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first, second, and third time ; and sent down to the Commons. The preamble of it was,
• that it was known what slothful and ungodly life had been led by those who were called religious. But that these houses might be converted to better uses; that God's word might be better set forth; children brought up in learning ; clerks nourished in the universities ; and that old decayed servants might have livings; poor people might have almshouses to maintain them ; readers of Greek, Hebrew, and Latin, might have good stipends ; daily alms might be administered, and allowance might be made for mending of the highways, and exhibitions for ministers of the Church ; for these ends, if the king thought fit to have more bishopricks or cathedral churches erected out of the rents of these houses, full power was given him to erect and found them, and to make rules and statutes for them, and such translations of sees, or divisions of them, as he thought fit. In the same paper, there is a list of the sees which he intended to found; of which what was done afterwards came so far short, that I know nothing to which it can be so reasonably imputed, as the declining of Cranmer's interest at court, who had proposed the erecting the new cathedrals and sees, with other things mentioned in the preamble of the statute, as a great mean of reforming the Church ?."
Some of the proposed additional dioceses are then enumerated; Essex, Hertford, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire, Oxford and Berkshire, Northampton and Huntingdon, Middlesex, Leicester and Rutland, Gloucestershire, Lancashire, Suffolk, Stafford and Salop, Nottingham and Derby, Cornwall. As to the means by which they were to be endowed, no opinion is here expressed on its lawfulness, as the present sketch is confined to the consideration of the spiritual part of the ecclesiastical system. It is scarcely necessary to add, that Cranmer's views were partly realised, in the subsequent creation of the dioceses of Chester, Bristol, Glocester, Oxford, and Peterborough.
The same prelate, whose episcopate has had so important an influence upon the constitution of our Church ever since, also projected with great wisdom, a system of suffragan bishops or
I Burnet, Hist. Reform. ii.
Chorepiscopi, which he was able to bring into effect, and which lasted till the reign of King James. Twenty-six such bishops were appointed; the bishop of the diocese having the power of presenting two persons to the king, who might choose either of them, and present him to the archbishop of the province for consecration. These suffragans exercised such jurisdiction as their principal gave them, or as had formerly been committed to suffragans; their authority lasting no longer than he continued their commission to them. “ These were believed,” says Burnet', “ to be the same with the Chorepiscopi in the primitive church; which, as they were begun before the first council of Nice, so they continued in the Western Church till the 9th century, and then a decretal of Damasus being forged, that condemned them, they were put down every where by degrees, and now revived in England. The suffragan sees were as follows; Thetford, Ipswich, Colchester, Dover, Guilford, Southampton, Taunton, Shaftsbury, Molton, Marlborough, Bedford, Leicester, Gloucester, Shrewsbury, Bristol, Penrith, Bridgwater, Nottingham, Granthạm, Hull, Huntingdon, Cambridge, Pereth, Berwick, St. Germain's, and the Isle of Wight."
After the disuse of suffragans in the reign of James I. there was a fresh project for establishing them on the Restoration. Charles, in one of his declarations, promises to increase the number of bishops, in accordance with Archbishop Usher's plan for episcopal government. However, his intention was not put into execution, doubtless owing to existing circumstances, which reasonably interfered with it.
The following extract is made from Bingham, Antiqu. ix. 8. “One great objection against the present diocesan episcopacy, and that which to many may look the most plausible, is drawn from the vast extent and greatness of most of the northern dioceses of the world, which makes it so extremely difficult for one man to discharge all the offices of the episcopal function...... The Church England has usually followed the larger model, and had very great and extensive dioceses ; for at first she had but seven bishopricks in the whole nation, and those commensurate in a manner to the seven Saxon kingdoms. Since that time she has thought it a point of wisdom to contract her dioceses, and multiply them into above 20; and if she should think fit to add 40 or 100 more, she would not be without precedent in the practice of the Primitive Church. ... In Ireland, there are not now above half the number of dioceses that there were before, and consequently they must needs be larger by uniting them together. In England, there are more in number than formerly, some new ones being created out of old ones, and at present, the whole number augmented to three times as many as they were for some ages after the first conversion. Besides that, we have another way of contracting dioceses in effect here in England appointed by law, which law was never yet repealed; which is by devolving part of the bishop's care upon the Chorepiscopi, or suffragan bishops, as the law calls them :-a method commonly practised in the ancient Church in such large dioceses as those of St. Basil and Theodoret, one of which had no less than fifty Chorepiscopi under him, if Nazianzen rightly informs us. And it is a practice, which was continued here all the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and even to the end of King James ; and is what may be revived again, whenever any bishop thinks his diocese too large, or his burden too great to be sustained by himself alone.”
1 Hist, Reform. ii.
To the above statements, may be subjoined the present number of souls, and the area of square miles, in certain of our dioceses, as given in a pamphlet lately published, which has come into the writer's hands since the foregoing was put on paper. (Vide Plan for a New Arrangement, &c. by Lord Henley.)
By this table, it is not here intended to insinuate the necessity of any immediate measure of multiplying the English sees or appointing suffragans, (the expediency of which is to be determined by a variety of considerations, which it were unprofitable here to de
tail,) but to show that the genius of our ecclesiastical system tends towards such an increase, and that it is but a question of time which has to be determined. These statements are also made with a view of keeping up in the minds of churchmen a recollection of the injury, which the Irish branch of our Church has lately sustained in the diminution of its sees.
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