Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Nonjurors, Tractarian Predecessors?

One of the common assertions one hears from Anglo-Catholics is that they are the descendants of the Nonjurors and saints such as Thomas Ken and William Law. However, in this post, I wish to show that the Nonjurors are not the spiritual predecessors of Anglo-Catholicism as a corporate body, mostly because they was not one unified body of Nonjurors, which is often overlooked when trying to construct a historical and spiritual lineage for Anglo-Catholicism (which I believe is an historical aberration from Anglicanism, however rooted in genuine High Churchmanship). Take the following quote to summarize some of the differences among the Nonjurors:

“Hickes, especially in his posthumous work, was certainly heading towards a strongly Catholic position on the ministerial priesthood. However, whilst he may have been the key figure in the movement, Hickes was not the only one. Nathaniel Spinckes opposed the ‘usages’ of the 1549 Prayer Book – which, most controversially, included prayer for the dead – on Protestant grounds. The Non-Jurors were no less Protestant as a body, and no more ‘Catholic’, than their brethren in the established church.”

Thus showing that individual and certain groups of Nonjurors may have shared some ideas with the later Tractarians but overall it is impossible for Anglo-Catholics to claim a direct descent from them. Rather, the Nonjurors were a microcosm of High Churchmanship at the time with a certain degree of flexibility within the movement which gave it a bit of comprehensiveness with most sitting in the middle but with a few veering off in a particular direction. Some Nonjurors notably depart from Anglican orthodoxy and are like the later Anglo-Catholics in this way.

The Nonjurors were a group of bishops, priests, and laity, who refused to swear allegiance to William and Mary when they ascended the throne in February of 1689, when James II had fled the country. This is obviously a very truncated and probably a little inaccurate description of the complexities of the Jacobite cause (the name of the political stance of the Nonjurors), however, I want to focus on the theological deviations of the Nonjurors rather than the political causes of the schism. However, the Nonjuror schism was not a small matter nor was it threatening to the stability of the Church. There were nine bishops who refused to make the oath to William and Mary: William Sancroft, Archbishop of Canterbury; Thomas Ken, Bishop of Bath and Wales; John Lake, Bishop of Chichester; Francis Turner, Bishop of Ely; Thomas White, Bishop of Peterborough; Thomas Cartwright, Bishop of Chester; Robert Frampton, Bishop of Gloucester; William Lloyd, Bishop of Norwich; William Thomas, Bishop of Worcester. These nine bishops were joined by around four hundred clergy and numerous laity. In 1690, the Nonjuring bishops who were still alive, were deprived of their sees. There seems to have been conflict in allegiance between the Nonjuring bishops and the new bishops occupying their sees. The Nonjuring bishops did not recognize the new bishops and consecrated alternative Nonjuring bishops to occupy their sees, for example, George Hickes was consecrated as a Nonjuring bishop of Thetford, and Thomas Wagstaffe, bishop of Ipswich. Their protest developed into two points, one temporal and one ecclesiastical. The “State Point” was that William’s claim to the throne was not valid and the “Church point” was that the monarch did not have the right to deprive bishops without ecclesiastical approval. It appears that some Nonjuring laity worshiped in alternative Nonjuring parishes, where they were available. Others continued worshiping in their parish churches but not participating in the state prayers. Likewise, some Nonjuring clergy continued their positions in their parishes but not saying the State prayers for the new monarchs. “Practice as to public worship therefore inevitably varied. Some, like Law and Nelson, attended their parish churches, without protest against the "immoral prayers." Others went, but protested: Frampton, retaining a small living, read the service and preached, but omitted the names of the sovereigns. Others, again, attended only failing some convenient Nonjuring assembly. And others refused attendance altogether, holding, with Sancroft, that it would necessitate a second absolution after the service” (Gaskoin). It is also important to note that the majority of the Scottish bishops joined the Nonjuring cause. As the 18th century progressed, the Nonjuring schism healed itself as Jacobitism gradually became untenable. However, there were some Nonjurors who lasted into the 19th century, still clinging to the validity of the “Church point” and obviously displaying some (later) Tractarian concerns about the spiritual independence of the Church.

