HEATH V BURDER

1860, 1862

The Members of the Judicial Committee present were:-

On the Appeal from the Interlocutory Judgment. First hearing - 

THE ARCHBISHIP OF YORK (Longley).
LORD KINGSDOWN.
LORD JUSTICE KNIGHT BRUCE.
LORD JUSTICE TURNER.
SIR E. RYAN.

Second hearing - 

THE ARCHBISHOP OF YORK.
LORD CRANWORTH.
LORD CHELMSFORD.
LORD KINGSDOWN.
SIR E. RYAN.
SIR J. T. COLERIGHT.

On the Appeal from the Definitive Sentence - 

THE ARCHBISHOP OF YORK.
THE BISHOP OF LONDON (Tait).
LORD CRANWORTH.
LORD JUSTICE KNIGHT BRUCE.
LORD JUSTICE TURNER.

[This case came three times before the Judicial Committee; twice upon the allegation of insufficiency in the statement of accusation, and once upon the merits of the case.

 

The Judgments on the question of the sufficiency of the accusation determine - 

 

In a proceeding under 13 Eliz. c. 12, being a penal Statute, it is necessary that, besides the extracts from the writings of the accused person, the Articles of Charge should contain a statement of those portions of the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion which he is alleged to have contravened, and a specification of the unsound doctrine which he is alleged to have maintained.

 

But if a single distinct passage complained of contains a plain meaning, which can admit of no doubt, it may be sufficient to set it out, and state that it is directly contrary to such one or more of the Thirty-nine Articles as are conceived to be opposed to it.

 

The Judgment upon the merits of the case decides the following points:-

 

1st. It is immaterial, in a general charge of publishing false doctrine in sermons, whether the sermons were actually preached or not.

2d. The word "advisedly," in 13 Eliz. c. 12, s. 2, means not "intentionally," or "avowedly," but "deliberately." 

3d. It is the duty of the Court in considering a charge of contravening the Articles of Religion, to satisfy itself, (1) As to the meaning of the Article alleged to be contravened, (2) As to the meaning fairly to be put on the language of the accused person.

 

4th. It is not necessary, in order to bring a Clergyman within the Statut, 13 Eliz. c. 12, that the Court should distinctly comprehend the exact bearing of the whole of his opinions on the subject as to which false doctrine is imputed to him. It is sufficient that he should have propounded doctrine directly contrary to the doctrine laid down in the Articles.

 

5th. To obtain the benefit provided by the Statute (13 Eliz. c. 12, viz. the benefit of retraction), the clergyman accused must hand in to Court a formal revocation of those parts of his published writings which have been adjudged heretical.

 

6th. A clergyman affirms doctrine directly contrary and repugnant to the Articles-

(a.) By maintaining that justification by faith is the putting every one in his right place by our Saviour's trust in the future, and that the faith by which man is justified is not his faith in Christ, but the faith of Christ Himself;

(b.) By maintaining that Christ's blood was not poured out to propitiate His kind and benevolent Father;

(c.) By maintaining that forgiveness of sins has nothing at all to do with the Gospel;

(d.) By maintaining that the idea and phrases, "guilt of sin," "satisfaction," "merit," "necessary to salvation," "have been foisted into modern theology without sanction from Scripture, and do darken and confuse the clearest of the otherwise most intelligible and comforting statements of Holy Writ."]

 

The Rev. Dunbar Isidore Heath, the appellant, held the vicarage of Brading, in the Isle of Wight, on the presentation of Trinity College, Cambridge, of which he had been a Fellow. He published, in 1858, a small volume of sermons, called "Sermons on Important Subjects," which appear never to have been preached. The Bishop of Winchester, considering that the doctrine advanced in this book was inconsistent with that of he Articles of the Church, instituted a suit against the author, by Letters of Request to the Court of Arches, where Mr. Burder, Secretary to the Bishop, exhibited articles of charge in the beginning of 1860. These articles, fourteen in number, gave copious extracts from Mr. Heath's book, and declared, generally, that the passages so quoted were repugnant to the doctrine of the Thirty-nine Articles.

 

Objections were raised to the articles of charge by Mr. Heath's counsel, on the ground that they did not specify (1) what it was in these extracts that was contrary to the Thirty-nine Articles, nor (2) which if the Thirty-nine Articles were alleged to be contravened. The Dean of Arches  Dr Lushington) ordered that they should be reformed, but only on the ground of the latter omission.

 

Accordingly, the articles were reformed by the addition to each extract of the statement that it was repugnant to certain Articles of the Church, of which the number and title were given and the passages alleged to contain the doctrines impugned set out in a schedule, side by side with the appellant's statements on the same subjects.

 

This form of pleading being unprecedented, a fresh objection was taken to the articles of charge by Mr. Heath's counsel, on the ground that the actual doctrine said to be contained in the extracts from the book ought to be stated, in order that the appellant might know precisely of what he was accused and also that, if he wished to retract, he might have his error pointed out to him.

 

Dr. Lushington, in an interlocutory judgment, delivered on the 25th of April, 1860, overruled this objection, holding that it was enough for the prosecutor to place the words of the accused in juxtaposition with those of the Articles, without further specifying the import of either, or the nature of their repugnancy to each other. This he considered to be the function of the Court, and he denied that any injustice could result from the want of greater precision. He, however, though with considerable hesitation, gave leave to appeal, on the ground of the gravity of the case; and the form of the pleadings was thus brought before the Judicial Committee.

 

On July 9th, 1860, Judgment was pronounced by Lord Kingsdown:-

 

"This case came before us on an appeal from an interlocutory order of the Dean of the Arches, in a cause of office promoted at the instance of the Bishop of Winchester against the Appellant, who is the Vicar of the parish within his Lordship's Diocese.

 

The question for consideration is whether the articles exhibited against the Appellant state, with sufficient certainty, the offence with which he is charged, and are admissible, therefore, in their present shape. The learned Judge in the Court below is of opinion that they are sufficient. The order being merely interlocutory, it was in the discretion of the Judge, by the Statute under which he acted, to give or to refuse liberty to appeal, and he determined, not without some hesitation, to grant this liberty.

 

"The Appellant prays 'their Lordships to report to Her Majesty in favour of the appeal and complaint of the Reverend Dunbar Isidore Heath, and that the decree, or interlocutory  order, or sentence of the Judge of the Arches Court of Canterbury, appealed from , ought to be reversed; and that the articles in this criminal suit be ordered to be further reformed, so as to contain an exact and precise statement of those portions of the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, which it is alleged that the passages from the Appellant's Sermons contravene; and also a specification, or statement, of the unsound doctrine or heresy which the Appellant is alleged to have advisedly maintained, and which he is called upon to revoke under the Statute, 13th Eliz. c. 12.'

"The articles thus exhibited appear to rest upon two distinct grounds of complaint; one, an alleged violation of the Statute, 13th Elizabeth, entitled 'An Act for the Ministers of the Church to be of sound Religion,' the other, an alleged violation of the Ecclesiastical laws, by publishing doctrines in derogation and depraving of the Book of Common Prayer.

