ESSAYS AND REVIEWS: The title of a book projected and edited by Henry Bristow Wilson (q.v.) and published in London Mar. 24, 1860, which occasioned a remarkable theological controversy. It included seven essays by as many authors: The Education of the World, by Frederick Temple; Bunsen's Biblical Researches, by Rowland Williams; On the Study of the Evidences of Christianity, by Baden Powell; Séances historiques de Genève, The National Church, by Henry Bristow Wilson; On the Mosaic Cosmogony, by Charles Wycliffe Goodwin; Tendencies of Religious Thought in England, 1688-1750, by Mark Pattison; and On the Interpretation of Scripture, by Benjamin Jowett.
With the exception of Goodwin all the writers were clergymen, and with the exception of Williams and Goodwin all were Oxford men. The book attracted little attention until the appearance of an anonymous review in the Westminster Review for Oct., 1860. Under the title Neo-Christianity the writer (Frederic Harrison) assumed a jubilant tone and welcomed the essayists to the ranks of liberalism (the review is reprinted in Harrison's Creed of a Layman, London, 1907). The clergy now took alarm. Samuel Wilberforce, bishop of Oxford, after warning his clergy against the book in his autumn charge, took up the controversy in the Quarterly Review for Jan., 1861. He accused the essayists of neology, rationalism, and skepticism, and denounced them for their dishonesty in holding such views and remaining in the Church. A petition of protest was presented to the archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Mar. 13, 1861, signed by 10,000 clergy. Meanwhile, on Feb. 16 there had appeared in the Times the so-called "Episcopal Manifesto," in the form of a letter from the archbishop of Canterbury in answer to one of the numerous remonstrances with which the bishops had been besieged; to it were affixed the names of twenty-five bishops, who joined the archbishop "in expressing the pain it has given them that any clergyman should have published such opinions." Both houses of convocation expressed condemnation of the book, and Williams and Wilson were summoned before the court of arches, which pronounced final decision in Dec., 1862. Williams was convicted of denying the inspiration of Holy Scripture and of holding heretical views on propitiation and justification, Wilson of denying the inspiration of Holy Scripture and also of denying the eternity of future punishment, and both were sentenced to suspension for one year, with payment of costs. Appeals to the queen in council were heard June 19-26 before the judicial committee, which included Lord Chancellor Westbury, Lords Cranworth, Chelmsford, and Kingsdown, the two archbishops, and the bishop of London, each appellant pleading his case in person. Lord Westbury finally delivered his judgment Feb. 8, 1864. Restricting itself to the specific passages cited by the prosecution, the court decided that the opinions expressed therein were not inconsistent with the articles and formularies of the Church of England. Accordingly the judgment of the court of arches was reversed; and the appellants were granted the costs of the appeal. Some of the points affirmed by the judgment were, that it is not penal in a clergyman "to speak of merit by transfer as a fiction," or "to deny the proposition that every part of every book of Holy Scripture was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and is the Word of God," or to express the hope "that even the ultimate pardon of the wicked, who are condemned in the day of judgment, may be consistent with the will of Almighty God." The decision naturally put a stop to a prosecution that had been begun against Jowett in the vice-chancellor's court at Oxford Feb. 20, 1863.
The announcement of the judgment started the agitation afresh. On Feb. 24, 1864, at the instance of E. B. Pusey, the so-called "Oxford Declaration on Inspiration and Eternal Punishment" was prepared and sent to every clergyman of the Established Church in England, Wales, and Ireland, with a letter adjuring him to sign it without delay. It was addressed to the bishops and archbishops, and in the course of a few weeks was signed by 11,000 clergymen. The two archbishops dissented from the judgment of the privy council and each stated his position in a pastoral letter. On Mar. 16, a deputation waited on them at Lambeth Palace to present an address signed, it was said, by 137,000 laymen, who desired to thank the primates for the stand they had taken. The bishop of London (Tait), who had concurred in the judgment, was made the subject of many attacks. In June a resolution offered by Wilberforce was carried in the upper house of convocation by a vote of eight to two (the bishops of London and Lincoln) synodically condemning the book "as containing teaching contrary to the doctrine received by the United Church of England and Ireland in common with the whole Catholic Church of Christ." After a stormy debate, in the course of which A. P. Stanley and others urged strong arguments against the measure, the lower house concurred in this resolution June 24 by a vote of thirty-nine to nineteen. In July Lord Houghton brought this action of convocation before the House of Lords. Lord Chancellor Westbury pronounced it illegal, but not worth noticing. "The judgment," he said, "is simply a series of well-lubricated terms, a sentence so oily and saponaceous that no one could grasp it"; from this characterization originated Wilberforce's nickname of "Soapy Sam" (see WILBERFORCE, SAMUEL). The judgment of the judicial committee, as a matter of course, became a part of the law of England and was ultimately acquiesced in. With the judgment in the Gorham Case (q.v.) it has established the right of an English clergyman freely to express the opinions he honestly holds.
How little this charge of heresy affected their ecclesiastical preferment is shown by the positions three of them subsequently held: Temple became bishop of Exeter (1869), of London 1885, and then archbishop of Canterbury (1896); Pattison rector of Lincoln College, Oxford (1861), and Jowett, master of Balliol (1870).