It is hard to discuss theological views held by the Nonjurors as a group because they were not a homogenous group. They represented a microcosm of High Church theology and practice in the 17th and 18th centuries.

One of the clearest marks of distinction between (some) Nonjurors and their Establishment brethren was their liturgy. Early on, the Nonjurors continued using the 1662 Prayer Book (while changing the State prayers). However, Bishop Hickes had begun using the 1549 Prayer Book and after his death in 1715, a group within the Nonjuror community led by Collier and Brett compiled a new service book, completed in 1718. This service book championed four “usages” which these Nonjurors believed necessary to the Eucharistic service, and in some cases, necessary to salvation, coincidentally, this group was called the “Usagers”. However, the other portion of Nonjurors did not agree with the idea that these “usages” were necessary for the proper celebration of Holy Communion and stuck with the 1662 liturgy, they were called Non-Usagers, accordingly. Both groups consecrated rival bishops to continue their viewpoint to the successive generations. The four “usages”, according to Jeremy Collier, were:

1. [P]utting a little Pure Water to the Wine in the Chalice.
2. In the first Reform'd Liturgy above-mention'd, the Priest says, Let us pray for the whole State of Christ's Church, without the addition of Militant here on Earth; which latter Words, in the Common-Prayer now used, seem inserted to exclude Prayer for the Dead. Whereas the first Book, in the Prayer for Christ's Church, has these Words;--We commend unto thy Mercy (O Lord) all other thy Servants, which are departed hence from us with the Sign of Faith, and now do rest in the [10/11] Sleep of Peace: Grant unto them, we beseech thee, thy Mercy and everlasting Peace, and that at the Day of the general Resurrection, we and all they which be of the Mystical Body of thy Son, may all together be set on his Right Hand, and hear that his most joyful Voice: Come unto me, &c.
3. The Third Passage to be Restor'd, is the Prayer for the Descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Sacramental Elements. The Words in our First Reform'd Liturgy stand thus in the Consecration Prayer: Hear us, (O Merciful Father) we beseech thee, and with thy Holy Spirit and Word vouchsafe to bless and sanctify these thy Gifts and Creatures of Bread and Wine, that they may be unto us the Body and Blood of thy most dearly Beloved Son Jesus Christ.
4. The Fourth Thing to be restor'd, is the Oblatory Prayer, which in the First Reform'd Liturgy at the End of the Consecration Prayer stands thus;
Wherefore, O Lord and Heavenly Father, according to the Institution of thy dearly beloved Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, we thy humble Servants do celebrate and make here before thy Divine Majesty, with these thy holy Gifts, the Memorial which thy Son hath willed us to make; having in Remembrance his blessed Passion; mighty Resurrection; and glorious Ascension; rendering unto thee most hearty Thanks for the innumerable Benefits procured unto us by the same, entirely desiring thy Father Goodness, &c. As the Prayer foes on in the Post Communion of our present Liturgy.

In addition to these usages, the Nonjurors were also doing other things which would not have been common in the Established Church. For instance, the liturgy of 1718 included a table of psalms appointed for introits. In this regard, they stood with the earlier Caroline Divines who sung psalms and the liturgy. Cosin is noted to have allowed the singing of a psalm before and after his sermons. The Carolines and Nonjurors preferred chant over merical psalters, “I hope a prose Psalm
may be said to be taken out of the Bible, more properly than the wretched lines
of Hopkins and Sternhold” (Broxap, 13). The Nonjurors revived the use of copes for parish clergy and other vestments such as the alb and chasuble which had been abandoned at the Reformation. “[B]y consulting the Roman
Missal and perhaps discoursing with some Roman priests about their habits, he
learned from them that they used copes and vestments of different colours,
according to the different seasons of the year, which if I remember right are
green for Spring, white for Summer, scarlet for Autumn and purple for Winter;
whereupon he provided himself with a set of all these colours. Though I believe
the Church of England either before or since the Reformation never directed
these different colours” (Broxap, 14). Likewise, the Nonjurors continued in the tradition of the Laudians by having elaborate altar furnishings and candlesticks, alms basins, crosses, gold and silver patens and chalices, altar plates, flagons, credence tables, and other elaborate things which were advocated by the Caroline Divines but which would have been eschewed by puritan clergy. They seemed to advocate the eastward facing position of the priest at Communion rather than the north end as dictated in the Prayer Book rubrics.

