Certainly the asceticism and ritualism might so be interpreted, for there was among the Jews of the Dispersion an increasing tendency to asceticism, by way of protest against the excesses of the Gentiles.
But Yahwism, like Islam, had its sects and tendencies, and the opponents to the stricter ritualism always had followers.
With the later High Church movement, usually described as Ritualism, he had less sympathy.
Magee took a prominent part in the Ritual controversy, opposing what he conceived to be romanizing excess in ritual, as well as the endeavour of the opposite party to "put down Ritualism," as Disraeli expressed it, by the operation of the civil law.
At all events, if these writings have many old elements and may be used to illustrate the background of the New Testament, they illustrate not only the excessive legalism and ritualism against which early Christianity contended, but also the more spiritual and ethical side of Judaism.
The Sassanid Empire, indeed, is completely dominated by this formalism and ritualism; but the earlier testimony of Darius in his inscriptions and the statements in Herodotus enable us still to recognize the original healthy life of a religion capable of awakening the enthusiastic devotion of the inner man.
With them the ritualism and magical character, above mentioned, are fully developed.
Colenso's Commentary on the Romans in 1861, Wilberforce endeavoured to induce the author to hold a private conference with him; but after the publication of the first two parts of the Pentateuch Critically Examined he drew up the address of the bishops which called on Colenso to resign his bishopric. In 1867 he framed the first Report of the Ritualistic Commission, in which coercive measures against ritualism were discountenanced by the use of the word "restrain" instead of "abolish" or "prohibit."
Disraeli, who from first to last held to the Reformed Church as capable of dispensing social good as no other organization might, supported the Bill as "putting down ritualism"; spoke very vehemently; gave so much offence that at one time neither the bill nor the government seemed quite safe.
The Episcopalians, in this period, were nearly as much perturbed as the Presbyterians, by questions as to the election of bishops in relation to their exiled king, and by the introduction of ritualism in the shape of " the usages."