 

"The Statute, 13th Elizabeth, c. 12, above referred to, after requiring  that certain Priests and Ministers shall declare their assent, and subscribe to all the Articles of Religion which only concern the confession of the true Christian faith and the doctrine of the Sacraments, proceeds to enact, sec. 2, 'That if any person Ecclesiastical, or which shall have Ecclesiastical living, shall advisedly maintain or affirm any doctrine directly contrary or repugnant to any of the said Articles, and being convented before the Bishop of the Diocese, or the Ordinary, or before the Queen's Highness Commissioners in Causes Ecclesiastical, shall persist therein, or not revoke his error, or after such revocation eftsoon affirm such untrue doctrine, such maintaining, or affirming, and persisting, or such eftsoon affirming, shall be just cause to deprive such person of his Ecclesiastical promotions, and it shall be lawful to the Bishop of the Diocese, or the Ordinary, or the said Commissioners, to deprive such person so persisting or lawfully convicted of such eftsoons affirming, and upon such sentence of deprivation pronounced, he shall be indeed deprived.'

 

"This, therefore, is an eminently penal Statute; a prosecution under it may result in depriving the offender of his benefice, and, possibly, therefore, may destroy all his means of livelihood.

 

"It is of the essence of justice, and is a principle fully recognised by the law of England, that a person indicted for a breach of the law shall be distinctly informed, before he is called upon to defend himself, of the nature of the offence with which he is charged.

 

"That the Courts of Common Law would apply this doctrine to the offences of the nature of that imputed to the Defendant, if such offences came indirectly before them, may be inferred from Specot's Case (5 Co. Rep. 57), in which, on Quare impedit, the Bishop pleaded that he was justified in refusing to admit the Clerk, because on examination he found him to be an inveterate schismatic. It was held 'that the cause of the schism or heresy for which the prosecutor is refused ought to be alleged in certain,' and judgment passed against the Bishop.

 

"The cases cited at the bar seem to prove that the same rule is adopted in the Ecclesiastical Courts, at least in proceedings under the Statute of 13th Elizabeth.

 

"In the case of Salter v Davies, (1. See Introd. P. lvi.) in the year 1692, in Whiston's Case (2. See Appendix, p. 318.) in 1713, in The King's Proctor v. Stone (3. See Appendix, p. 348.) in 1808, the particulars of the erroneous doctrines imputed to the Defendants, and the articles to which they were repugnant were stated with great distinctness. The Defendants could have no doubt as to the error which they were required to revoke, and in the last case the Defendant affected to recant, though in terms obviously insufficient and evasive.

 

"The case of Sanders v Head (4. See p. 30.) in 1843, was not a proceeding under the 13th Elizabeth. The Defendant was charged with having maintained propositions in derogation and depraving of the Prayer Book, and the Court seems to have taken a distinction between the two classes of offences, and to have held that in the latter a great laxity is allowed; 'that when the general law Ecclesiastical is relied on, it is not necessary to plead specifically; that where the offence is one generally cognizable in the Ecclesiastical Courts, it is not necessary to point out the particular Canons or Statute on which the proceedings are founded.'

 

"Yet even here, though the same strictness of pleading may not be necessary, it is requisite that the accusation should show distinctly of what the Defendant is accused - a point upon which, in the case of Sanders v. Head, no doubt could exist.

 

"The case of Hodgson v. Oakeley, in 1845, was of the same description, with Sanders v. Head. Mr. Oakeley did not hold any living, but was merely a licensed curate within the diocese of London. He was charged with having offended against the laws Ecclesiastical, by maintaining doctrines directly contrary and repugnant to the true usual literal meaning of the Articles of Religion as by law established, or one of them, and contrary to the laws, Statutes, Constitutions, and Canons Ecclesiastical of the realm, and against the peace and unity of the Church.

 

"It appeared by the pamphlet complained of, in the opinion of the Judge, that Mr. Oakeley 'held without distinction all Roman doctrine - everything that has been, and still is, maintained and taught by that Church.'

 

"Yet, even here, the very able Judge who decided the case, Sir Herbert Jenner Fust, seems to have doubted whether the articles contained a sufficient specification of the offence, and he states that he had expected to hear an argument by Mr. Oakeley's Counsel on the point. Mr. Oakeley, however, did not appear, nor could he with any colour of reason have pretended ignorance of the offence imputed to him. The ground on which the learned Judge held the charge sufficient was this - that there was no affirmance of any particular doctrine; Mr. Oakelely claimed to hold, affirm, and maintain all the doctrines of the Church of Rome, consequently it would be next to impossible to plead the charge in detail.

 

"That in whatever form questions of this kind arise, both the party accused and the Court before which they are brought have a right to require that the doctrine of the Church alleged to be impugned, and the doctrine of the accused which is alleged to impugn it, shall be stated with sufficient  distinctness  to enable the one to frame his defence, and the other to discover from the pleadings what are the real points in controversy, is apparent from what fell both from the Dean of the Arches and the Judicial Committee in the Gorham case.

 

"That case was brought on by Act on petition, instead of by plea and proof. Sir Herbert Jenner Fust observes (in the Report of that case by Mr. Moore, page 135) that the proceeding ought to have been by plea and proof; that 'the Court would then have had the entire case brought clearly and distinctly to its notice, the doctrines of the Church of England upon which it was meant to rely on behalf of the Bishop would have been specifically and precisely stated, as well as those points of doctrine which it was said Mr.Gorham had impugned.' At the next page he observes, that 'the law ought to have been specifically pleaded, the law of the Church, the doctrines of the Church of England, and the points in Mr. Gorham's answers which are said to be contrary to those doctrines.'

 

"He afterwards complains that in consequence of the course which had been pursued, 'it being nowhere stated clearly and distinctly that the doctrine of the Church of England is, the Court had been forced to travel through the various questions and answers, and other particulars contained in the volume referred to, in order to ascertain for itself, as well as it could, what the doctrine of the Church of England was, and in what respects Mr. Gorham held opinions contrary thereto' (p.137)

 

"When that case came before this Board, their Lordships entirely concurred in the observations which had been made in the Court below, and remarked, 'that the inconvenience was so great, and the difficulty of coming to a right conclusion was thereby so unnecessarily increased, that in their opinion the Judge below would have been well justified in refusing to pronounce any opinion upon the case as appearing on the pleading, and requiring the parties, even at the last moment, to bring forward the case in a regular manner by plea and proof' (page 461 (see above, p.88))

 

"It is obvious that the whole force of their remark depends upon the assumption that if the case had been brought forward by plea and proof, the statement of doctrine on each side referred to by the Judge below would have been contained in it.

 

"Applying these principles to the case before us, we have to consider whether the articles give to the accused Clerk that distinct notice of the offences imputed to him which reason and authority alike require.

 

"Now the articles, after the mere formal pleadings, allege (article 6) that the Appellant wrote, printed, and published nineteen Sermons which are contained in a book described in the article. That in such book are contained certain passages, set out at length, and said to be taken from twelve different pages of the book; and they object to the Appellant that these passages 'do severally and together contain doctrines directly contrary and repugnant to the doctrines of the United Church of England and Ireland, as in the aforesaid Articles of religion contained,' and more especially to twelve of the Articles which they specify.

 

"They then 'object to him all and every other matter in the said book or pamphlet, or course of Sermons, contrary or repugnant to the doctrines of the said United Church of England and Ireland.'

 

"The succeeding articles of the libel, the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th, pursue exactly the same line, extracting long passages from different pages of the book, and alleging them to be contrary to certain of the Thirty-nine Articles, which they specify.

 

"Originally it appears that the libel specified none of the Thirty-nine Articles, and it was in substance merely an allegation that the passages in question were contrary to the Thirty-nine Articles.

 

"It appears to have been held by the Court below that this mode of pleading was too loose, and the learned Judge, therefore, required the Prosecutor to specify the particular Articles of the Church of England against which the Defendant was supposed to have offended, and this has been accordingly done; but it appears to their Lordships that it has been done in such a manner as in no degree whatever to relieve the Defendant from embarrassment as to the nature of the charges which he is called upon to meet. 

