« PrécédentContinuer »
between the shepherd and his flock. This is, however, a subject upon which, though I have thought it my duty to touch, I should be reluctant to dwell; and I gladly leave it to more competent and experienced counsellors, only hoping and praying that the result of any change, while it preserves the independence of the clergy, and perhaps increases in some way their temporal comforts, may mainly tend to the sole legitimate object of our Establishment and of its endowments—the promotion of piety and virtue among the people, and the eternal welfare of souls.
“ The total abolition of pluralities—however desirable in theory—is obviously impracticable, until an income, adequate, according to the most moderate estimate, to the sustenance of a married clergy, can be assigned to each parish. When we learn, from high authority, that the whole income of benefices with cure of souls, if throwu into a mass and equally divided, would only produce about 1851. per annum; and, if the revenues of the other branches of the Established Church were added to it, little more than 2004. per annum; when we are also informed, from official returns, that there are still above three thousand livings under 1501. per annum, and at least fifteen hundred under 1001. per annum; we must, I fear, abandon any sanguine expectation of such a happy result in our times, however the approximation to it, as nearly as this difficulty will allow, may be our duty, our interest, and our inclination.
“ The measure for the augmentation of benefices by ecclesiastical bodies, manifests, by the very introduction of the bill, the existence of that inclination; and the speedy adoption of the provisions by the parties concerned, will, I doubt not, prove its sincerity and its strength. The bill sanctions afresh,-extends, facilitates, and encourages,—the most obviously suitable method of reducing, in a measure, the inequality of incomes derived from the Church. It raises to a higher scale of comfort the more, at the expense of the less, laborious branch of the Establishment; and while it leaves amply sufficient incentive and reward to superior merit, will, as far as it can proceed, essentially improve the deplorably deficient compensation for actual service.
“ Other plans of a still more extensive nature, involving sacrifices on the part of the more opulent beneficed clergy, for bettering the condition of the more indigent of their order, have probably been not unknown to most of those whom I see around me.” '.“ The increase of opportunities for religious worship by the erection of new chapels still greatly wanted, in spite of the large amount of public money expended by the Commissioners, and of private subscriptions intrusted to the Society for Building and Enlarging Churches is the object of the third bill. It adds to other motives the stimulus of the grant of patronage under proper guards and limitations -not as a means of personal gain—(for the value of the benefices created, can rarely, if ever, be equivalent to the sum contributed)—but as an opportunity of promoting esteemed ministers, and securing personal edification. It may thus, though, I fear, too long delayed_assist in some measure in filling up that void in the supply of public worship, which is still felt and lamented, and which consigns so many to neglect of religion and vicious dissipation, or leaves them to other teaching—perhaps of a questionable, and certainly in our view of an unauthorized and irresponsible, description.
« The Ecclesiastical Commission was appointed about two years ago, to examine into the conduct and defects of our courts of civil law and into the state of general discipline in the church, and to recommend measures for their improvement. The results of this commission—as exhibited in a very important and voluminous Reportwill give rise to several bills; and by these means bring, I trust, to a consummation a moderate and judicious reform, by which our Church will be able to answer the main objections of her adversaries, and may re-assume gradually that legitimate ascendancy of influence—as a tribute due to acknowledged excellence and experienced usefulness -which has been from various causes unhappily impaired. The changes in the functions and duties of our courts, in the system of their operation, and in their position and number-however necessary, and, I hope, in general well adapted to their object_are too remote from our sphere and habits of action, to allow of my appropriating to them more than a very small portion of our short and valuable time. Increased dispatch and reduced expense in the courts in general, and greater confidence in the decision of litigated cases by their removal to the metropolis and the consequent introduction of more legal experience, will, it is hoped, be the fruit of this inquiry, and the object of the bills to which it will give birth. But, I trust, that consonant to the precedents in all laudable reform, those changes will be carried into effect with all due and full attention to present vested interests and fair claims of sacrificed time and expense, and with a cautious reluctance to interfere, more than is necessary, with existing arrangements of great local convenience, and long tried and acknowledged benefit.
“ The more appropriate objects for our consideration comprised in the Report, relate to the uniformity and jurisdiction to be made co-extensive with the diocese; and to the grant of sufficient powers—effective and summary—for the correction of offences.
