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by them touncil will probablyn. We are sure of Lichfield. I
It would not
nation, and representatives worthlation.
liament, and out of these form a Council. Assisted by this Council, he will learn the public feeling, and he will be directed by them to measures which the public sentiment demands. Such a Council will probably present to the Diocese an adequate scheme of representation. We are sure that that scheme would differ widely from the sham scheme of Lichfield. It would secure a proper election of laity, free from clerical manipulation. It would secure a due proportion to the laity, and place them according to their population. It would produce a house of lay representatives worthy of a Church, which is of the nation, and which can only stand through the cooperation of the nation. Sacerdotal government, Episcopal autocracy, will not serve. Bishop Selwyn's effort to rule three great counties by a single will must prove a failure. We do not say that it may not be carried out in a certain form : but it will end in disaster. When the attack comes, the people will leave the clergy to meet it—they will refuse to assist a Church in which they have neither part nor place.
All such Synods or Diocesan Conferences, therefore, fail to answer the purpose sought. They will not strengthen the Church : they alienate the laity, they isolate the clergy; and after bitter disputes, they lead to a wider separation.
How then is union to be effected ? Let us begin with the unit of a parish. The object, in the parish, is to attract the laity to take an interest in the Church as their Church. There is, we believe, but one way. Let the whole of the parishioners be called together-all at least who desire to be reckoned members of the Church of England. This, we are glad to see, is Mr. S. Estcourt's plan. The Sacerdotalists want to restrict election to communicants ; but this is suicide. The object is to widen, not to narrow, the circle,– to draw to Church work and Church ways men who now are indifferent.
The necessity for Church-rates supplies a test. Are you willing, by some contribution, to support the Church and its services ? You are ;—then your name shall be on the Register, and you have a right to be summoned to be heard, and to vote on all matters touching it.
But the parishioners cannot attend always, nor often ; business and labour forbid it. Then choose men to represent youmen whom you know and trust. The choice will, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, fall on the best men.
As to their number, that is less material. It should vary with the size of the parish and the population—5—7—9—or more ; as far as possible it should represent all classes, the gentry, tradesman, and workman. This is the Parish Council of which the clergyman should be chairman. Define their duties :
(1.) Let them fix their time of meeting.
(3.) Support and superintend the school-choose and direct the teachers.
(4.) Guard our Church. No change in the order of its worship or its outward symbols, from that which was fixed at the Reformation, and is now prescribed by law. No change without the unanimous assent of the whole Council. Here one veto shonld suffice, for the presumption is against change, and one independent mind may represent the consciences and convictions of a large class.
That such a system would work well wherever the clergyman is wise, we know by experience. That it would stop the vagaries of sacerdotalism, is plain. By this simple process, our greatest difficulties would cease; and those priests, who belong to Rome, would go to Rome.
Having once obtained the parish unit, the other parts of the plan follow. Do you want a Council for the diocese, representing fairly the mind of the county? Every parish council will return representatives, two for the laity, and one clergyman; and these representatives assembled will form the organic bodies which are to conduct the affairs of the diocese.
We think it right that, in every settlement of representation, regard should be had to the population of the place. It would be unfair to give to a parish of 100 the same weight that you give to one of 20,000 or 30,000. It is right, also, that the lay representatives should be twice the number of the clergy, as has been decided in Ireland. This is necessary in order to place the two bodies on an equality ; for the occupations and claims of the laity necessarily prevent frequent attendance.
We say nothing of voting by orders, except this—that for a single man to attempt to arrogate to himself powers equal to the clergy and laity of his diocese, is intolerable; and for him to veto at his pleasure a decision at which the clergy and laity may have arrived, is a Constitution sure to fail. In place of strengthening the Bishop's hands, it rouses against him jealousy and envy, and will end in leaving him helpless.
To all schemes now on foot, which are sacerdotal, we offer this concluding remark: they are contrary to the spirit of our age, and to the independent temper of the English people. They will fail, and, more than that, they ought to fail. The English laity will not labour for a Church which does not provide substantial guarantees for their rights and liberties. Of this the bishops and clergy may be assured — all sacerdotal projects, lacquered over by a thin cover of lay element, will be detected and resented. Better, a thousand fold, come at once to what they must come to soon, a frank representation of the lay members of the Church, in their due proportion and with full powers. Widen the basis, and you may yet uphold the fabric. There is no other way.
But while we contend for a popular constitution of Church Councils, we concur with those who consider the mode of election of the rulers of the Church liable to grave objection.
There is an historical precedent, and a precedent never to be forgotten. William the Third, often abroad, absorbed in foreign affairs, committed the government, in his absence, to his Queen; and he gave her, for the selection of bishops, a council composed of the most eminent men in the realm. We suggest that a council should be named by the act of both Houses of Parliament, and that this (not one individual) should present to the Crown the name of the Bishop to be elected. We should then have none of those scandals which have lately shocked the public.