However, the reasons behind these usages describe in detail the theological divergence between Establishment High Churchmen and the “Usager” camp of Nonjurors. Not all Nonjurors held to the extreme views of the Usagers, neither were all of the Non-usagers to be counted as moderate. The first usage is strictly a ceremonial aspect of the liturgy which appeals to antiquity. While not an essential aspect of the service, I find nothing objectionable to using a mixed chalice in divine service. I would stand with the Lincoln Judgment in the late 19th century and say that it is unlawful to liturgically mix the water with the wine within the service but a prepared flagon with water and wine is acceptable. However, when we investigate the other three usages, we find several theological problems with these usages based on the formularies of the Anglican Church. First, to begin our discussion, I post Article 22, “The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping and Adoration, as well of Images as of Relics, and also Invocation of Saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.” However, Collier says, “This Recommending the Dead to the Mercy of God, is nothing of the Remains of Popery, but a constant Usage of the Primitive Church: And for this Point we shall produce exceptionable Authority… This Custom neither supposes the Modern Purgatory, nor gives any Encouragement to Libertinism and Vice… The Custom seems to have gone upon this Principle, That supreme Happiness is not to be expected till the Resurrection: And that the Interval between Death and the End of the World, is a State of imperfect Bliss; the Church might therefore believe her Prayers for good People might improve their Condition, and raise the Satisfactions of this Period.” Collier then goes on to critique Bucer who he states is responsible for the deletion of the prayers for the deceased in the English liturgy. Overall, Collier implies that prayers for the Christian dead are not prohibited in Scripture and therefore are edifying for the Church today. However, the main body of Anglican Christians did not support the practice due to its association with the medieval doctrine of purgatory, whatever the thought about the nature of the immediate state. Bucer cites Romans 14:23, “But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin,” arguing that whatever done in prayer must be done with express warrant from Scripture. This line of argument sounds like the regulative principle of Scripture which has not been part of Anglicanism. Bucer also cites Revelation 14:13, “’Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Blessed indeed,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!’” Perhaps Hebrews 9:27 can shed some light, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,” thus negating any need to pray for our deceased brothers and sisters. More enlightening is the fact that the only proof for prayers for the dead in the Jewish world come from the Apocryphal books, specifically 2 Maccabees,

“Then under the tunic of each one of the dead they found sacred tokens of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear. And it became clear to all that this was the reason these men had fallen. So they all blessed the ways of the Lord, the righteous judge, who reveals the things that are hidden; and they turned to supplication, praying that the sin that had been committed might be wholly blotted out. The noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened as the result of the sin of those who had fallen. He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin-offering. In doing this he acted very well and honourably, taking account of the resurrection. For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, so that they might be delivered from their sin” (2 Maccabees 12:40-45).

Part of the problem with the doctrines concerning the immediate state is that it is mostly theological speculation. Again, the only proof is found in 2 Maccabees, which, “the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine” (Article 6). While the scope of this post is not to theologically critique the position of the Nonjurors, I feel that this idea is prominent in modern Anglicanism which has opened the door to prayers for the deceased and a moderate doctrine of the immediate state. Perhaps, Protestant High Churchmen and other churchmen should think twice before we authorize prayers for the faithful departed in worship or at least offer extensive catechism to insure a sound understanding of it.

The third usage calls for the epiclesis over the elements, which the 1549 had as follows,

“Hear us, (O Merciful Father) we beseech thee, and with thy Holy Spirit and Word vouchsafe to bless and sanctify these thy Gifts and Creatures of Bread and Wine, that they may be unto us the Body and Blood of thy most dearly Beloved Son Jesus Christ.”

