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ministry is all that the Church of England needs in the way of reform; but this we say, that without it all other reforms will prove defective. It is true that the Holy Spirit alone can give that essential preparation for the sacred office, the preparation of the heart, grounded on conversion to God and tender pity for the souls of men; but, among the means and instruments, a right course of clerical training is of the first importance.
XIV. "On the Office of Deacon: a Second Letter to the Bishop of Llandaff; by a Clergyman."
The writer of the pamphlet which we have just laid down has published a second, in which he follows up the clerical candidate from his preparatory training to his entrance upon the sacred office. He is now a deacon he enters, in most cases, upon the entire spiritual care of a parish; his very title for orders being a curacy, and in most cases under a nonresident incumbent.
"Now, I will venture to ask, is not this an anomaly? Is it not such an anomaly as has not its parallel in any other profession? The lawyer begins his career as junior counsel, another barrister having the entire management of the cause. The physician enters a town, where other physicians are established, and wins his way into practice by degrees. The ensign and midshipman never act independently, but are always in a situation which is felt to be not only subordinate, but subject to a present superior. The young clergyman alone is entrusted with a charge, in which he has neither coadjutor, rival, nor actual superintendant.
"And this is the more observable, when the language of our church in the ordination of deacons is considered. There the bishop declares authoritatively, in what the office of a deacon consists. The words are most remarkable. It appertaineth to the office of a deacon in the church, where he shall be appointed to serve, to assist the priest in Divine service, and specially, when he ministereth the holy Communion, and to help him in the distribution thereof, and to read holy Scriptures and Homilies in the church, and to instruct the youth in the catechism, in the absence of the priest to baptize infants, and to preach, if he be admitted thereto by the bishop.' How strongly this implies throughout the presence of a superior! who is there called (we shall find) the curate in an exclusive sense, to distinguish him in that capacity from the deacon: for the bishop proceeds—‹ And furthermore it is his office, where provision is so made, to search for the sick, poor, and impotent people of the parish, to intimate their estates, names, and places, where they dwell, unto the curate, that by his exhortation they may be relieved with the alms of the parishioners, or others.' Is it not clear then, that the original order of the Church is departed from, when the deacon himself is entrusted with the whole charge of the parish, and has no priest at hand to assist, consult, or inform by his report? Accordingly the Bible is not delivered to the deacon, but to the priest, who alone receives absolute and general authority to preach the word of God, and to minister the holy sacraments in the congregation, where he shall be lawfully appointed thereunto. In the same spirit, further on in the service, we find the deacons regarded, as in a state of probation; not as if by their admission to the first degree they were entitled to lay claim in due course to the second, but as being persons, who, having always the testimony of a good conscience, and continuing ever stable and strong in Christ, may so well behave themselves in this inferior office, that they be found worthy to be called unto the higher ministries in his Church.
"A deficiency of competent persons, to whom this sacred trust could be confided, or the scantiness of the provisions made for their support, may have rendered the present practice necessary in times that are past. But the former of these at least is a reason which cannot be pleaded now. On the contrary, the state of many of our overgrown parishes points out the necessity of restoring the office of deacon to its original integrity, and of confining it to its appropriate duties. The hands of the priest need there to be strengthened, and his mind to be set at leisure for the higher departments of his work, while the duty of superintending schools, visiting the sick, and dispensing the alms of the congregation, besides some of those secular duties, which the law now casts on the clergy, are offices, which not only belong more properly to the deacon, but are such as to enable him by a right discharge of them to purchase to himself, as St. Paul says, a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. With these, by the licence of the bishop, according to primitive example and our own ecclesiastical regulations, he might unite the privilege of preaching the word of God; which however at first he would only do occasionally, his time being much occupied by other objects; while yet, as subsidiary to the curate, or incumbent, he
might in his parochial visitations exercise a very important function, in explaining familiarly to the people the doctrines of the pulpit, and bringing down to the level of common life, and applying to the circumstances of the hearers, the general truths, which cannot there be so particularly exemplified. This also would improve both himself and them, and fit him by the best of training, that of practical experience, for addressing them systematically, when he should be advanced to a higher degree in the Church." pp. 6—9.
To remedy these inconveniences, and to secure these benefits, the author proposes that deacons should be ordained only as assistant curates, unless under peculiar circumstances; and that they should not be introduced at once into the full duties of their profession, with a single, and, as it seems to have become through the prevalence of custom, almost a formal exception. Among other advantages of the plan, the writer remarks, that a body of efficient auxiliaries would be spread over the land, whose services would be most valuable, by supplying a gap in our ecclesiastical provision for the spiritual wants of large and populous parishes, which is now felt most painfully. A body of deacons, he adds, to give effect to such institutions as that of the Metropolitan District-Visiting Society, would be not only a blessing in itself, but also a return to primitive discipline and order.
