Sunday, February 21, 2010

Beyond Port and Prejudice - The High Church Revival Before the Tractarians

Fr Nalls' article on Bishop Hobart served to jog my memory about his English counterpart, the Right Rev. Charles Lloyd (1784-1829). Lloyd was a College Tutor, then Regius Professor of Divinity and finally Bishop of Oxford from 1827 until his death. His major work as a tutor and as Regius Professor led to him influencing a generation of Oxford theologians building on the work of William Van Mildert his predecessor as Regius Professor.

Seventeen years older than Lloyd, Van Mildert was a transitional figure. Born in 1767, he grew up in the 1770s and 1780s as Toryism and High Churchmanship came back into fashion. Oxford had been a High Church stronghold since the Restoration, but for much of that period, High Churchmanship has been associated with Jacobitism and political subversion. However, under George III there was a resurgence of the Toryism, which had the support of the King, and this benefitted the High Churchmen, who, free from the taint of Jacobitism, became less defensive. This renaissance of traditional High Church theology set the theological atmosphere at Oxford in the early nineteenth century. It also led to a significant High Church grouping emerging at Cambridge centred on Trinity College.

People like Van Mildert breathed new life into the High Church tradition. The new generation of High Church intellectual in both Universities were determined not only to advance the Apostolic claims of the Church of England, but also give them administrative reality through an active revival of Church discipline, and a programme of Church extension. The practical manifestation of this desire to improve religious provision in England's cities was the passage of the Million Act that allocated one million pounds for the construction of new parish churches. It received active support from High Church clerics, such as Charles Manners-Sutton, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and High Church politicians such as Lord Liverpool, and from an informal High Church ginger group referred to as the Hackney Phalanx. It was the first ig political success for High Church principles for nearly a century.

Although the Tractarians liked to present themselves as being like Melchizedeck, they were in fact the radicalized successors to the Old High Churchmanship of the Hackney Phalanx. The Phalanx was a loose collection of High Churchmen, about evenly divided between clergymen and laymen, who worked together to perpetuate High Church principles in the Universities, in the wider Church and in Parliament. In a sense the Hackney Phalanx was a late manifestation of "Church and King Toryism" but their emphasis was primarily spiritual, not political, thus anticipating Oxford Movement principles. One of the key "backroom boys" of the Hackey Phalanx was the Rev. Charles Lloyd, whose influence in Lambeth, and in Oxford helped to push forward High Church principles.

Lloyd was an hereditary High Churchman, the son of the clerical schoolmaster, who was himself an Oxford graduate. Tutored by his father, Lloyd achieved the prize of a King's Scholarship at Eton. From there, he went on to Christ Church, Oxford, where Lloyd took a first in Classics in 1804. He made the logical progression to become a fellow and tutor in his College and set about making himself into a theologian. He spent some time as a chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Charles Manners-Sutton, then moved into two positions recently vacated by William Van Mildert.

The first of these was the moderately wealthy Rectory of Ewelme, Berkshire, which was conveniently close to Oxford, and provided the Regius Professor of Divinity with a country retreat. This was held with a canonry at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, and was traditionally regarded as a stepping stone to a Bishopric. It was also increasingly regarded as a key teaching office in the Church of England, so it was a position that admirably suited Lloyds talents.

Like Van Mildert, Lloyd gave public lectures on what we would today call systematic and liturgical theology. Among his hearers were three key figures in the Oxford Movement - John Henry Newman; Edward Pusey; and Hurrell Froude. The founding minister of All Saints', Margaret Street, London - Frederick Oakley, also studied under Charles Lloyd. Among the things that they heard from his lips was that the Book of Common Prayer, "was but a reflection of mediaeval and primitive devotion, still embodied in its Latin form in the Roman service books." He also taught that prayers for the departed were not contrary to the Anglican tradition, and pointed to the essential continuity between pre- and post-reformation English Church.

Many of Lloyd's ideas were culled from the Caroline Divines and from their Non-Juror successors. After Lloyd's death in 1829, they reappeared in less hesitent form, in the Tract for the Times, the first of which, on Apostolic Succession, was written by Lloyd's pupil - J. H. Newman.

1 comment:

Canon Tallis said...

One of the major points which anglo-papists and their near fellows miss is that almost all of that which was found in the Tracts for the Times was not original, but he reiteration of what had been taught in the English Church from the Reformation and before. Those who don't think so should read Langland's The Vision of Piers the Plowman or the writings of the fourteenth century mystics such as Julian of Norwich, Richard Rolle, Walter Hilton or the author of the Cloud of Unknowing. It would also help if more of our people were familiar with St John Hope's book on English Church life between the Restoration and the Tractarian period.

An excellent and necessary post.