The Usagers looked to the early Church to validate their belief in the epiclesis. This was necessitated by their understanding of the Eucharist. Collier says, “the Prayer for the Descent of the Holy-Ghost was made for transfusing the mystick Virtue upon the Elements, and giving them the Efficacy of the Institution… And tho' we are willing to believe, the Force of the Invocation may be contain'd by Implication in our present Office; yet since express Terms are more instructive and solemn, since this has been the Practice of the Antient Church, we can't help proffering the Form of the First Liturgy.” The Nonjurors differed from other High Churchmen in their understanding of Holy Communion because they adopted a doctrine called “virtualism” which was different from the majority opinion called “receptionism.” Bishop Deacon explains their understanding of the Eucharist, where the priest,

“does as Christ did...he next repeats our Saviour’s powerful words “This is my
Body,” “This is my Blood” over the Bread and Cup. The effect of the words is
that the Bread and Cup are made authoritative Representations or symbols of
Christ’s crucified Body and of His Blood shed; and in consequence they are in a
capacity of being offered to God as the great Christian Sacrifice....God accepts
the Sacrifice and returns it to us again to feast upon, in order that we may be
thereby partakers of all the benefits of our Saviour’s Death and Passion. The
Bread and Cup become capable of conferring these benefits on the priest praying
to God the Father to send the Holy’ Spirit upon them. The Bread and Cup are
thereby made the Spiritual, Life-giving Body and Blood of Christ, in Power and
Virtue” (Broxap, 1).

The virtualist understanding of the Eucharist differs from recpetionism in that it maintains that there is a change in the elements. There is not a substantial change as is understood by the doctrines of transubstantiation or consubstantiation. The majority of English High Churchmen within the Established Church of England held to receptionism, which denies any change in the elements but maintains that when the faithful communicant receives the consecrated bread and wine receives the body and blood of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit in faith. Daniel Waterland, in his book, A Review of the Doctrine of the Eucharist, presents the classic High Church understanding of the Eucharist. He discusses the relation of consecration on the elements,

“the consecration of the elements makes them holy symbols, relatively holy, on account of their relation to what they represent, or point to, by Divine institution: and it is God that gives them this holiness by the ministry of the word. The sanctification of the communicants (which is God’s word also) is of distinct consideration from the former, though they are often confounded: and to this part belongs what has been improperly called making the symbols become our Lord’s body; and which really means making them his body to us; or more plainly still, making us partakers of our Lord’s broken body and blood shed at the same time that we receive the holy symbols.”

Thus the receptionist position favors the “instrumental” view of consecration, making the elements instruments of Christ’s presence but not a conversion into his body and blood literally or properly. It is important to note that receptionism does not deny the “real presence.” The issue at the time of the Reformation was not over whether or not Christ was present in the Eucharist but how. Receptionism claims that Christ is not eaten through the mouth but by faith, Waterland explains,

“the thing received is very distinct from the hand receiving; therefore faith is not the meat, but the mean. Belief in Christ is the condition required, the duty commanded: but the bread of life is the reward consequent. Believing is not eating or drinking the fruits of Christ’s passion, but it is preparatory to it, as the means to the end. In short, faith, ordinarily, is the qualification, or one qualification; but the body and blood is the gift itself, and the real inheritance. The doctrine of Christ, lodged in the soul, is what gives the soul its proper temperature and fitness to receive the heavenly food: but the heavenly food is Christ himself, as once crucified, who has since been glorified.”

Another key tenet of receptionism is that the unworthy or those who do not receive the sacrament in faith do not partake of Christ. This teaching is summed up in Article 29:

“The Wicked, and such as be void of a lively faith, although they do carnally and visibly press with their teeth (as Saint Augustine saith) the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ; yet in no wise are they partakers of Christ: but rather, to their condemnation, do eat and drink the sign or Sacrament of so great a thing.”

