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Church and State inquiry

by
07 February 2014

February 6th, 1914.

THE appointment by the Archbishop of Canterbury of a Commission to inquire into the relations of Church and State in this country is a step long desired and much to be commended. In the course of many centuries the State has undergone changes which have brought it about that relations between it and the Church which once were tolerable and even natural are now intolerable. In our own case, we are to-day suffering from the effects of a dreary period in our ecclesiastical history, in which high dignitaries regarded themselves rather as State officials than as spiritual rulers, and administered Church discipline and law through the agency of their legal deputies. In the atmosphere of that age, the idea of the Church as a mere department of the State, under Parliamentary control, grew up and ripened into a deadly fruit. And, worst of all, in our day the "man-in-the-street" imagines himself in a position to determine offhand any theological or ecclesiastical question that is brought to his notice through his daily newspaper. It has long been necessary to recall the nation from a false conception of the Church, to assert its spiritual character, and to maintain its right to manage its own internal affairs. That Establishment and independence are not incompatible ideas we are shown by the case of the Established religion in Scotland. There is a working pattern before our eyes. We have good hope of valuable results being obtained by the Archbishop's Committee.

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