« PrécédentContinuer »
the Standing Committee ought, in its corporate capacity, to undertake the unthankful office of recommending to the Society to prune away whatever requires removal, which individual members cannot perform without much sacrifice of feeling, and subject to the charge of indecorum and invidious selection. In the particular case which has called forth these remarks, the simplest course were, for the Right Reverend author himself to withdraw his tract, on the ground of its having been a production of his early years, which does not fully approve itself to his present larger views and more ripened judgment. Such a proceeding would be highly honourable to the feelings and candour of the individual; and it would relieve the Society from embarrassment, and become a precedent for a scrutinizing revision of the whole of the tracts; which no author could object to in his own case, after so truly dignified an example, especially as many other publications from episcopal pens are no longer upon the Society's list-among which we may name one by a venerable living prelate, Bishop Burgess.
It may seem paradoxical, after all we have said, to repeat what we set out with, that the improvement in the management and publications of the Society has of late been most rapid and encouraging. We, however, believe this as firmly as we believe that there is still ample room for accessions of excellence and it is because we wish good, and not evil, to the Society-its purification, not its extinction-its enlargement, its just popularity, and its increasing importance as an instrument of religious benefit to the land, that we have thus written *.
REVIEW OF PUBLICATIONS ON CHURCH REFORM.
ANOTHER Parliamentary year has closed, and yet not one step has been taken towards the reform of whatever needs amendment in the Church of England. Every hour's delay, besides the injury done to the souls of men by the continuance of abuses and the neglect of efficient means of improvement, is fraught with imminent danger to our Ecclesiastical Establishment. The members of his Majesty's government have been too busy with numerous other questions of great moment-and, among others, the affairs of the Church of Ireland-to apply their minds to the details of reform in the
We would respectfully recommend the Society to look into the commercial as well as the higher branches of its affairs. The Bishop of Bristol's tract is charged in the Society's list, to members, three-halfpence; but Messrs. Rivington charged us fourpence for our copy. A member of the Society, who casually purchased another copy at the Society's publishers, was charged the same; so that it was no mistake. A gentleman who ordered a dozen copies of another of the Society's tracts (marked in the list three-halfpence, members' price) at his own bookseller's, was charged six shillings, and was informed that Messrs. Rivington gave the price at sixpence per copy-three hundred per cent. above the Society's price. The Society either are ignorant of these things, or they have taken the utmost precaution, by a prohibitory charge, that no copies shall get abroad except to their own subscribers. They do not affix any price upon the cover of their books, as is customary-(by whose direction is it left out?)-so that there is no check to their bookseller's charging what he pleases for copies not ordered through the Society. To get books at members' prices, a member must procure a formal order, signed by the Secretary: so that where he wants only a small quantity, which he does not think worth getting an order for; or where he wants some books or tracts on an emergency, or in passing, and has not time to procure it; he is forced to pay the above inordinate charges, and the publisher pockets four-pence for every three-halfpenny worth of tracts. The whole system is out of joint. The Society ought to be its own depositary, and to manage its own concerns.
Church of England; and their only measure—namely, one for the commutation of tithes is now acknowledged by themselves to have been grounded upon incorrect principles, and is withdrawn. They have found, also, great difficulty with that portion of Conservatives, including individuals of high station in the Church-who, some of them in their puerile alarms, and others in obstinacy, party-spirit, or self-interest-wish to conserve evils and abuses as well as excellencies, and who are doing more certain injury to the Establishment than all the Dissenters and Radicals in the kingdom. We rejoice, indeed, to say, that our Church has many better-advised friends, including some of the most pious, esteemed, and judicious of our nobility, prelacy, clergy, and commonalty: but they cannot, or do not, act as a body; and they are thwarted or outvoted by their associates. The Church is plainly telling the world that it will not reform itself; the Cabinet virtually says that the internal opposition in the Church to reform is so strong that it has been hitherto afraid to encounter it, while so many other perplexing questions were in hand; the religious body in the Church, as well as the mere conservators of abuses, are suspicious of the measures of Government; the House of Lords opposes Church Reform; the House of Commons is divided upon it, and some of its members openly avow designs of spoliation and subversion; the anxious friends of true reform are disheartened; the public are becoming weary of procrastination; and many, who once asked for reform, now give up the Church as incorrigible, and talk of extinction. Thus stands our Church at present. We cherish strong hopes that she will ride out the storm: but our hopes are founded rather in faith and past experience than in immediate perception. We believe that she is a Scriptural Church, that she is under the protection of the Almighty, and that she still enjoys much of the public confidence and affection. We commit her to God, who is her helper; but we have no reason to expect His blessing if her members, and especially her rulers, are not honest to their trust, and do not endeavour, by His blessing, to render her justly "a praise in the earth."