Waterland and other High Churchmen stand in this understanding of the Eucharist,

“The Eucharist in its primary intention, and in its effects to all worthy communicants, is a communion of Christ’s body broken and blood shed, that is to say, a present partaking of, or having a part in our Lord’s passion, and the reconcilement therein made, and the blessed fruits of it. This is plain good sense, and undeniable truth. ‘The body and blood of Christ are verily and indeed received of the faithful: that is, they have a real part and portion given them in the death and sufferings of the Lord Jesus, whose body was broken and blood shed for the remission of sins. They truly and indeed partake of the virtue of his bloody sacrifice, whereby he hath obtained eternal redemption for us’ [quoted from Simon Patrick’s workChristian Sacrifice, page 53]”

The virtualist understanding of the Eucharist is maintained by Nonjurors and their liturgies and also by John Johnson in his book, The Unbloody Sacrifice. Johnson expresses the view expounded by Deacon earlier,

“The Bread and Wine are not the Body and Blood, in themselves considered [i.e. actually], nor merely by their resembling or representing the Body and Blood, but by the inward invisible power of the Spirit; by which the Sacramental Body and Blood are made as powerful and effectual for the ends of religion, as the natural body Itself could be if It was present.”

And again,

“Though the Eucharistical elements are not the substantial Body and Blood; nay, they are the figurative and representative symbols of them; yet they are somewhat more too; they are the mysterious Body and Blood of our ever-blessed Redeemer. By the mysterious Body and Blood … I mean neither substantial nor yet merely figurative, but the middle between these extreme, viz. the Bread and Wine made the Body and Blood of Christ by the secret power of the Spirit; and apprehended to be so, not by our senses, but by our faith, directed and influenced by the same Holy Spirit; and made the Body and Blood in such a manner as human reason cannot perfectly comprehend.”

By this series of quotes, the reader can get a feel for the differences between these two views of the Eucharist. Essentially, these differences flesh out in the practice of the liturgy and theology of the ministry in addition to the relation of sacrifice to the Eucharist.

The last usage has to do with the relation between sacrifice and the celebration of the Holy Communion. Collier begins,

“The Oblatory Prayer goes upon this Ground, that the Holy Eucharist is a proper Sacrifice: And that our Blessed saviour at his last Supper, offered the Bread and Wine to God the Father, as the Symbols of his Body and Blood, and commanded his Apostles to do the same.”

Johnson explores the notion of sacrifice in Unbloody Sacrifice,

“That material bread and wine, as the sacramental body and blood of Christ, were by solemn act of oblation in the Eucharist offered to Almighty God in the primitive Church, and that they were so offered by Christ Himself in the institution… That the Eucharistical bread and wine, or body and blood, are to be offered for the acknowledgment of God’s dominion and other attributes, and for procuring divine blessing, especially remission of sins… That the Communion Table is a proper altar… this sacrifice is to procure divine blessings, and especially pardon of sin. In the first respect it is propitiatory, in the second expiatory, by virtue of its principle, the grand sacrifice.”

Waterland understands the relation differently,

“that it was true and evangelical service, as opposed to legal: in the sense, the eucharistical service was itself true sacrifice, and properly our sacrifice. And if, over and above, the elements themselves, unconsecrated, were ever called a sacrifice, or sacrifices, the meaning still was, that the service was the sacrifice: but when the consecrated elements had that name, it was only a metonymy of the sign for the thing signified, as they represent, and in effect exhibit, the grand sacrifice of the cross.”


“Christians cannot partake of a any sacrifice in a literal sense … we may indeed partake of Christ’s sacrifice, a proper sacrifice, but not in a literal sense; for the participation is spiritual: we may literally partake of the elements; but they are not a proper sacrifice, but symbolical, and commemorative, being that they are memorial signs of the sacrifice, not the sacrifice itself… As to the name memorial, it may be noted, that it is capable of a twofold meaning, according as it may be applied. Apply it to the elements, and so it means a memorial sign, no sacrifice at all; apply it to the prayers, praises, and eucharistical actions, and then it means a memorial service, and is a sacrifice, a spiritual sacrifice”

In addition to the usages above, the Nonjurors were noted for their maintenance of the episcopate in an environment where it was not necessary in relation to the state. The Nonjurors also stopped consecrating bishops to particular sees but rather “bishops at large,”