The judicious author anticipates two objections. The first is, that a deacon who is refused priest's orders has no retreat from a profession for which he is not qualified. In reply, he would allow the deacon to return to secular pursuits, if he so wished; which, he thinks, would be an advantage to the Church, by allowing a retreat for an unqualified or unworthy member. It was not till Horne Tooke's time that deacons were excluded even from Parliament.
The second anticipated objection is, that there would not be found funds sufficient to remunerate a number of assistant curates, especially in those parishes where there is much work and little income. He proposes to diminish this objection by appropriating fees and Easter offerings to the assistant curates; but even though some difficulty should remain, he does not consider that it should be allowed to set aside the benefits of his proposed arrangement. Should the system of pluralities be abolished, as we trust will speedily be the case, the author's suggestion will deserve still further consideration, since it has been objected, though very incorrectly, that the abolition of pluralities would cause a deficiency of openings for curates, and of titles for orders: for which supposed defect our author's plan would be a counterpoise.
"A Model of Non-secular Episcopacy; including Reasons for the Establishment of Ninety-four Bishopricks in England and Wales; by the Rev. Thomas Sims."
Mr. Sims is no parsimonious reformer: and while his Majesty's ministers are curtailing the Irish episcopacy by one-half of its numbers, he is for nearly quadrupling the number of those in England. His plan, and the reasons for it, are as follow:
"In the early progress of Christianity, Bishops were established in different cities. As in the seven churches of Proconsular Asia, Ephesus, Smyrna, &c. so in Britain also, York, London, Colchester, Caerleon, &c. were episcopal sees. The episcopal see did not constitute a place a city; but cities in which magistrates presided were selected to be sees; and from each of these central spots religion was diffused amongst the pagans, or villagers of the surrounding district. Christianity had been alloyed by much superstition, when the missionaries sent by Gregory came to instruct the AngloSaxons. In the year 668, Theodore brought a new title to England-that of Archbishop. William the Conqueror made bishops Barons of the realm. As barons they became politicians, and consigned the chief part of their duty as bishops to archdeacons, officials, vicars-general, &c. The corruptions and abuses of the Church were multiplied; the whole body was covered with putrefying sores. Lollards in England, like the Waldenses and Albigenses on the continent, entered their protests against
reigning abominations. The dawn of a reform of the National Church at length appeared. Henry VIII. persecutes the Reformers, yet dissolves the connexion of England with Rome. His son Edward becomes a genuine Reformer. Cranmer, Ridley, Bucer, and others, assist in promoting the Reformation. Before it could be completed according to the designed model, England is deprived of her monarch by early death, and of her best bishops, under his sanguinary sister, by martyrdom. Elizabeth restores Protestantism; but the English Church in her reign was stamped with a character of secularity which has never been effaced. The time has at length come when it must be effaced;-that infidels may not finally succeed in overthrowing the Church of England through the medium of long-patronised abuses; that religious Dissenters may not deem it right to subvert it on the same ground; and that the members of that Church may stand up in its defence with the more zeal and courage, as those who are not the advocates of errors or corruptions, but the friends of piety, of order, of truth, of morals, of loyalty, and of civil as well as religious freedom. The great preliminary step to a second reformation of the Church of England, is the reformation of her Episcopacy; an institution not originally designed for the aggrandiz ment of a few, but for the benefit of many; and the many who require its advantages are the many millions which England and Wales now contain beyond the few millions of former ages. The want of more bishopricks was felt about three hundred years ago, at the Reformation. Several were constituted by 26 Henry VIII. c. 14. Some of them still continue. The population was then small. Even as late as the year 1700, the population was only 5,475,000; but in 1831 it amounted to 13,889,675. The evils interwoven with the present system of Episcopacy being removed-as far as possible without delay, and where delay may be almost unavoidable, by honest prospective measures, the reformation of the Church of England, under other aspects, as pluralities, alterations in the Liturgy, &c. may be effectually prosecuted; whilst Episcopacy, unreformed, will furnish a pretext and precedent for abuses in other departments of the Established Church; and, by thus presenting an obstacle and barrier to improvement, not only embarrass ministers of state, but, perhaps, ultimately involve the Episcopal order, the House of Peers, and even the Throne, in perils unexampled since the period of the Commonwealth.