In the mean time, while legislation delays its work, the press is not idle; and from the numerous plans of reform suggested, the good may eventually be sifted from the evil; and by the running to and fro of many, knowledge be increased. With this hope we renew our notices.
XIX.-Petition to the House of Lords for Ecclesiastical Improvements; by the Rev. C. N. Wodehouse, Prebendary of Norwich.
Mr. Wodehouse prefixes to his pamphlet a motto from Burnet, expressive of that Prelate's opinion that the liturgical alterations agreed to by a deputation of Bishops and Divines in 1689 would make the Church Service more perfect, as well as unexceptionable; that they would bring Dissenters to the Church; and ought to be adopted, if there were not a Dissenter in the land. Mr. Wodehouse thinks that a wiser measure could not be adopted by the clergy, than voluntarily to come forward to render the Church Service "more acceptable;" and that the present is a peculiarly favourable time for so doing. He objects to the condemnatory clauses in the Athanasian Creed, though not to the creed itself; to the absolution in the Office for Visiting the Sick, though not to a simply declarative absolution; and to the expressions in the Ordination Service, "Receive the Holy Ghost....... Whose sins soever thou dost forgive, they are forgiven ; and whose sins thou dost retain, they are retained;" which expressions he shews were not in the Greek or Latin formularies of Christian antiquity, not having crept in, he thinks, till about the twelfth century. These are the only three changes which he finds essential for his own peace of conscience in subscribing to the Liturgy and Articles; and none of these,
he says, press upon the laity. There are, however, he adds, a few things which he thinks would be an ease and a benefit, and promote spiritual religion and the edification of the people—such as a revision of the Church Lessons; the exclusion of the Apocrypha; various verbal alterations; a judicious abridgment of the Morning and Evening Services; rendering sponsors in Baptism optional, and omitting the litigated term, Regeneration; with a few alterations in others of the occasional services, especially in the strong expressions of hope in the Burial Service. Mr. Wodehouse also advocates a diminution of pluralities; the commutation of tithes for a cornrent; and the disuse of episcopal translations.
XX.-A Plan of Church Reform, with a Letter to the King; by Lord Henley.
Having announced and quoted from Lord Henley's pamphlet upon its first appearance, and it having since been extensively circulated, and its suggestions being well known to all church reformers, we need not advert to it at much length. His Lordship considers the non-residence of the beneficed clergy as the most grievous evil in the present system; it appearing by the last parliamentary return, that, out of 10,533 livings in England and Wales, there are only 4413 residents. More than 4000 livings are insufficient to maintain a minister; more than 4800 have no fit residence for one. Church room also is greatly wanted in various parts of the kingdom; and Lord Henley therefore laments that 300,000l. per annum should be devoted almost entirely to sinecures; the ostensible purpose being to keep up Divine service in about thirty cathedral and collegiate churches. chief object of his Lordship's plan is to make cathedral property assist parochial necessities. His Lordship does not dwell upon matters strictly theological; but he thinks, that, in reference to orthodox Protestant Dissenters, there ought to be "some healing and charitable measures of peace and comprehension in matters of discipline and church government; in rituals, and in points of doctrine not essential to salvation." Lord Henley is anxious for the re-assembling of the Convocation, with a larger representation of the great body of the clergy, with a view to consider of suitable plans of Church Reform. He wishes, also, a corporation to manage the cathedral revenues; sinecures being abolished, and the proceeds being vested in the corporation, for the purpose of augmenting small livings. He would also abolish pluralities, non-residence, and episcopal translations; adjust the episcopal revenues; and erect some new sees. XXI.-Safe and easy Steps towards an efficient Reform; one more efficient than that of Lord Henley; by a Clergyman of the Church of England. The writer of this pamphlet specifies as evils, non-residence, pluralities, the unequal division of the church revenues, and the want of efficient controul over the clergy; for each of which he considers there is a simple remedy, to which there are no valid objections. To prevent non-residence, he prescribes that residence shall be in all cases compulsory, and that an absence of nine months shall vacate a living. He would allow only a slight indulgence for occasional illness absolutely requiring a temporary change of residence. All permission to hold a second living (existing incumbencies being respected) he would repeal, and permit no exception to the rule. To adjust the church revenues more equitably, he would abolish the cathedral system, and appropriate the revenues to parochial uses; and also tax the more valuable benefices to eke out the poorer; and equalize the incomes of the sees, thus incidentally preventing translations. For the purposes of discipline among the Clergy, he would institute clerical courts analogous to courts-martial in the army; punishing gross offences with
deposition from the sacred office; and minor offences, including neglect of duty and unclerical conduct, with other retributions, the nature of which he does not specify.
