their own in this complicated and eventful question, and who, partly from overlooking great and material elements in it, and partly from an imperfect apprehension of what they had to do, have failed to present even the matters of fact with which they deal with the necessary exactness and even-handedness.  It seems to us that in a work intended for the general use of the Church and addressed to men of all opinions, they only remember to be thoroughgoing advocates and justifiers of the Court which happens to have grown into such important consequence to the English Church.  The position is a perfectly legitimate one; but we think it had better not have been connected with a documentary work like the present, set forth by the direction and under the sanction of a Bishop of London.

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Occasional Papers from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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