 

"What may be necessary for this purpose must depend upon the circumstances of each particular case. If a single distinct passage complained of contains a plain meaning which can admit of no doubt, it may be sufficient to set it out, and to state that it is directly contrary and repugnant to such one or more of the Thirty-nine Articles as are conceived to be opposed to it.

 

"In such a case the Defendant is fully apprized of the real nature of the charge. He may, if he pleases, insist that the proposition which he has maintained is not contrary to the Articles, or he may admit that it is so, and recall it.

 

"But the case is for otherwise when a number of passages are collected together, which enunciate no single definite proposition, which embrace a variety of topics, some extracts having to an ordinary understanding no meaning at all, and others expressed in language with respect to the meaning of which different guesses may be made of different minds.

 

"Take the first class of passages collected here in the sixth article. We presume that when they are explained by the context in which they are found, and the Court is assisted by the observations which will be made by the Counsel on each side, some distinct intelligible propositions will be educed from them, which will be argued on the one side to be in accordance with, and on the other to be in contradiction to, certain doctrines of the Church of England, as laid down in her Articles of Faith, and upon which the Court will be able to form an opinion. But we cannot say that this is the case at present.

 

"Then, is the matter mended by the reference to the particular Articles of Faith introduced by amendment?

 

"We cannot think that it is.

 

"Those Articles that are specified relate to a great variety of subjects. They are the 2nd , 3rd, 8th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 25th, 27th, and 28th.

 

"The 2nd is entitled 'Of the Word, or Son of God, which was made very Man.' The 3rd, 'Of the going down of Christ into Hell;' on the proper meaning of which Article we believe that some difference of opinion prevails amongst orthodox divines. The 8th, 'Of the Three Creeds;' as to which, again, it may be observed, that a very great number of distinct propositions are contained in them, and with respect to some of which different interpretations have been given. The 10th is entitled, 'Of Free Will.' The 11th, 'Of the Justification of Man.' The 12th, 'Of Good Works.' The 13th, 'Of Works before Justification.' The 14th, 'Of Works of Supererogation.' The 15th, 'Of Christ along without Sin.' The 25th, 'Of the Sacraments.' The 27th, 'Of Baptism.' And the 28th, 'Of the Lord's Supper.'

 

Can it, with any reason, be said that a clergyman who is told that certain long passages extracted from his book, severally and together, contain doctrines directly contrary to these Articles, embracing such a great variety of propositions on subjects totally dissimilar from each other, ahs the slightest information afforded to him of what is the real complaint intended to be made against him?

 

It is said that the Defendant can have no difficulty in knowing what is imputed to him, for that he must know the meaning of what he has preached and published. Assuming that he does know his own meaning, he has a right to know what is the meaning which the accuser imputes to him: that if the meaning be not his, he may repudiate it; if it be his, and he persists in it, he may attempt to justify it; or if he feels it to be erroneous, he may revoke it.

 

"It is said again, the passages complained of are so confused, that the Prosecutor may be unable to say with certainty what is the true meaning. But the answer to this seems obvious. In order to convict the Defendant of maintaining false doctrines, the accuser must show what the doctrine complained of is. A man cannot contravene the Articles by writing stark nonsense. It is not denied that the false doctrine must be pointed out at the hearing, if it be not done now. The difference between doing it now and doing it then is this, that in the former alternative the Defendant will have an opportunity of judging whether he will defend himself or abandon his defense; and if he does defend himself, he will have the means of preparing for his defense.

 

"Their Lordships, for these reasons, are of the opinion that the Appellant is entitled to a more distinct specification of the charges intended to be brought against him, than he can find in the articles as they at present stand, and that, therefore, they must be further reformed, so as to contain a statement of those portions of such of the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion as it is alleged that the passages from the Appellant's Sermons contravene, and a specification of the unsound doctrine or heresy which the Appellant is alleged to have maintained.

 

"Their Lordships intend to reserve this case before them until this reformation has been made, in order that they may judge of its sufficiency; and when a sufficient reformation shall have been made, to remit it to the Court below, to proceed with the cause.

 

"They think that there should be no costs of this appeal. They will humbly report to Her Majesty their opinion, to the effect which they have thus expressed.

 

"It is proper to mention that the Archbishop of York, who sat on the hearing of this case, has seen this judgment and his Grace concurs with it.

 

In accordance with this judgment, the articles were reformed; but they were again objected to by the Appellant, on the ground that they were precisely the same as those previously appealed against, and that the judgment of the Committee had been disregarded.

 

The Appellant's Counsel moreover objected to the articles as reformed, as not being confined to the penal Statute, the 13th Elizabeth, c. 12, and the Thirty-nine Articles, but mixed up with other charges apparently intended to be founded upon the Statute of Car. II. The Act of Uniformity, and the Ecclesiastical Law relating to the Book of Common Prayer. The same authorities were cited and relied on, as had been urged in support of the former objections.

 

The following Judgment was pronounced by Lord Cranworth:-

 

"I may state first that, at the commencement of the argument their Lordships supposed that the order made had been an order that the articles should be reformed in a particular mode, namely, that they should be reformed in accordance with the prayer of the Petition of Appeal. But we found upon looking at the Order itself, as it was in fact drawn up, that we were under a mistake, and that although that was undoubtedly the opinion of the Court, the Order was only drawn up directing the articles to be reformed, and, therefore, although they do not contain any specification of the matters required in the petition, if we had thought that the form in which they were now drawn up was calculated to do complete justice, we might have held that the Order had been complied with; but upon fully considering this case, we think, that as this is a penal proceeding, it would be extremely reasonable that the articles should be reformed in the spirit and according to the direction which had been intimated in giving judgment upon the former occasion. Unfortunately, we are a little in want of a precedent to judge by, but there is one precedent, viz. the precedent of Dr. Stones's case, which happened fifty years ago before Ecclesiastical Judges and Practitioners of the highest eminence, and we thought that was our precedent, and that the party accused is entitled to call upon those accusing him for a specification of what it is that is complained of, in the same spirit as was done in Stone's case. In that case the articles expressly stated that Dr. Stone was alleged to preach in contravention of the Articles of the Church of England. It was distinctly set out that he denied the Divinity of our Saviour and other matters of a similar nature, and we think that, acting upon that precedent, and acting in conformity with what is the general rule in criminal proceedings; viz. that the Court will look to what was the distinct nature of the charge in order that it may be understood: we ought to direct a further reformation of these articles, and more particularly, because in these criminal proceedings, there is power, which, as far as I am aware, occurs in not other proceeding, to the party accused, of setting himself right by retracting that which is alleged against him.

 

"Therefore, the Order is, that the articles should be reformed by specifying the several doctrines alleged to be affirmed by the Appellant, contrary to any of the Articles of the Church of England. With reference to the costs of this proceeding, we think that the Appellant is entitled to have both costs, and the articles must be reformed in accordance with this new order within a month. With regard to the suggestion of Counsel that we ought to dismiss the suit, on account of the delay in its prosecution, I may say that that is out of the question. There has been no laches, and if there had been, I do not think we could punish such laches, unless it had been very grievous indeed, by putting the party out of the reach of justice, even although the prosecutor had been negligent, but we do not think there was negligence at all here. The Order was made in June, and immediately after the long vacation the amendment was made."

 

The articles having been further reformed to the satisfaction of the Committee, were returned, on March 19th, to the Court of Arches, where the case was argued on June 17th and 18th, 1861.