The author of this pamphlet would have done more to secure a favourable attention to his wished-for reforms, if he had not adopted an unnecessarily harsh style, especially in speaking of Cathedrals and the Episcopal Bench. There is something far too sweeping in the character of his pamphlet; and we by no means concur in all his suggestions, or admire all his strong, and sometimes personal, statements; but they are evidently the result of honest zeal; and his main principles are those on which all adequate Church Reform must be founded. He thinks that there are a very few blemishes in the Prayer-Book; but he is in no haste to see reformers busy with them. He has no toleration for the argument, that riches, splendour, sinecures, pluralities, or cumulation, are necessary to the dignity of the Church of England; and he visits with no little severity this doctrine, and those who maintain it. The Cathedral system he holds in special abhorrence; and he calls its worship "vain and idolatrous." In this he outHenleys Lord Henley; and that Noblemen went no little way in expressing his dislike to a mode of worship which to us-so different are the feelings of different individuals-is among the highest delights and appliances of devotion. But our object in these brief notices is to state the various proposed plans of Church Reform, and not to comment on them: we therefore leave the subject to the consideration of our readers.
XXII. The Church of England and its Temporalities: a Sermon preached at the Parish Church of Alnwick, at the Anniversary of the Society of the Sons of the Clergy; by the Rev. John Sandford, Vicar of Chillingham, Northumberland.
Mr. Sandford shews the importance of an Established Christian ministry in a country, and the scriptural right of its members to be supported by the public; that," ministering about holy things," they should" live of the things of the temple." He remarks, that—
"It would be well that it were remembered that the maintenance of the clergy is not an act of grace, but a religious, and legal, and national obligation that their claim is equivalent with that of the landed proprietor, or of the legal or medical practitioner that it is both vested and professional, and that should political incendiarism ever compass its darling object, in the temporal ruin of the Church, it will do so by a bold profanation of legal rights-by a manifest violation of the federal system, which binds man to man." p. 13.
"Even if expediency alone be considered, it will be admitted that a suitable provision is essential, if we would secure a competent and well-educated body of men for the ministry: for, though merely spiritual motives will operate with many as a sufficient inducement to devote themselves to the cares and responsibility of holy orders, yet even for such men there must be something like a competence; while justice, as well as sound policy, would demand that superior industry and attainments should meet with a proportionate encouragement." p. 14.
"Besides, such a provision as will secure a man independence of mind and feeling, conduces much to the respectability and efficiency of the ministerial character. If it be important that the mind should not be over anxious about the things of to-morrow, it is also most important that the provision should be guaranteed in the manner most consistent with the independence of the recipient. Experience has abundantly proved that a contrary arrangement is good neither for the people nor for the minister-that it sometimes tempts the former to an arbitrary and unseemly interference with the pastoral office, and the latter to pay an undue deference to the opinions and prejudices of his flock." p. 15.
"Neither will it be denied that a sure and settled provision is one of the most efficient securities for that sobriety of sentiment so necessary in one who ministers about holy things. There is no greater temptation to eccentricity and extravagance than the necessity of being popular." p. 16.