“After the ordination of Hickes as Suffragan Bishop of Thetford and Thomas Wagstaffe as Bishop of Ipswich, the second generation of Non-Juring bishops did not take territorial titles. They were ‘bishops at large’ rather like the Catholic Vicars Apostolic of the period. Hickes’ maintenance of the sacredness of the episcopal order had, ironically, resulted in a significant innovation to the episcopacy; not since the days of Celtic Christianity had Britain seen bishops without sees. It was Hickes’ profound conviction that the episcopal order had the authority of Scripture behind it – and the Bangorian Controversy began when Benjamin Hoadly challenged Hickes in the most radical way by denying that Scripture licensed any form of church government. For very different reasons, Hoadly was taking up the view of earlier Puritans who had advocated the abolition of episcopacy in the Church of England on the grounds that it was unscriptural. The difference now was that Hoadly – a territorial bishop – was maintaining the unscriptural character of the episcopacy against Non-Jurors without territorial bishops. The old Puritan objection to ‘prelacy,’ that the cathedral foundations simply perpetuated Popish practice, lost its force against the Non-Jurors, who no longer enjoyed the privileges of the established church that had always tempted insincerity for the sake of advancement. The Non-Jurors maintained episcopacy for its own sake as the apostolic form of church government.”

The above examples show where the Nonjurors departed from their High Church counterparts in the Established Church, however, they were similar in some ways. They both did not maintain that auricular confession was necessary in any sort of way as the later Tractarians would do, “the Non-Jurors practised Confession just so much
or little as their brethren of the Established Church” (Broxap, 5). The Nonjurors differed with the High Churchmen in regards to the spiritual independence of the Church which they maintained, while the High Churchmen maintained that the Church and state were inseparable. The Nonjurors did not depart from Anglican standards and history as later Tractarians would do but they were on the edge of conformity supported by Anglicanism. They did not eschew Protestantism, “I do believe the Holy Scriptures and the three Creeds as so many just summaries of the Credenda. I am in communion, as you lately was, with the primitive Fathers of the Catholic all which I observe so far as I am by God’s help able, the noble rule of the Church of England’s reformation from popery. I am in full communion with a whole National, Episcopal, Protestant Church” (Broxap, 6). However, there was so apprehension to the word,

“There is one thing more that I think proper to observe to you at this
time by way of caution that we ought to be very careful that we be not cheated
with the words “Protestant Religion,” which have been for some years past, very
rife in the mouths of a certain party, as if there were some one particular religion
to be called by that name, more than any other. The word protestant, indeed, is
known and understood by us to signify a protester against popery, and therefore,
all but papists may properly enough be called protestants; therefore, the
Lutherans, the Calvinists, the Anabaptists, Muggletonians, Socinians, Deists,
nay, Atheists, all come under the denomination as well as the Church of
England, but these are not one but several religions who differ from each other
in fundamental points, so that to say the Protestant Religion, as denoting a
particular church or sect, is absurd, because the word protestant, as it is vulgarly
understood, signifies not any one church or sect, but is merely negative, and
intimates that those so-called are not papists, but does not inform them what
they are....But if there be a religion which is to be called protestant by reason of
eminence as most remarkably so, as having in a particular manner publicly
exhibited their protest against the corruptions of the Church of Rome, in a more
solemn way than others have done, then only the Lutheran religion can be called
protestant in this sense....But if we will understand the word protestant in its full
latitude and as it commonly means, then we ought to say the protestant religions
in the plural number, for Protestant Religion in the singular number, is in that
sense absurd and nonsensical.”

As we have seen in this post, the Nonjurors were an interesting ecclesiastical group in Anglican history. They stood by their conviction that the oath they made at ordination was binding. Some of them went on a theological tangent that led them to the edges of Anglican conformity. They were not proto-Tractarians and the Anglo-Catholic movement cannot claim them as spiritual predecessors.



BCP Anglican said...

This post, like a number of your posts, provides great information and an interesting perspective on the reformed catholicism of the Anglican High Church tradition. I may not agree with every detail or assertion, but your work represents an important voice in Anglican thought. So I'm including this blog on my own list.

Jordan said...

Thank you for your comment. I enjoy your blog's dedication to the BCP. Good liturgy is key for us in the US and Canada to revive good theology.

God bless!