The appearance of this great tribunal among us, a distinctly spiritual court of the highest dignity, cannot fail to be memorable. It is too early to forecast what its results may be. There may be before it an active and eventful career, or it may fall back into disuse and quiescence. It has jealous and suspicious rivals in the civil courts, never well disposed to the claim of ecclesiastical power or purely spiritual authority; and though its jurisdiction is not likely to be strained at present, it is easy to conceive occasions in the future which may provoke the interference of the civil court.
But there is this interest about the present proceedings, that they illustrate with curious closeness, amid so much that is different, the way in which great spiritual prerogatives grew up in the Church. They may have ended disastrously; but at their first beginnings they were usually inevitable, innocent, blameless. Time after time the necessity arose of some arbiter among those who were themselves arbiters, rulers, judges. Time after time this necessity forced those in the first rank into this position, as being the only persons who could be allowed to take it, and so Archbishops, Metropolitans, Primates appeared, to preside at assemblies, to be the mouthpiece of a general sentiment, to decide between high authorities, to be the centre of appeals. The Papacy itself at its first beginning had no other origin. It interfered because it was asked to interfere; it judged because there was no one else to judge. And so necessities of a very different kind have forced the Archbishop of Canterbury of our day into a position which is new and strange to our experience, and which, however constitutional and reasonable it may be, must give every one who is at all affected by it a good deal to think about.
MOZLEY’S BAMPTON LECTURES
Eight Lectures on Miracles: the Bampton Lectures for 1865. By the
Rev. J.B. Mozley, B.D. The Times, 5th and 6th June 1866.