The great maxim, in omnibus caritas, which is so necessary to temper all religious controversy, ought to apply with a tenfold force to the conduct of the members of the Church of England. In respect to differences among themselves they ought, of course, in the first place to remember that their right to differ is limited by the laws of the system to which they belong; but within that limit should they not also, each of them, recollect that his antagonist has something to say; that the Reformation and the counter-Reformation tendencies were, in the order of Providence, placed here in a closer juxtaposition than anywhere else in the Christian world; that a course of destiny so peculiar appears to indicate on the part of the Supreme Orderer a peculiar purpose, that not only no religious but no considerate or prudent man should run the risk of interfering with such a purpose; that the great charity which is a bounden duty everywhere in these matters should here be accompanied and upheld by two ever-striving handmaidens, a great Reverence and a great Patience.
This is true, and of deep moment to those who guide and influence thought and feeling in the Church. But further, those in whose hands the “Supreme Orderer” has placed the springs and the restraints of political movement and of change, if they recognise at all this view of the English Church, ought to feel one duty paramount in regard to it. Never was the Church, they tell us, more active and more hopeful; well then, what politicians who care for her have to see to is that she shall have time to work out effectually the tendencies which are visible in her now more than at any period of her history—that combination which Mr. Gladstone wishes for, of the deepest individual faith and energy, with forbearance and conciliation and the desire for peace. She has a right to claim from English rulers that she should have time to let these things work and bear fruit; if she has lost time before, she never was so manifestly in earnest in trying to make up for it as now. It is not talking, but working together, which brings different minds and tempers to understand one another’s divergences; and it is this disposition to work together which shows itself and is growing now. But it needs time. What the Church has a right to ask from the arbiters of her temporal and political position in the country, if that is ultimately and inevitably to be changed, is that nothing precipitate, nothing impatient, should be done; that she should have time adequately to develop and fulfil what she now alone among Christian communities seems in a position to attempt.
Guardian, 14th October 1885.