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Friday, August 18, 2017
Date Posted:

An Appeal To The Laity To Oppose Ritualism

By The Rev. W. C. Magee Late Archbishop of York
Rev. W. C. Magee

MAGEE, WILLIAM CONNOR (eld. Son of John Magee, V. of Drogheda, d. 1837).  b. in apartment next library of Cork cathedral 18 Dec. 1821; ed. at Kilkenny coll. and at Trin. Coll. Dublin, scholar 1838; B.A. 1842, B.D. 1854, D.D. 1860, Donncllan lecturer 1865; C. of St Thomas, Dublin 1844-6; C. of St. Saviour’s Bath 1848-50; chaplain of Octagon chapel, Bath 1850-60; preb. of Wells cath. May 1859 to 1861; P.C. of Quebec chapel, London 1860-1; R of Enniskillen 1861; dean of Cork 1 Feb 1864 to Oct. 1868; dean of chapel royal, Dublin 1866-9;commenced erecting Cork cath.; bishop of Peterborough 14 Oct. 1866, consecrated at Whitehall chapel 15 Nov. 1868; D.C.L. of Oxf. Univ. 21 June 1870; made a noted speech against the disestablishment of the Irish church; president of the Church congress at Leicester, Oct. 1680; select preacher univ. of Oxf. 1880-2; archbishop of York 30 Jan. 1891, enthroned in York minister 17 March; one of the greatest orators of his day; author of Sermons at St. Saviour’s, Bath 1854; Sermons at the Octagon chapel, Bath 1852; The Gospel and the age 1884; The Atonement 1886 and 40 other works. d. at an hotel in Suffolk st. Pall Mall, London 5 May 1891. bur. Burial ground Peterborough cathedral 9 May, a cenotaph bearing his effigy unveiled in Peterborough cathedral 9 Oct. 1893.


I would ask these men who are so industriously Romanizing our Church whether the Reformation was a mere juggle, in which the people of England were played with – a mere concession to the people, in which nothing was given except that which could not by possibility be kept back?  If it were not, if the Reformation were a great reality; a victory won by brave, and great, and good men, which restored our faith to its purity, and our ritual to its simplicity, our laity to their rights, and our clergy to their duties, then what have they so valuable to offer in exchange, that we should give up those blessings for which our martyred fathers died?  I remember having read, that when Napoleon established the Empire in France, he restored among other things, the celebration of the mass; and when it was being performed in presence of one of his marshals, he asked him, “Is there anything wanting there?”  The marshal replied, “Nothing, but the 200,00 men who died to destroy what you have succeeded in setting up.”  When, therefore, these men, these anti-Protestants, plume themselves in having succeeded in setting up their “Brummagem” imitation of Romanism, which looks beside the original like a pasteboard cathedral beside St. Paul’s – when they decorate their churches with hagioscopes, sedilias, a rood-screens, and bedeck, and bedizen, and bespangle themselves in such a manner as makes it hard to distinguish between a clergyman and a “histrionic performer,” and turn round with a self-satisfied and complacent look, and say, “Is not that fine?  Is not that the true Anglo-Catholic style?  What is there wanting?”  I hope they will be told that there is nothing wanting but the few hundred foolish old prejudiced men who died to pull down what they had set up.  I hope those persons will be told of the existence of an old ultra-Protestant book called “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs,” wherein may be read of one whom we have not year learned to call “an irreverent dissenter,” who publicly cast from him those glittering gew-gaws and robes in which they appear now to take so much pride; and of another who, as the flames were curling up the stake to which he was bound, cheered his brother martyr with the assurance that “They would that day light a candle in England which, by God’s grace, would never be put out” (Cheers).  I am glad to hear those cheers, for they are an answer to the question, “Will you allow that glorious light to be put out for any candles on the altar?”  Laity of England’s Church, rise up as one man to defend the inheritance won for you by the noblest and the holiest of England’s noble army of martyrs.  Contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to those saints, and by them bequeathed to us.

None can accuse you of being too hasty in thus coming forward to defend our Church.  Is there not a cause?  Have you not endured even to the last limits of endurance the doings of these Romanizers?  You have allowed them to deform your ancient parish churches, to travestie your beautiful service into a sort of something between singing and saying, which you can scarcely understand – you have endured this because you have at least the Prayer Book at home.  These men have gone into their pulpits and preached these doctrines, which we felt to be evil and dangerous, and this, too, has been endured, for those who hear it say, when they go home they can teach God’s Word in its purity to their children and families.  Even by the grave-side they have contrived to outrage the feelings and embitter the grief of those who would fain bury their dead in peace, and the broken-hearted are not apt to be vociferous.  But when these men have now, with unhallowed footsteps invaded your households, and have dared to bring the worst atrocities of Rome into the last sanctuary of an Englishman, his home – it is time to resist.  As Englishmen loudly and clearly – as Christians, temperately and firmly – declare that you will resist these innovations, by raising throughout the length and breadth of the land the old cry which your forefather’s have raised – the cry of “No Popery” – no Popery in the Church – no Popery in the Prayer Book – no Popery by the grave-side – no Popery by your hearths and in your homes.  Say that, and God will speed you. –

Extract from a Speech delivered by the Rev. W. C. Magee, of Bath, in 1852, afterwards Archbishop of York.

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