 

The first five and the last four of the articles of charges were purely formal. Of the five original articles which dealt with Mr. Heath's doctrine, one was struck out, viz. the 9th, which charged unsound doctrine relating to the righteousness of God and the infliction of punishment in a future state. The four articles imputing heterodox doctrine to Mr. Heath, which remained when the case was brought before the Court of Arches on the merits, were admitted without alteration. The portions of the Formularies which they were alleged to contravene, will sufficiently appear in the Judgments of the Court of Arches. But the extracts from Mr. Heath's writings, (1 - The extracts would occupy about sixteen pages of the present work if given in full) cited in the articles will not be before the reader sufficiently to enable him to appreciate those Judgments without somewhat fuller quotations than are supplied in the Judgments themselves. The following are a few of the passages which give most clearly the opinions of Mr. Heath on the four subjects on which his doctrine was pronounced unsound.

 

1.Justification - In commenting upon the text in Psalm 130, "In His word is my trust," Mr. Heath says (Sermons, pp.29,30) - or the way by which God speaks to us, to put away what is done amiss. 'Oh Israel,' David then goes on to say, 'trust in the Lord, for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption; and he shall redeem Israel from all his sins. Clearly in this Psalm, then, David is preaching the Gospel, the Gospel of the remission of sins, the  Gospel that by the righteous system of Christ the free gift is to come upon all men unto justification of life; for as by one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall the many be placed aright. The whole of society, men, women, and children,, good  men, bad men, and middling sort of men, shall all be placed exactly aright, by the work of one man, even Jesus Christ. This is justification, or the doing of strict justice to all. And how shall it be? How shall man be justified? By a great deal of hard work, which requires a great deal of faith! For indeed a hard task it is to put mankind exactly right. And whose hard work? Of course the hard work of Jesus Christ, which by his own personal faith he carries out; the hard work of marking what is done amiss, showing it and explaining it to us, and then not abiding it; showing us the evil of it, persuading us to avoid it, to dismiss it, and thus gradually introducing a plenteous redemption from it. We, on our part, must have the same sort of faith to accept the good offices of Christ; we must believe that he has an office and a work' we must trust in his word, and believe that there shall yet be a justification, a restitution of all things, a putting things right without laws, but by a spiritual method, a righteousness introduced by faith, not forced into the world by law. Of course, if we really do believe all this; if - I say if - if we believe in the work of Jesus Christ, and the faith of Jesus Christ, we shall do our part in helping him forward; and when society really sets itself to put all men exactly in their right places, they will find themselves wonderfully strengthened from above; they will find Christ among them before they know it, directing them. The great day of Christ will have arrived, and justification by faith will be carried out."

 

2. Propitiation, - At page 91 :-

 

"Propitiation by the shedding of blood, is one of the oldest institutions in the world. Now I am afraid it is a very common idea, that the glorious and great God and Father of mankind, all holy and all loving, was propitiated one thousand eight hundred years ago by blood, and is propitiated now, at his minute, by our faith in this blood: I know not how to find words strong enough to express my abhorrence of this detestable doctrine. God is propitiated by Christ, but Christ's blood has long been poured out, not to propitiate his kind and benevolent Father, but to bring men up to his Father out of the system of law, which kept them away from the Father, and into the system of freedom, and spirit, and mercy, and grace, and faith which is pleasing to the Father. Christ is at this moment the propitiation not for our sins only, but for the whole world."

 

At page 419:-

 

"I have myself heard the question addressed to a meeting of about twenty clergymen, 'From whom did Christ buy the Church?' (to redeem is to buy here,) and after a long pause, not one of them had an answer. I have also heard the same question addressed to some dissenting ministers, and with the same shameful result. If they answered, 'He bought us from God,' they know well that they should differ in opinion from the four-and-twenty Elders who fell down before the Lamb, and sang a new song, saying, "Thou hast bought us to God.' And if they should answer, implying that he bought us from anybody or anything else but God, then all modern theology tumbles to bits, for it is all founded upon the statement, that God accepts the sufferings of Christ as a satisfaction or  price due to his justice."

 

3. Forgiveness and remission of Sin. - Mr. Heath drew a distinction between these two terms, considering, apparently, that Forgiveness implied merely a benevolent feeling towards another, but the Remission involved a change of disposition in the person to whom it was granted.

 

In a passage quoted from pp. 161-2 he says:-

 

"I do not say that the whole mischief originally arose, but it is certainly perpetuated, from our unfortunate translation. For myself, I feel beaten to the very ground at the enormity of the task of persuading all England to reject, totally, the idea of forgiveness of sins as having anything at all to do with the Gospel. Yet the case is as clear as can be; the Greeks had one word, we have two, so half the times their word came in we put in our first word, and for the other half we varied it by introducing our second. That the two ideas corresponding to our words are, in fact, just the contraries to each other, is evident enough, but nobody seems to care for such a small difficulty as this."

 

Again, in a passage from p. 166:-

 

"And what is the use of this forgiveness after all? The faith and repentance are absolutely good things in themselves; they improve the man's whole being; they tend essentially to increase the man's power of carrying out God's designs; they enlarge the subjects of communion between the man and his Creator: but while they do all this, and because they do all this, they, in the same proportion, do away with any more place for forgiveness in anything present or future."

 

And further on, speaking of those to whom Christ forgave sin: -

 

"He told them generally to 'go unto peace,' or 'go in peace,' as we have falsely translated it. This false translation covertly insinuates that peace is the immediate necessary effect of being forgiven, it elevates forgiveness in accordance with our heathen traditions into an unscriptural importance in God's scheme. God's scheme is a scheme for remission, but no scheme at all is required for forgiveness, which may and must be assumed, as a matter of course, unconditionally. Take again our text, 'In whom we have redemption, through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.' What has the mere forgiveness of sins to do with redemption? Simply and absolutely nothing. Supposing I forgive a man day after day; do I not rather hinder his redemption by confirming him a habit of sin?"

 

4. The passage quoted in the Judgment (p. 243) will convey sufficiently the meaning of the extracts cited in the last Article of Charge imputing false doctrine.

 

Before the hearing (22nd May, 1861), an allegation was brought in on behalf of Mr. Heath, to the effect that he had not, in any of the recited passages, maintained anything repugnant to the Articles, or repugnant to the Book of Common Prayer; and further, that, on the 2nd of January, 1860, he had offered, in a letter to the Bishop, to revoke any errors which should be pointed out to him; but had received an answer, referring him to the articles for a specification of them.

 

During the argument, Mr. Heath's counsel handed in a paper, containing a solemn affirmation to a similar effect, denying that he had "advisedly" contravened the Articles; and declaring that if, in the opinion of his Ordinary and the Dean of the Arches, he had done so in fact, he thereby expressed his regret and revoked his error.

 

On November 2nd, 1861, Dr. Lushington gave his Judgment, of which the following is an epitome:

 

With regard to the principles on which a decision in such cases as this is to be made, I cannot look for help in the interpretation of the Thirty-nine Articles to the animus with which subscription is made; nor to the opinions of writers on those Articles, since these writers interpret them by reference to Scripture. The Articles must be construed judicially, and the plain principles on which I must proceed have been laid down in the Gorham judgment; viz. (a) there are many matters which have not been defined by the Church, and which must be left open; (b) if the Rubrics and Formularies clearly and distinctly decide any question, we must conclude that the doctrine so decided is the doctrine so decided is the doctrine of the Church. The Court, therefore, must never assume either that anything is binding on the clergy which is not to be found in the Articles of Religion and Book of Common Prayer, or that anything therein found was not intended to have its full effect and operation. The Statute of 13th Elizabeth, in declaring that a doctrine to be condemned must be held advisedly, means not that is must intentionally contradict the doctrine of the Church, but that it must be deliberately held, and actually repugnant to that doctrine.

