John Keble: A Study in Laminations

John Keble: A Study in Laminations

John Keble: A Study in Laminations

John Keble: A Study in Laminations

Excerpt

"Well, what is the Church of England?"

"The Church of England is a damn big building with an organ inside."

The young William Gladstone, travelling on the outside of a stage-coach, overheard this fragment of conversation pass between two of his fellow-travellers. He remembered it all his long life, and when he was grown old and famous he still delighted to quote it at dinner-parties. In Gladstone's youth, about the time of Waterloo, to the man in the street the word "church" did indeed connote nothing more spiritual than an affair of stone or bricks and mortar, whilst educated people who took a more abstract view almost invariably regarded the Church merely as a department of the State. When Gladstone died in 1898 the Church of England still remained established, but she was nevertheless a Church openly and authoritatively teaching her belief in her status as an authentic part of the Holy Catholic Church and in the divine nature of her authority as transmitted through the Apostolic Succession of her ministers. Today only those outside her gates still persist in regarding the Anglican Church as a department of the State, whilst most Church-men, however loyal they may be to the Crown, would admit to feeling considerable embarrassment on hearing Queen Elizabeth the Second described by her archaic title, "Supreme Governor of the Church. . . ."

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