“ The two great and palpable evils which the suggestions of the Commissioners are intended to remove, appear to have arisen from two seemingly opposite causes, but producing similar effects-equally injurious to the discipline and good order of the Church. The one is a remnant of Popery. The court of Rome, for its own purposes, was ever anxious to curtail the episcopal power, and to exempt those bodies, which were far more subservient to its interests, from the controul of their legitimate superintendents. The present possessors of peculiars, and other exempt jurisdictions are, in general, representatives of such bodies ; and, not unnaturally, decline to give up any rights, which they have inherited, until the law sanctions or compels such abandonment.
“ The second defect noticed by the Ecclesiastical Commission in this part of their Report, relates to the present state of Church Discipline ; and it is one which, without doubt, demands a speedy remedy. It is to be ascribed, as I have before suggested, to a cause different from that of the former evil, but not dissimilar in its effects, and far more extensive in its operation. It is to be attributed, not to the usurpation of a foreign potentate, but to the aggression of a popular feeling. The abuse of a controlling power over the clergy by the High Commission Court, led naturally to a jealousy of all ecclesiastical authority; and, as even a just sense and exercise of liberty will sometimes generate an extreme of licence, so this feeling has doubtless checked even the wholesome use of episcopal power through its proper channels; and thrown such difficulties and obstacles in the way of its exertion--though in the clearest and strongest cases-that it is become almost an object of contempt rather than of salutary awe. The Synod of the Presbyterian Church, and even the Conference of the Methodists, are, in their measure, far more prompt, authoritative, and effectual, than Episcopal interference in the present state of the law. It is utterly impossible, of course, to give even an abstract of the plan proposed in the Report. But I am happy to state that, as far as I can judge from a cursory survey, it appears well calculated to promote the ends of substantial justice, to vindicate the insulted honour of the Church_which suffers most especially by the misconduct of her ministers—and to give full effect to grave and well grounded accusations, while it affords ample means for silencing frivolous, and rebutting false, charges, with a thorough re-establishment of the injured character, and the exposure of the calumniator.” pp. 11-21.
These extracts appear to us very important, as shewing the sincere wish which prevails in high quarters in the Church for reform, and the progress of several measures for effecting it—measures which, a few years since, would not have been entertained, but which are now stated to be but a portion of the intended improvements. What those intended improvements are, we cannot of course with certainty know, and we shall not venture upon reports or conjectures; but sure we are, that to be at all effective, they must be much larger than any of the bills which have yet been brought in by the Right Reverend bench. At the least, in our view, pluralities must be abolished, large parishes must be divided into pastoral districts, residence must be secured, tithes must be commuted, patronage must be subjected to higher responsibilities, and the inequalities of bishoprics must be lessened—we do not say equalized—which of itself would do away with the evil of frequent translations. There are many points also involving matters more directly spiritual, which must be attended to: especially the religious and professional education of the clergy. As for the proposed amendments in the Prayer-book, we have already expressed considerable jealousy respecting them *. There are some propositions which
We are not blind to defects, but we are jealous on many accounts; but mainly lest what is good should be as likely to be altered as what is doubtful; and lest, even after the alterations are made, there should be as little likelihood of comprehension as at present. When some forty years ago alterations were proposed, the Feather'stavern clergy wished to eviscerate the book nearly to the leanness of Socinianism : another class of clergymen, and among them Mr. (afterwards Bishop) Porteus, repelled this, but wished to conciliate " all good and moderate men,” by just setting aside the Seventeenth Article and other passages that Calvinists and enthusiasts are wont to claim. Another class of clergymen wished for only a very few alterations : among which they enumerated the absolution in the service for the sick, and those passages in the baptismal and the burial service which have given pain to many conscientious minds, and which are—or at least were—among the prominent objections of the Dissenters. But now these very passages are claimed as the sheet-anchor of the Church, not only by what are called the orthodox clergy, but by a class of clergymen who symbolize with the objectors in many of their general views of religion; but