 

Proceeding, then to the articles of charge, I hold:

 

1. As to the doctrine of Justification, that the true interpretation of the 11th Article of Religion is, (1) that by Justification is meant being exclusively received into the favour of God; (2) that the merit of Christ is the cause of this reception; (3) that the condition is the faith of the recipient in the redemption of mankind through Christ.

 

Mr. Heath, on the contrary holds that Justification is, as it were, setting the word right; and though he declares this will be done by Christ, it is by the personal belief of the Saviour that it will, in his view, be done.

 

This is a new doctrine, which discards the conditions of the 11th Article, and substitutes another instead; it is the averment of a doctrine totally different and distinct. I think it, therefore, contrariant and repugnant to the 11th Article of Religion.

 

2. As to Reconciliation, the doctrine of the Church is, that the death of Christ is a propitiation by which God is reconciled to man.

 

Mr. Heath declares that the blood of Christ was not shed to propitiate His Father.

 

3. As to Forgiveness, it is the constant doctrine of the Church, that those who believe and repent are forgiven, for Christ's sake.

 

Mr. Heath says that he wishes "to persuade all England to reject totally the forgiveness of sins as having anything to do with the Gospel."

 

4. As to the theological terms, the use of which Mr. Heath condemns as darkening Holy Writ, the words "guilt of sin," "satisfaction," "necessary to salvation," are adopted by the Formularies, and are essential to the Articles in which they occur. To deny them, therefore, is to deny the Articles.

 

No explanation has been offered which in any way shows that Mr. Heath's opinions can be reconciled with the Articles; nor has any eminent divine been shown to have shared his views. Mr. Heath, therefore, must be condemned by the Articles imposed by law, and which the law along can change.

 

A fortnight having been allowed to elapse from the passing of the judgment, to give Mr. Heath time to consider whether he would retract, he again appeared before the Court, November 16th, 1861; and his counsel proposed that the opposite party, or the Court itself, should frame a form of retraction. The Judge, however, declared that if Mr. Heath were disposed to retract, he should himself frame his retraction, and, on his refusal to revoke the passages articled, or to tender any form of retraction, pronounced the sentence of  deprivation.

 

From this Mr. Heath appealed to the Judicial Committee, before whom his cause was heard in May, 1862.

 

Dr. Phillimore and Mr. Fitzjames Stephen appeared for Mr. Heath. Their argument was - that the proceedings against Mr. Heath, being founded exclusively on the Statute of Elizabeth, it was necessary that, according to that Statute, it should be shown that the errors imputed had been held "advisedly;" which term implied an intention, such as was shown in the case of Mr. Stone, who acknowledged the repugnance of his doctrine to the Articles: that the sermons not having been preached, Mr. Heath's book must be read as a whole, and that its general object was not in any way to assail the Articles: that his views might be taken as free comments upon matters treated in the Articles; but that such freedom as this had been used by many great English divines: further, that the Court of Arches had not specified what was the false doctrine which it imputed to Mr. Heath, and had made it impossible for him to retract; for if he withdrew all the passages articles, he must withdraw many statements of unquestionable truth.

 

Dr. Twiss and Dr. Swabey, for the Respondent, argued that the Act of Elizabeth was not to be construed with the strictness of a penal statute, and that the term "advisedly," as therein employed, meant "deliberately" [the Court here expressed themselves satisfied on this head]; that the "holding doctrine repugnant to the Articles" was clearly proved against Mr. Heath, and that the fact that his views were very confused did not make them less contradictory of the Articles; that the "persistence" of which the Statute spoke existed, for no retraction had been made by Mr. Heath, such as implied a confession that his doctrines were contrary to the Articles, or that he revoked them.

 

Dr. Phillimore, in the course of his reply, handed in two papers, signed by Mr. Heath, which purported to constitute a sufficient retraction. They were as follows:-

 

" 'Before the Judicial Committee of 

Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council.

 

" 'Heath v. Burder.

 

" 'The Court of Arches having held that certain Sermons published by me, and forming the subject matter of these proceedings, contain doctrines contrary and repugnant to several of the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, I, Dunbar Isidore Heath, the Appellant, hereby declare that I did not intend in the said Sermons to maintain any doctrines contrary to those contained in the said Articles of Religion, wherein I sincerely profess my entire belief. I also express my great regret at having used language in my said Sermons which has misled my readers, and caused such a construction to be put upon them.

 

"Dunbar Isidore Heath.

 

"'Doctors' Commons, London, E.C.

March 28, 1862.

 

The second paper was as follows:

 

"This is my opinion. Forgiveness is an attribute of  God, irrespective of the Gospel. The Gospel contained the particular scheme by which this general attribute was brought into action.

'Dunbar Isidore Heath.'

 

Lord Cranworth, after consulting with the other Lords, said,-

"By the Statute under which these proceedings were taken, Mr. Heath could, if he pleased, revoke his errors; and the proceedings would in that case be necessarily and peremptorily stayed. But the course he had taken, through his Counsel, of merely expressing his regret, was not by any means sufficient. To obtain the benefit the Statute provided, he must hand in to the Court a formal revocation of those parts of his published Sermons which had been held to be heretical by the Dean of the Court of Arches, and on the ground of which the sentence of deprivation had been pronounced against him."

 

Dr. Phillimore: Would it be sufficient for Mr. Heath to say, "I renounce the doctrine which it is judicially proved I have maintained?"

 

 

Lord Cranworth: That is not satisfactory - at least, speaking for myself.

 

The Archbishop of York and the Bishop of London, and Lord Justice Turner concurred. 

 

The Lord Justice Knight Bruce: It does appear to me that if Mr. Heath is sincere in these two papers, he can sincerely and honestly give that detailed retraction or revocation which Lord Cranworth has suggested. That is my impression.

 

Mr. Heath, through his Counsel, said he should decline a formal revocation, and their Lordships decided that the case must proceed.

 

Dr. Phillimore then replied generally.

 

On June 6th, 1862, the Judgment was delivered by Lord Cranworth:-

 

"The question which their Lordships have to decide in this case is one of considerable importance;- namely, whether certain opinions and doctrines entertained and promulgated by the Appellant, a beneficed clergyman, are, or are not, directly contrary or repugnant to the Articles of Religion, and, therefore, such as to create a forfeiture of his living under the 13th Elizabeth, c. 12.

 

"It may be well to premise that the offences charged against Mr. Heath, though of an ecclesiastical character, is one strictly defined by Statute. He is accused of having, in violation of an Act of Parliament, propounded doctrine contrary to that laid down in certain of the Articles of Religion. In investigating the justice of such a charge, we are bound to look solely to the Statute and the Articles. It would be a departure from our duty if we were to admit any discussion as to the conformity or non-conformity of the Articles of Religion, or any of them, with the Holy Scriptures. The Statute forbids the promulgation of any doctrine contradicting the Articles. It leaves no discretion. All, therefore, which we have to do is, first to ascertain, on the ordinary principles of construction, what is the true meaning of any of the Articles alleged to be infringed; next, what is the fair interpretation of the language used by Mr. Heath; and then, finally, to decide whether, by his language so construed, he has or has not put forward doctrine which contradicts the Articles.

 

"These are the principles of the decision which the Dean of the Arches laid down, and we think most correctly laid down, as those by which he ought to be governed, and they must also guide us.