In the following pages a plan is submitted, by the adoption of which, it is believed, those perils may be averted. A model of Episcopacy is proposed, in defence of which reference can be confidently made to Scripture, and to the practice of the primitive church. The good sense of the British public may be at the same time appealed to, to determine, whether it is not adapted to meet the actual wants of the people, as well as to consolidate and preserve the fabric of the Established Church in all its most valuable constituent parts. Whatever it is here proposed to abolish, is neither essential to Episcopacy, nor even consistent with its primitive and purest form; but, on the contrary, foreign to its nature, superfluous, and injurious.
"After these introductory remarks it may be briefly added, that the following are the principal changes involved in the proposed system.
"1. That at the decease of each of the present Prelates, the baronial rank attached to the see be extinct, and his successor be a bishop only, not a peer.
"2. That at the decease of each of the present Archbishops, the archi-episcopal dignity be abolished, and their successors be bishops.
"3. That the nomination of bishops by the Crown, or, as now practised, by the prime minister of state, be resigned; and that the election of bishops be vested, not in the Dean and Chapter, but in the clerical and lay members of a Diocesan Synod; and that the disposal of the patronage now vested in the bishops be with the concur rence of this synod.
"4. That the Bishop of each diocese, with the concurrence of the synod, be permitted to appoint some of his clergy Suffragan-Bishops, who, without neglecting their own parishes, may relieve him occasionally by discharging, by his express commission, certain duties now incumbent upon bishops themselves, or chancellors, and archdeacons." pp. 4-6.
We cannot go through the details of the proposed ninety-four sees; but we will afford our readers a few specimens. In the province of Canterbury, the author's first proposal is to abolish the archiepiscopal dignity (at the present Archbishop's decease), and constitute a new episcopal see in Kent, on the ground that Canterbury is not, as formerly, a royal city; that the Archbishop's prerogative of granting dispensations (conferred on Pope Innocent by the Fourth Council of Lateran, and transferred to the Archbishop by Henry VIII.) has been a source of corruptions and abuses; and that the increase of population requires the creation of a new seg, CHRIST. OBSERV, No. 378.
and resident bishops. In 1700 the population of Kent was 153,800; in 1831, 478,400. The proposed new see would be Maidstone.
Mr. Sims would divide the diocese of London, which contains more than a million and a half of souls, into four-namely, Westminster; the City of London; the Tower Hamlets; and a fourth, to include Paddington, Mary-le-bone, St. Pancras, and Hampstead. He would divide the diocese of Lichfield and Coventry into nine-namely, Derby, Chesterfield, Lichfield, Stafford, Newcastle-under-Line, Wolverhampton, Coventry, Warwick, and Birmingham. Chester he would divide into eight; and so of others
Mr. Sims, it will readily be conceived, could not afford that his ninetyfour bishopricks should be endowed after the present model of English sees he therefore proposes as follows:
"Upon the subject of the proper income for each archbishop and bishop, as a baron of the realm, no opinion is here offered. It has occupied other minds and pens. A comparison with the salaries of judges is sometimes instituted. One important principle appears to be, that a bishop's income should be derived from such a source as shall afford no countenance to pluralities with cure. To the successors of the present bishops, not being peers, it is suggested that 1500l. a-year may be a suitable stipend, to be paid in advance, the 500/. being especially designed to meet the expenses of a carriage and travelling, and for the exercise of charity and hospitality. The difference of society, however, and higher prices, in the metropolis, may render 20007. or 25007. suitable for bishops of London, Westminster, Lambeth, &c. On this principle, the present income of the twenty-six prelates will be more than sufficient for ninety-four bishops resident in their dioceses, stars' shining in their proper orbits. The circumstances of the present age render it desirable that bishops should be resident voluntarily most of their time; waiving, in great part if not wholly, the baronial privilege of engaging in the sphere of general politics." Appendix, p. 21.
The author does not, however, consider ninety-four bishops sufficient; but proposes that they should enjoy the aid of suffragans.
"If ninety-four diocesan bishops obtain, with the approbation of the synod, two or three suffragans, incumbents of parishes, and assisting as bishops without being paid more than travelling expenses by their diocesan, the Church of England will have the benefit of the service of between three and four hundred bishops amongst her 10,000 parishes, and the thirteen or fourteen millions of the population. Such a measure, however great and extensive, may be adopted without difficulty or delay; and perhaps at a future time as many as two hundred and sixty instead of twenty-six bishops (not suffragans), may be established over more circumscribed and therefore more manageable dioceses, annexed to as many principal towns throughout the kingdom." p. 22.