Again, in a civil point of view, there cannot be conceived a better security for the preservation of order, and the furtherance of every good work, than the distribution through the country of a body of educated and decent individuals, without local pre
judice-those middle-men of society, whose station associates them with the highest grade of life, while their duties bring them into familiar and affectionate intercourse with the humblest." p. 17.
"As they now are, the resident parochial clergy of England have strong claims upon the esteem and affection of their country, they are amongst its best blessings: for while they are the means of conveying civility and education into the remotest districts, they are the guardians of the public peace, and the advocates for the observance of the laws, in places where, but for them, there would be no one to discourage vice, or to countenance virtue-to plead the poor man's cause, or to minister to his wants." p. 18.
We have thus, then, stated some of the pleas, upon which the clergy of the Church of England ground their claim for a settled and adequate support; and they are such as no unprejudiced persons will deny. These will further acknowledge that the spiritual prospects of the Church were never brighter; that her clergy are daily assuming a higher tone of moral and religious feeling; and that, if there be unhappily still amongst us some who are asleep upon their posts, there is also an increasing number of those who make full proof of their ministry, and whose preaching and conversation are as becometh the Gospel." p. 20.
From the writer of such remarks as the above, the friends of the Church can have no reason to suspect hostile feelings, or dangerous innovations. His sentiments, therefore, deserve the greater consideration in regard to what he considers a most just and necessary reform, and which shall be stated at large in his own words, without note or comment.
"How, then, it may be asked, does it happen that the temporal prospects of the Church are daily assuming a gloomier and more threatening character; that, from every side, there are resounding attacks upon her priesthood; and that her enemies are already triumphing in the anticipation of her downfall? To furnish a plausible answer to this question is not difficult, and it will probably be given according as it is the wish to stifle the enquiry, or to meet it in the spirit of Christian honesty and candour. It may be said, for instance, that the present clamour against the Church is only part of a revolutionary crusade against all existing institutions, resulting from a feverish wish of change, or a fiendish hostility to whatever has hitherto been had in honour. Or it may be said, that it is the fruit of an unnatural conspiracy of infidels, papists, and dissenters, against a church, of which they envy the ascendency, and covet the temporalities; and it may be alleged, as a proof of the infatuation of the last, that they should join in the assault upon an establishment to which their own system owes its solidity, if not its existence, and in the ruin of which it will surely be
"But granting that there is truth in both these statements, and that it is not difficult to show the injustice and folly of any sweeping attack upon our Protestant establishments; it is surely better for us, my reverend brethren, to search and examine ourselves, and see if there be not some ground for complaint-some abuse, which, while the consciousness of it weakens the hands of our best friends, furnishes our adversaries with a ready point of attack. To this, if an enlightened judgment does not guide us, the clamour of our opponents surely will; for what is the point against which the assault is at present addressed? It is not against the doctrinal orthodoxy of our Church, for of this many of our opponents are satisfied, while it is a subject about which others are philosophically indifferent; neither is it against the moral character of our clergy, for, except where it serves the purposes of party to traduce it, this is universally admitted: but, it is against our temporalities. And this is precisely the point on which it must be most painful to a delicate and conscientious minister of Christ to be put on the defensive. He can bear the contradiction of sinners against himself, because it was the trial to which his blessed Master was exposed;-he can bear the scoff of the infidel, or the sneer of the ungodly on the score of his personal holiness; he can even bear that his good name should suffer a temporary eclipse, for he knows that the Lord shall yet bring forth his righteousness as the light, and his judgment as the noon-day. But the suspicion of covetousness-the imputation of the love of filthy lucre-the base idea that for silver or gold he should hinder the Gospel: -there is something here from which the minister of Christ should revolt with horror. He should say, Perish the dross for ever, rather than that it should prove a stumbling-block, or cause one weak brother to offend! Yes! better perish the temporalities better that we should return, naked as we came out that we should stand up to-day in the land, in our pristine poverty, without purse or scrip—that we should suffer all things, than that we should hinder the Gospel of Christ.
"It was in this spirit that the Apostle spoke, Nevertheless, we have not used this power, but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the Gospel of Christ.' Paul magnified the power, he demonstrated his claim to temporal provision, as preacher of the Gospel,-proving that as one who waited at the altar, he had a right to be par