 

"That very learned Judge, in an able and elaborate judgment, came to a decision adverse to the Appellant. He was of the opinion that the volume of Sermons published by the Appellant does contain doctrine irreconcilable with several of the Articles of Religion; and, therefore, in obedience to the Statute he pronounced the sentence of deprivation, the Appellant having declined to revoke the errors which he had promulgated.

 

"From that sentence the Appellant has appealed to Her Majesty in Council under Statute, 2nd & 3rd Will. IV cap. 92. And the case was argued in the month of March last, before their Lordships, at great but not unnecessary length, and with very great ability. We have given to the case the best attention in our power, and we are now prepared to state the advice we propose to tender to Here Majesty.

 

"The charge against the Appellant is, that in, or since, the month of March, 1858, he wrote and caused to be printed and published a volume containing nineteen Sermons in which he advisedly maintained and affirmed certain positions or doctrines directly contrary and repugnant to the doctrine of the United Church of England and Ireland as by law established, and especially to the Articles of Religion agreed upon in Convocation in 1562.

 

"In the argument before us a doubt was suggested whether these Sermons, or any of them, were ever preached. It is sufficient to say that there is no charge against the Appellant of having preached them, and, therefore, if that were material, which, however, we do not think it is, it must be taken that the publication charged is not a publication by preaching. The charge is a chare of publishing generally without indicating any particular mode of publication, and if any criminality would arise from publishing by preaching, greater than or different from what would be the consequence of publishing in any other mode, it must be taken that no such special criminality is alleged. For the purpose of this case, however, it does not occur to us that any such difference exists.

 

"It was also argued, that whatever may be theologically the merits or demerits of the volume in question, the Appellant cannot be said to have thereby advisedly maintained doctrines contrary to the Articles. It was contended, that the use of the word 'advisedly,' in the Statute of Elizabeth, must be understood to show that the enactment was directed against those who avowedly rejected the Articles; those who not only maintained doctrine at variance with them, but did so with the intention of disputing their soundness. The learned Judge below refused to listen to any such argument, and we think rightly. The word is evidently used to show that what the Statute points at, must be the deliberate act of the party charged, not a casual expression dropped, to use the correlative term, unadvisedly. The word is used in the same sense as in the Statute, 9th & 10th Will. c. 32. On this point it is impossible to entertain a doubt.

 

"We come, therefore, to the substantial question in dispute. Do the passages complained of in Mr. Heath's Sermons contain doctrine contrary to the Articles of Religion as settled by Convocation in 1562?

 

"As the pleadings stood originally, Mr. Heath complained that the charges against him were stated in so vague and general a manner, that he was ignorant of the precise matter of accusation against him; and the question whether the pleadings stated the charge with sufficient distinctness, having, by leave of the Court below, been brought before their Lordships, they were of opinion, and reported to Her Majesty, that the articles ought to be reformed, so as to contain a statement of those portions of the Thirty-nine Articles which the Appellant's Sermons were said to contravene, and a specification of the unsound doctrine which he was alleged to have maintained. The articles were then reformed, but not, as their Lordships thought, satisfactorily. A further amendment was then made, and the Appellant did not oppose the pleadings as thus finally settled. It must be assumed, therefore, that the nature of the charge now appears with sufficient distinctness on the pleadings.

 

"Proceeding, then, as was done by the learned Judge below, with each charge separately, their Lordships will now follow the same course which he pursued. They must satisfy themselves first as to the meaning of the Article or Articles of Religion which in each charge is alleged to be contravened, and then as to the meaning fairly to be put on the language of the Appellant complained of. If the doctrine propounded by the Appellant can be reconciled with that enunciated by the Articles of Religion, then he will not have brought himself within the provisions of the Statute of Elizabeth. But if the propositions put forward by him cannot, upon any reasonable construction of them, consist with the Articles of Religion, and, on the contrary, are repugnant to them, then the judgment of the Court of Arches must stand.

 

There are four distinct heads of charge against the Appellant, each of which we will consider separately.

 

"In the first the charge is, that by certain passages set out at length, and nineteen Sermons, the Appellant advisedly maintained or affirmed doctrine directly contrary or repugnant to the 11th Article of Religion. That Article is in the following words:-

 

"Article 11. "Of the Justification of Man." We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by Faith only is a most wholesome Doctrine, and very full of comfort, as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification.'

 

"The evident meaning of this 11th Article is, that man is accounted righteous, which, in the Article, is treated as the same thing as being justified before God, not for his own merits, but for the merit of our Saviour, by faith in Him; i.e. that man is admitted to the favour of God, not for his own works or deservings, but for the merit of our Saviour, and by faith in Him, i.e. by man's faith in our Saviour (howsoever faith is to be defined).

 

"The question is, whether the passages cited from the Sermons under this head of charge contain doctrine directly contrary or repugnant to that thus set forth in the 11th Article?

 

"The learned Judge below held that they do, and in this view their Lordships concur. It was suggested that the passages complained of have no meaning, and so cannot be treated as containing any doctrine at all, orthodox or unorthodox. Undoubtedly, if the passages contained no intelligible proposition, they could not be described as containing doctrine contrary to the Articles. In such a case it would be impossible to say that they contained any doctrine. But after frequent examination of the passages in question, their Lordships cannot come to the conclusion that they are irrational in the sense of being incapable of having a meaning affixed to them.

 

"In the 3rd Sermon viz. that on the text, 'How then can man be justified with God?' the Appellant gives his explanation of the meaning of the word 'justification.' He says it means 'putting every one in his place, or doing strict justice to all;' and the scope of the Sermon seems to be to show, that whereas this object, ie, the object of justifying, or putting every one in his just place, is effected, or is attempted to be effected, where human laws are concerned, by inflicting penalties on those who are guilty of transgressions, the same end is or will be attained by our Saviour by spiritual means, by what Mr. Heath, speaking of our Saviour, calls His 'hard work,' which by His own personal faith He carries out.

 

"This same view of the subject pervades many of the other Sermons. Thus in the 6th he says:- 'The plan of Jesus is a most merciful and just one to the whole world. It is the great plan of Justification, and Jesus believes His own Gospel. He has faith in it, and by that faith He will succeed in it. Justification by the faith of Jesus will make the whole world safe. It is the introduction of just and simple righteousness.'

 

"Again, in the 14th Sermon, he says:- 'When I talk of justification by faith, I mean justification by our Saviour's trust in the future. The Saviour still trusts in our Father as He always did. He still has faith, and His faith still works by love. He still believes He can put the world right, and I believe so too.'

 

"The object of the last Sermon, the 19th, is to enforce very much the same views. 

 

"Now, with the most sincere endeavour to find some interpretation to be put on these passages consistent with the 11th Article, their Lordships are unable to do so. The doctrine of the Article is, that our justification arises from the merits of our Saviour by faith, ie. by the faith of man in our Saviour and His merits; whereas Mr. Heath first gives a new explanation of justification, which he thinks means the putting of every one in his just place; and this result he considers will follow, not from faith of man in the merits of his Saviour, but from the faith of our Saviour Himself. He in many passages labours the point, that the faith leading to justification is not the faith in Christ, but the faith of Christ.

 

"Their Lordships cannot understand him otherwise than as rejecting the doctrine founded on the merit of our Saviour and our faith in Him.

 

"In the 19th Sermon he says:- 'The inconsistency of modern theology is, indeed, most extraordinary; it first invents the word "merit," an unscriptural and incomprehensible work, which darkens everything.'