Mr. Sims further proposes a new arrangement of ecclesiastical assemblies-namely:
"1. A monthly church session (oftener upon notice in cases of emergency), composed of the clergy of the parish, synodsman, and churchwardens and overseers of the present year, as well as those who have served in office before; the incumbent presiding.
"2. Conferences, composed of patrons, presbyters, synodsmen, churchwardens and overseers, once in six months, at a borough; a suffragan bishop, if present, presiding.
"3. An annual diocesan synod, composed of the bishop as president, suffragans, patrons, presbyters, synodsmen, and one churchwarden and one overseer from each parish. A condensed report of the pecuniary as well as all other transactions at this synod, would, it is hoped, be published.
"4. A general synod every alternate year at Westminster (sitting for not more than one week), composed of peers of the realm, being patrons one of whom, the Lord Chancellor, to preside as the King's representative-diocesan bishops, and one presbyter and one synodsman, elected by each diocesan synod. In such ecclesiastical assemblies, the wisdom and moral power of the Established Church may, it is apprehended, be concentrated; its chief imperfections removed; its funds appropriated on equitable principles; the interests of all classes of the clergy and laity consulted; and, it is hoped, such enlarged Christian charity would be evinced, that whilst the prime attention may be devoted to the affairs of the Church of
England, the respect and esteem of other Christian churches will be also obtained." p. 24.
Without saying that some of the above arrangements might not be abstractedly excellent, and fit to be carefully weighed, if we were founding a new church or wholly re-modelling our own, it is very certain that they are so little likely at present to come under serious consideration—and at all events there are matters so much more pressing-that we may safely postpone the adjustment of them to a more leisure hour. In the general principle, that several of our larger dioceses require to be divided, we fully concur; and we also think that a better adjustment of the episcopal revenues is highly desirable; but Mr. Sims has certainly startled us with the magnitude and novelty of his plan, which has evidently cost him much labour: his ecclesiastical statistics, however, are valuable for reference, and may be consulted with advantage, should any plan be brought forward for dividing any of the larger dioceses.
We presume that by this time our readers have before them as many projects of Church Reform as they can well digest in one month we therefore lay down our pen and our bundle of pamphlets for the present, purposing to resume our notices in another number. There is one thought, which has pressed upon us strongly in reading these publications, That our Church, with all her real or alleged faults, is well worth reforming; that the blessing of God has rested upon her, and may be expected, through His mercy, to rest upon her more when she shall be purified from her abuses.
(To be continued.)
VIEW OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS.
THE proceedings in Parliament during the last month have embraced many very important questions; to a few of which we shall advert.
Sir Andrew Agnew was unfairly forced to bring on the second reading of his Bill for the BETTER OBSERVANCE OF THE CHRISTIAN SABBATH at a late hour of the night, and under many disadvantages; and we lament to say that for the present it has failed. Its very failure, however, has been attended with circumstances full of hope, and which call for special gratitude to God. Far from feeling despondent in regard to this great question, we have never before cherished so sanguine an expectation that some considerable legislative measure for preventing the violation of the Lord's-day must and will before long be carried into effect. When we consider the overwhelming number of petitions which have been sent in to Parliament, all praying for the better protection of the Lord's-day, and not a few of them for all the leading details of Sir Andrew Agnew's large and comprehensive Bill; when we reflect how widely public attention throughout the land has been called to the subject, and how anxious are all the religious classes of the community for an amelioration conducted on Scriptural principles; while not a few of those
who take a less elevated standard yet wish for protection against Sunday trading;
when we witness the powerful impression made by the petitions and urgent representations of Christian electors throughout the land upon large numbers of the members of the House of Commons; when we hear, not only of numerous sermons being preached upon the subject by the clergy, but of the laity in numerous cases combining among themselves to effect the desired object in their respective neighbourhoods, so far as it can be achieved without legislative enactments, the necessity of which their efforts lead them increasingly to feel;-when we observe the moral influence which the very discussion of the subject has already produced; so much so, that Lord Althorp has stated that a man can hardly now travel on the Sunday without feeling that he is doing wrong;-when we read the sentiments which have been uttered on the subject in both Houses of Parliament during the present session, many of which are such as we could not have ventured a few months since to hope for ;-when we peruse the speeches on the night of the second reading, in which we find both the members for Oxford, both the members for the university of Dublin, and various other members, including Mr. Plumptrec,