"All the blessings possessed by us in our national Church": Richard Mant and affection for Anglicanism's native piety

In two charges to his clergy in 1842, Richard Mant, Bishop of Down, Connor and Dromore, addressed "certain publications, under the title of 'Tracts for the Times,' which have of late been the subject of much public discussion".  Mant's Charges - published under the title The Laws of the Church, the Churchman's Guard against Romanism and Puritanism - were a superb example of how High Church bishops used their episcopal charges to refute Tract XC and restate the Old High Church tradition in the face of Tractarianism's misreading of the tradition.

In these extracts from the Charges, Mant points to how Tractarianism had abandoned "affectionate attachment" to the native piety and native constitution of Anglicanism, a defining characteristic of the High Church tradition. 

From the Charge to the clergy of Down and Connor, June 1842:

Be it our second caution, that, in our extreme reverence and affection for the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church at large, we do not abate the feelings and restrict the conduct of dutiful respect, which becomes us in relation to our national branch of it.

To be conscious on good grounds that we are true members of the Catholic Church of Christ, such as she was founded under his authority by his Apostles, is one of the purest and most abundant sources of delight, which in our present state of trial has been vouchsafed to us by our God and Redeemer.  But all the means of grace and holiness, all the blessings of apostolical doctrine and fellowship, are possessed by us in our national Church; and it is by communion with her that we have communion with "the Holy Ghost throughout all the world". To her, our most holy mother in Christ Jesus our Lord, our first, our best, our most affectionate regards are due; the regards of dutiful children to a tender parent deserving of all love and honour.

[S]he claims our filial confidence, as in this kingdom the legitimate descendant of primeval, and the unrivalled glory of modern, Christendom ... who bore us at our new birth, and carried us in her arms, and strengthened us by the imposition of hands episcopal, and fed us with the bread of life, and gave us to drink the waters of salvation, and sent us forth, as her ministers and representatives, under a solemn pledge to "give our faithful diligence always so to minister the doctrine and sacraments, and the discipline of Christ, as the Lord hath commanded, and as she hath received the same".

From the Charge to the clergy of Dromore, July 1842:

But to those who contemplate the Rome-ward movement, on the one hand, though they may not participate in the excessive alarm which has been raised on that behalf, still sufficient reason may appear for caution, lest we be betrayed into an abatement of affectionate attachment, and a partial dereliction of duty, to our reformed Church.

Comments

  1. As a matter of stylistic curiosity, I note the use of "Rd" before "Down, Connor and Dromore". I've seen this in a few other places, does anyone know what it means?

    I was wondering if "Reverend" but surely it would then be "Right Reverend"?

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    1. Excellent question. I will have to examine further.

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  2. There is no theology here- he argues here purely on the basis of filial loyalty to one's native church, a sentiment he certainly did not respect among the Irish people he was posted to, and who ran him out of his see in Killaloe.

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    1. The idea that filial loyalty to one's native Church is not a deeply theological concept is, I think, somewhat odd. "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it ...".

      As to your comment regarding his experience in Killaloe, the point is that Mant regarded the Church of Ireland to be the native church of this Island. It continues to be the claim of the Declaration of the Church of Ireland, to which all clergy in this Church subscribe: " this the Ancient Catholic and Apostolic Church of Ireland".

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