 

"He then goes into a long discussion on the meaning of the word 'merit,' and proceeds thus:- 'Now, after inventing this disagreeable word 'merit,' the modern theologians go on to say, that nobody has any merit except Christ, but the nearest approach any one can make to this incomprehensible word merit, is faith. A man cannot have merit, but he can have faith; and if he have faith, God will act towards him as if he had merit. So merit, then, is at least something rather near to faith. And now comes the inconsistency; for people talk of the merit of Christ. We are justified for the merit of Christ. We are also justified by faith. Then why will not people allow it is the faith of Christ, if it is the merit of Christ?'

 

"It is surely impossible to hold that the word 'merit' is an unscriptural and incomprehensible word, which darkens everything, and that the faith leading to justification is not the faith of man in Christ, but the faith of Christ in His own work, without at the same time contravening the doctrine of the 11th Article, that man is justified solely for the merit of Christ, and by faith in Christ. Their Lordships do not feel bound to say that they distinctly comprehend the exact bearing of the whole of Mr. Heath's opinions on this mysterious subject. Perhaps his own views are not very distinct or clear, even to himself. It is sufficient for the present purpose to say, that the doctrine propounded by him is not that contained in the 11th Article; it differs from it fundamentally and is inconsistent with it.

 

"The first charge against Mr. Heath, therefore, appears to us to be distinctly made out, and we will only add further on this part of the case, that we find nothing in any other part of the volume which can be held so to qualify the passages we have referred to as to enable us to attribute to them a meaning different from that which is certainly prima facie their import. We are aware that, in his fourth Sermon, p. 29, Mr. Heath has these words:- We, on our part, must have the same sort of faith to accept the good offices of Christ; we must believe that He has an office and a work; we must trust in His word, and believe that there shall yet be a justification, a restitution of all things, a putting things right without laws, but by spiritual methods; a righteousness introduced by faith, not forced into the world by law.'

 

"But whatever may be intended to be the qualifying force of this passage, we cannot hold that either in it or in any other part of the volume is the effect of those other statements done away in which, as we have already pointed out, Mr. Heath has taught that the doctrine of justification by faith is something entirely different from what the Articles declare it to be.

 

"The next charge which the Appellant was called on to answer was, that by certain passages in the 8th, 9th, 15th, 18th, and 19th Sermon he had advisedly maintained and affirmed doctrine directly contrary and repugnant to that part of the 2nd Article which is in the following words:- 'Whereof is one Christ, very God and very Man, who truly suffered, was crucified, dead and buried, to reconcile His Father to us, was to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men;' and also directly contrary and repugnant to the 31st Article, entitled 'Of the one Oblation of Christ finished upon the Cross.'

 

"These two Articles are as follows:- 'Article 2. "Of the Word or Son of God, which was made very Man." The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took man's nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin, of her substance: so that two whole and perfect Nature's that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one Person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God, and very Man; who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile His Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men.' 'Article 31. "Of the one Oblation of Christ finished upon the Cross." 'The Offering of Christ once made, is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction, for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for the sin, but that alone. Wherefore the sacrifices of Masses, in the which it was commonly said that the Priest did offer Christ for the quick and dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables, and dangerous deceits.'

 

"Now, proceeding, as we are bound to do, to put a construction on the language of these Articles, there surely is on difficulty in saying that they lay down as clear doctrine that our Saviour suffered and died in order to reconcile the Father to us, whatever may be the exact import of that phrase, and to be a sacrifice for sin. And further, that this sacrifice thus made was a perfect propitiation and satisfaction for the sins of all mankind.

 

"Their Lordships know not how to reconcile with these Articles the following passages:- 'I am afraid it  is a very common idea that God was propitiated 1,800 year ago by blood. I know not how to find words strong enough to express my abhorrence of this detestable doctrine. God is propitiated by Christ, but Christ's blood has long ago been poured out, not to propitiate His kind and benevolent Father, but to bring men to His Father again.' - 9th Sermon, p.91.

 

"It seems to us that this passage directly negatives the doctrine of the Articles. We cannot understand Mr. Heath otherwise than as expressing his conviction that Christ was not crucified, dead, and buried to reconcile His Father to us, and to be a sacrifice for the sins of the world, and that the offering of our Saviour so made was not a perfect propitiation or satisfaction for the sins of the world.

 

"And if this be a correct interpretation of the words which Mr. Heath uses, it is unnecessary minutely to inquire what are his precise views on these abstruse points. If he maintains what amounts to this, namely, that the doctrine laid down by the Articles is unsound, that is, within the meaning of the Statute, maintaining doctrine directly contrary and repugnant to the Articles. It is unnecessary to inquire what are his own views, or whether he has any clear views of his own; he violates the Statute equally by maintaining a negative - that the doctrine of the Articles is wrong - as by affirmatively stating some heterodox position.

 

"We are bound to add, in reference to this as well as to the former charge, that the effect of the passage we have quoted is not destroyed or modified by any others we can find in other parts of the volume. There is, indeed, a passage in this same 9th Sermon (p.87) in which Mr. Heath says of Christ, 'It was by His blood that He was a propitiation.' It is not for us to determine how this passage is to be reconciled with that which we have previously quoted. We are of opinion that the former is a direct contradiction of the Article; and nothing we can discover in other passages enables us to say that it is not a fair representation of Mr. Heath's views on this subject.

 

"This second charge, therefore, seems to their Lordships, as it did to the learned Dean of the Arches, to be clearly made out.

 

"The third charge is founded on several passages cited from the 16th Sermon, in which Mr. Heath is alleged to have maintained doctrines directly contrary and repugnant to the 8th Article, affirming the Apostle's Creed which declares our belief in the forgiveness of sins, and the Nicene Creed which declares our belief in one baptism for the remission of sins, and also contrary and repugnant to the 27th and 16th Articles. These Articles are as follow:-

 

" 'Article 8. "Of the Three Creeds." The three Creeds, Nicene Creed, Athanasius's Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostle's Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed; for they may be proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture.'

 

"Article 16. "Of Sin after Baptism." Not every deadly sin willingly committed after Baptism is sin against the Holy Ghost, and unpardonable. Wherefore the grant of repentance is not to be denied to such as fall into sin after Baptism. After we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace given, and fall into sin, and by the grace of God we may rise again, and amend our lives. And, therefore, they are to be condemned which say, they can no more sin as long as they live here, or deny the place of forgiveness to such as truly repent.'

 

"Article 27. "Of Baptism." Baptism is not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from others that be not christened, but it is also a sign of regeneration or new birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; the promises of forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed; faith is confirmed, and grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God. The Baptism of young children is in anywise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable with the institution of Christ.'

 

"The just interpretation of these Articles, taking the Creeds as incorporated with and forming part of them, is, so far as concerns our present inquiry, that in the Gospel dispensation are contained promises, on what conditions it is not necessary here to define, that God will forgive us our sins; that by baptism those promises of forgiveness are visibly signed and sealed; and that those who after baptism fall into sin may yet repent and obtain forgiveness.

 

"The whole of the 16th Sermon is devoted to the subject of the forgiveness of sins. It is entitled 'Forgiveness and Remission.' The text is from Colossians i. 14: 'In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins.'

 

"The whole scope of the Sermon seems to be, that there is not, and cannot be, in the Christian dispensation any such thing as a forgiveness of sins, using the word in its ordinary acceptation; that the word ought to be remission of sins, which Mr. Heath endeavours to explain as being something altogether different from forgiveness.