we think decidedly objectionable, such as the revival of the Convocationunless it can be spiritualized as well as revivified; and many that we think doubtful; but the above seem to us clear and decided, -namely, the abolition of pluralities, the division of large parishes into pastoral districts, residence, commutation of tithes, a responsible and honest system of administering ecclesiastical patronage, and such an adjustment of the episcopal revenues as will make every see an adequate dignity, and lessen the evils of translation. We admit the difficulty of satisfactorily arranging all or any of these points; but we see nothing but what may be overcome by firmness, prudence, disinterestedness, and a competent knowledge of the subject. With regard, for instance, to the first of them-pluralities—respecting which so much apprehension is expressed, we feel none at all. We would make a law in three lines, that no clergyman shall henceforth be presented to a second piece of preferment with cure of souls, without vacating the first. What would be the immediate result ? Patrons, clergy, colleges, cathedrals, parishes, and the government and legislature, would all instantly coalesce in a variety of plans to augment poor benefices, to unite small contiguous parishes, and other useful and practicable schemes which they will never think of, or at least carry into effect, while pluralities are allowed. The difficulty that is made upon this part of the question appears to us the least of all the difficulties. Other points involve vested rights, private interests, and we know not what; but to say that no man shall, after such a day or year, take a second benefice with cure of souls, is a prospective act of legislation, which would set all to rights with the least possible share of public interference. Suppose the first living that becomes vacant is worth but 80l. a year—though such livings as this are not those which keep up the system of pluralities, which thrives chiefly among such as will amply allow of putting in a curate and reaping a surplus—but suppose an 801. living to fall vacant; can the patron find no competent clergyman who will take it? We believe, in the unhappily impoverished state of the clergy, he may find hundreds. Many a poor curate would be glad of 801. certain, till he obtained something better. And are there not several ways of augmenting this very living? The patron, the cathedral, the parishioners, public and private bounty, might all do something, and would if the clergyman were respected. But suppose, at the worst, that all means of augmentation failed, and that no clergyman would live on the benefice; why then, if the parish cannot maintain a clergyman, all parties must come to some arrangement; either by uniting it to an adjoining parish, or in some other way. But these, we repeat, are not the real impediments; they serve to talk of, but the actual obstacles are elsewhere : it is not the smallest class of livings that keeps up the tenacity for pluralities; it is because what is called a tolerably good living is in reality a starving to the sons of our nobility and gentry, who would feel
who adopt something of the system of Mr. Budd, in regard to the construction of a church, and the covenant privileges of its members. The great body of the Dissenters now say, that though the alteration of those particular passages would have satisfied the minds of many of their fathers, their own objections lie far deeper, involving the general principle of an Established Church; so that no alterations of this kind, they affirm, would now lead to a comprehension. We confess, therefore, that we see at present very little common ground for serious alterations in the Liturgy. We do not say, that in the progress of the discussion it may not be discovered ; but at present we discern it not. For ourselves, we dread, under existing circumstances, the first attempt at innovation in the spiritual part of our ecclesiastical fabric ; though if only such alterations were made as would ease the consciences of many religious persons, without going further, or sacrificing any thing of essential value, we should not object to it-far from it we should greatly rejoice at it. But amidst the conflictions of principle, even among good men, is this at the present moment practicable?
more horrified at the idea of living on a benefice of 300l. per annum, without the possibility of adding to it another, of which a curate is to do the work, than the curate perhaps would at the idea of a living of only onethird of the amount. Settle the matter with the five hundred, thousand, and two thousand pounds a year pluralists, and we shall bave no practical difficulty with the poorer clergy, who will be much better off than before. In our conversations with many excellent men who defend pluralities under the idea of necessity, we have found this tacit reference to a higher scale than is necessary vitiating all their calculations. We have heard of some prelates who have made it distinctly known in their dioceses, that they will never confer a second piece of preferment having cure of souls ; but have they upon that account found any difficulty in filling up their vacant incumbencies, and that with clergymen of very high order for piety, attainment, and efficiency? If then such a law were general, where would be the evil? It may be inconvenient in a single diocese, and in the hands of one official patron, while a contrary system prevails around, and there is no plan for adjusting a case of difficulty; but it would be very easy if the law and the practice were universal. The point therefore with which we would begin would be prospectively to forbid pluralities, and this would of itself reform all the worst abuses in the church : non-residence would fall with it, and the speedy augmentation of poor livings, in a variety of ways, would be a natural and necessary consequence.
But we must return to the interesting publication before us, from which we have wandered on one of the topics, but must restrict ourselves from doing so on the others, which indeed we have of late several times touched upon, and must before long bring again into discussion in still more serious detail.