 

 

"Thus he says (p. 162)- 'For myself I feel beaten to the very ground at the enormity of the task of persuading all England to reject totally the idea of forgiveness of sins as having anything at all to do with the Gospel. Yet the case is as clear as can be. The Greeks had one word, we have two; so, half the times their word came in we put in our first word, and for the other half we varied it introducing our second. That the two ideas corresponding to our two words are, in fact, just the contraries to each other, is evident enough, but nobody seem to care for such a small difficulty as this."

 

"Again (p. 166):- 'Did Christ come for the remission of sins, or for the forgiveness of sins? If He came for the remission of sins, and if repentance and faith are necessary conditions in order to secure this forgiveness, then only one in a thousand, or less even, of the human race, will be forgiven.'

 

Again, at page 168:- "God's scheme is a scheme for remission, but no scheme at all is required for forgiveness, which may and must be assumed as a matter of course, unconditionally.'

 

There is much more in the Sermon to the same purport; the object being, apparently, to show that forgiveness of sins does not, and, for some reason which their Lordships are unable to understand, cannot form part of the Gospel dispensation; that in lieu of forgiveness, we ought to substitute in our minds and belief the word remission. Their Lordships must here remark, as on the preceding charge, that it is not necessary, in order to bring himself within the Statute, that Mr. Heath should have propounded any intelligible heterodox doctrine. It is sufficient that he should have propounded doctrine directly contrary or repugnant to the doctrine laid down in the Articles, and this he appears to their Lordships clearly to have done. It is impossible, with every inclination to put as favourable a construction as possible on his language, not to perceive that he rejects totally the idea of forgiveness of sins according to the ordinary meaning of the word forgiveness, as having anything to do with the Gospel; whereas it certainly is in the ordinary meaning of that word that we are taught to say, in the Apostle's Creed, that we believe in the forgiveness of sins. And it is in the same sense that the 16th Article states, that, 'they are to be condemned who deny the place of forgiveness to such as truly repent;' and that the 27th Article states 'the promises of forgiveness of sin to be visibly signed and sealed by Baptism.' It is true that the expression in the Nicene Creed is not 'forgiveness,' but 'remission.' It is evident, however, that the word remission is there used as equivalent to forgiveness. The one Baptism for the remission of sins, spoken of in the Nicene Creed, is that same Baptism by which the 27th Article states that the promises of forgiveness of sin are visibly signed and sealed. On these grounds we concur with the Court below in the conclusion that the third charge, like the two former, is fully established.

 

"The only remaining charge is one of a nature somewhat different from those which have already been considered. Mr. Heath begins his 12th Sermon as follows:- 'The more I study the Bile for myself, the more astounding I find it, how many of the most fundamental ideas and phrases of modern theology have been foisted in, without sanction from that all-sufficing record of our religion. One after another, no less than about twenty ideas or phrases, such as guilt of sin, paying a penalty, going to heaven, going to hell, immortality of the soul, satisfaction, imputed righteousness, appropriating the work of Christ, necessary to salvation, and many others, have vanished from my system, because, as a minister of Christ, studying these matters professionally, I see them to be phrases and ideas not only absent from Scripture, but darkening and confusing the clearest of the otherwise most intelligible and comforting statements of Holy Writ.'

 

"The charge against Mr. Heath under this head, as we understand it,  is, that some of the phrases and ideas which he thus repudiates, so form part of the propositions enunciated in the Articles that the rejection of the phrase and idea necessarily implies a rejection of the Article in which they are found. He cannot, for instance, reject as something which darkens and confuses the clearest statements of Holy Writ, the idea and phrase of 'guilt of sin,' without at the same time rejecting the doctrine contained in the 2nd Article, that 'Christ suffered to be a sacrifice not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men.'

 

So the 31st Article expressly declares, that 'the Offering of Christ once made was a perfect satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world;' and it is impossible for any one holding that doctrine to reject, as tending to darken the Holy Writ, the idea and phrase of 'satisfaction.'

 

The 6th of the Thirty-nine Articles declares that Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation. How can anyone be said to concur in this Article who rejects the idea involved in the phrase 'necessary to salvation,' as being calculated to darken and obscure Holy Writ? He cannot, as has been already stated under the first head of charge, reject the word 'merit' as unscriptual and incomprehensible, without at the same time rejecting the 11th Article, which declares that we are accounted righteous before God only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by faith. On all these points their Lordships think it impossible not to come to the conclusion that Mr. Heath has propounded doctrine incapable of being reconciled with the different Articles to which reference has been made.

 

There are other expressions imputed to Mr. Heath as controverting the Articles which their Lordships think more doubtful; he rejects the phrase and idea 'immortality of the soul,' as not warranted by Holy Writ. Now, it does not appear certain that he may not mean, by rejecting this phrase and idea, merely to express his opinion that there is no warrant in Holy Writ for the doctrine of immortality as a quality necessarily inherent in the soul.

 

So there are passages in Mr. Heath' Sermons, tending to show that when he rejects the phrases 'going to heaven' and 'going to hell,' he may not have meant to dispute the doctrine of everlasting life as it appears in the Creeds, but merely the language in which that doctrine is expressed when coupled with the word 'going;' and it is right to guard ourselves against the possibility of having in any point attributed to Mr. Heath a meaning contravening the Articles which may nevertheless consist with them. All the Creeds distinctly enunciate a belief in everlasting life, and if this was intended to be rejected by Mr. Heath, it is needless to say he would be repudiating the most fundamental doctrines of our Church; but it would be unsatisfactory to rest our decision on his rejection of these expressions, 'immortality of the soul,' 'going to heaven,' or 'going to hell,' as it is possible that in using them he might have had a meaning not inconsistent with the Articles.

 

"Reviewing, therefore, the whole case, their Lordships decide that Mr. Heath has maintained and affirmed doctrine directly contrary and repugnant to the Articles.

 

"He has done so:-

 

"First. By maintaining that justification by faith is the putting every one in his right place by our Saviour's trust in the future, and that the faith by which man is justified is not his faith in Christ, but the faith of Christ Himself;

 

"Secondly. By maintaining that Christ's blood was not poured out to propitiate His kind and benevolent Father;

 

"Thirdly. By maintaining that forgiveness of sins has nothing at all to do with the Gospel;

 

"And fourthly. By maintaining that the ideas and phrases 'guilt of sin,' 'satisfaction,' 'merit,' 'necessary to salvation,' 'have been foisted into modern theology without sanction from Scripture, and do darken and confuse the clearest of the otherwise most intelligible and comforting statements of Holy Writ.'

 

"Their Lordships have had their attention directed to a letter addressed by Mr. Heath to the Lord Bishop of Winchester, on the 2nd of January, 1860, in which he states that, if he has laid down any doctrine or position at variance with the Articles or formularies, he has done so unwittingly and in error, and in which he requests his Diocesan to point out in what respects he has done so, that he may correct whatever error he has fallen into. Another and more formal document has also been brought before their Lordships, in which Mr. Heath has stated that, if it appears to his Ordinary, and to the official Principal of his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, that his language does contain or teach a doctrine directly contrary or repugnant to any of the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, he expresses his regret and revokes his error. Their Lordships desire to know whether Mr. Heath is now ready to act in accordance with these statements. They are unwilling to proceed to the last step in their duty, but unless he expressly and unreservedly revokes the errors of which he has been thus convicted, their Lordships have no course left but to advise Her Majesty to confirm the sentence of deprivation under the Act.

 

At all events, Mr. Heath must pay the costs of this appeal. 

 

Mr. Heath, in person, having stated to their  Lordships that he had nothing to revoke, their Lordships agreed humbly to report to Her Majesty in the terms of the foregoing Judgment.

 

(Transcribed, Michael Heath-Caldwell, Brisbane 2006)

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