The Bishop goes on to allude to the Beer Bill, which, in common with the great majority of the clergy and respectable portion of the laity, he regards as having been productive of most serious evils. It was but justice, and a proper attention to the public health and interest, to throw open the former monopoly in the sale of beer ; but to allow it to be drunk upon the premises, thus making the beer shop both a resort and a manufactory for profligates of every class, was quite another consideration. The chief argument for it was, that it was better men should sit in beer shops than resort to spirit shops ; and that it was unfair to the vendor of beer, to give the vendor of spirits a preference which would induce the people to go to his shop rather than to his neighbour's. As between beer and spirits, the argument was sound; but if the result has been, that many men now sit and tipple beer at the beer house, who before tippled neither beer nor spirits at the public house, the intended boon has been converted into a serious evil.
His Lordship speaks with much satisfaction of the Truck Act, which will have an extensive operation in his diocese; and also of Mr. Sadler's postponed Factory Bill; and we agree with his Lordship, that both these measures were desirable ; though, strictly speaking, they oppose a general principle upon which legislation should proceed, of not interfering between workman and master, leaving them to adjust their mutual interest, and only interposing, where necessary, to furnish civil protection to either party in case of violence, intimidation, or breach of contract by the other.
With regard to the truck system, the natural remedy for the master's paying his men in an unfair or unpopular manner, is, that the men will refuse to work on those conditions ; and if the evil is serious, the masters must, for their own sake, come to terms, as they cannot hold out eventually against the great body of operatives. Even if ninety-nine should do so, and shut up their manufactories, allow their capital to lie idle, and leave
the public demand for their articles unsupplied, the hundredth will seize the opportunity of stepping in and commanding the market, and all the rest in self-defence will be obliged to do the same; that is, provided the labourers' demand is not more than the market price of labour will bear; if it be, the master who yields to it will be ruined. In fact, neither master nor workman can, by mere contract, permanently raise or lower the price of labour : it depends not upon them ; it rises or falls according to a variety of circumstances; and all attempts to innovate upon it on either side, will, in the end, be useless.
In regard to the factory system, the principle of non-interference, as a general maxim, equally applies ; that is, supposing it to be an arrangement between the parents of the children and their employers : for the instincts of parental feeling are above all human laws; and if the parents think it best for their children to work so many hours for so much bread, the hand of the legislator is but a clumsy weapon for adjusting the balance ; and if they do not think it, upon the whole, best, they will not submit to it. They might, any day, refuse to let them work more than so many hours, but then necessity coerces them; and between over work on the one hand, and under-feeding approaching to starvation on the other, they are to make their unhappy choice. Hunger impels them to the former ; and they think they do better for their children by giving them bread with over-work, than starving them without it.
Besides all this, both in the truck and the factory question, it may be urged by the political economist, that in the end the parties legislated for will not be better off than before. For example, if the truck master currently give his men, in lieu of a shilling, what he calls a shilling's worth of bread or herrings, but which, in reality, is worth only ninepence, and the legislature say, that in future he shall give a shilling in money, it adds twenty-five per cent. to the men's wages, and deducts the same from the master's fund for labour, thus diminishing his profits ; and as those profits, in the long run,
in a manufacture open to competition, cannot be sustained above the market worth of capital, he must either become bankrupt or reduce the men's wages twenty-five per cent., and thus leave them exactly where they were under the truck system. If under that system, supposing it general, the body of masters did not give as much bread and herrings as their profits and the market price of labour allowed, it would answer to one of them to raise the quantity, whatever might be the value in money, with a view to send more articles to market, and more than make up the extra wages and lessened profit by larger sales. If the truck system was not general, but was confined to a few, the men would not willingly work with the masters who paid in truck, if they thought it to their disadvantage ; so that the money payers would have all the good hands, and the truck the bad, or perhaps none, and be thus soon obliged to offer better terms. It is a most clear and demonstrable truth, that if next year the iron trade should happen to be in every respect what it was two years ago, as to capital, demand, taxes, value of food, price of raw articles, number of hands in the business, and so forth, the workman with his money, under Mr. Littleton's humane act, will in 1832 be precisely where he was under the truck system of 1830. If he had then ninepenny worth of bread and herrings under the splendid name of a shilling, he will henceforth have an honest ninepence under its own more homely name, to buy exactly the same quantity of those articles at the village shop instead of his master's store ; nay, perhaps, will not get so good a bargain as before, his master's purchases being wholesale and at first cost. Legislate as we may, it is impossible to prevent this issue. The workman will say his wages have fallen; but the truth is, that they will have remained unchanged, only that