There are other topics which, in a complete scheme of Church reform, inust engage attention : a large increase of bishops, the lowering of their incomes, the removal of most of them from their place in the House of Lords. Confined to a limited sphere, endowed with a limited income, the bishops will become what they ought to be the friends of their clergy, and the fathers of their dioceses.*
Reform in our cathedrals is, we hope, imminent. It was long since suggested and pressed on the then Premier, Lord Russell. Turn the dean into a bishop, the cathedral his episcopal church, the deanery his residence. You thus utilize a place, a post, and an income, you divide the diocese. Archdeacons may then receive adequate incomes; and, if that be desirable, rural deans. The defence of canonries is idle. They are not the rewards of learning or of service. They have been, and they always will be, jobbed by Ecclesiastics or by Ministers of the Crown. The only remedy is to extinguish them, and to annex their incomes to useful offices.
One topic more, on which we may not dwell,--but it is essential. Church patronage must be checked by the veto of the parish council. The anomalies of unrestricted patronage are indefensible. If we were not accustomed to them, no man would argue for them. When we see a bishop or lay patron sending a careless drone into a parish where a faithful man has worked for years,—where a pastor loved and honoured is succeeded by a priestly formalist, - where the gentle and winning voice of persuasion is followed by the hard dogmas of priestcraft and the follies of Ritualism,—these things tear up the heartstrings of a people, and turn them against their Church. These things cannot stand, if our Church remains.
But our space is exhausted, and, we doubt not, the reader's patience ; yet the subject is only touched in its outlines.
* The extent to which the subdivisions of Bishoprics can be safely carried is left as an open question,
cessit, priests, abjected, notwiths
THE CHURCH AND THE FRENCH REVOLUTION.*
(Continued from p. 866.) In the last Number of the Christian Observer we traced the fortunes of the Gallican Church from the outbreak of the Revolution in 1789 to the period of her greatest depression. It now remains to notice her gradual resuscitation and restoration to something of her former condition—a restoration which in. volved, among other things, the renewal of her old political status, and, unhappily for herself, of her Papal connection.
The coup-d'état of the 18th Brumaire (9th November 1799), by which the government of France passed into the hands of Bonaparte, put a final termination to all legal repression of Christianity in France. Since the close of the Reign of Terror, the Christian religion, notwithstanding the restraints to which it was still subjected, notwithstanding the transportation of many priests, constitutional as well as non-juring, and the necessity of sharing the places of worship with the professors of theophilanthropism, that last contemptible form of religion to which the Revolution gave birth, had recovered strength day by day. The Constitutional Church, being under less severe legal enactments than that of the non-jurors, showed the greater signs of vitality. As early as the month of August 1797, a Council of this Church was held at Paris, at which fifty bishops were present. The character of the constitutional clergy and Church cannot be better estimated than by a reference to the measures adopted by this Council. For a sketch of those measures, we will refer to M. de Pressensé's own words, as rendered by his translator :
“ The first act of the Council was to make a solemn profession of the Catholic faith, then to write to the Pope to entreat him to hasten the work of pacification in the Church of France. A letter was at the same time sent to the non-jurors, to beg of them, with not less solicitation, to lend themselves to a union so desirable for religion. The Council gave proof of the large-heartedness which animated it in the decree of pacification which it passed. Without renouncing the essential principles of the Church which it represented, it declared that all the pastors and priests who had remained faithful to their vocation, were called, without distinction, to the exercise of the ministry, whatever might have been their opinion on the ques
* 1. L'Eglise et la Révolution Française : Histoire des Relations de l'Eglise et de l'Etat de 1789 à 1802. Par Edmond de Pressensé. Paris, 1864.
2. The Church and the French Revolution: A History of the Relations of Church and State from 1789 to 1802. By E. de Pressensé, D.D. Translated from the French by John Stroyan. London: Hodder and Stoughton. 1869. Vul. 63.-No. 384.
tions which had divided the Church of France. The decree contained the following clause, which pushed concession as far as it was possible :-If there is only a single bishop for one and the same diocese, or a single priest for one and the same parish, he shall be acknowledged by all. If a Church has two bishops, the one appointed and ordained before 1791, the other chosen and ordained since that period, the more ancient shall be acknowledged; the other shall succeed him with full right; this arrangement applies also to the parish priests. Thus the constitutional clergy showed their readiness to sacrifice themselves to pacification, for this clause rejected from the sees and cures the majority of their members. The Council was occupied with regulating the nomination to the vacant sees, and the order of the religious services in which it wished to introduce the vulgar tongue for the prayers of or, at the sermon (pour les prières du prône). It passed a decree, imbued with the strictest morality, on the reform of the manners of the faithful and ecclesiastics; the love of country and obedience to the laws were strongly recommended. It passed also a special decree on the instruction and education of children, and urged the founding of numerous Christian schools. In fine, an express request was made to the Holy Father to convoke an Ecumenical Council, which should decide the grave questions that were pending."
After the establishment of the Consulate, the prospects of religion began even more perceptibly to brighten, and in June 1801 a second Council of the Constitutional Church was held; but after sitting for little more than six weeks, it dissolved itself upon receiving information of the signing of the Concordat.
In reviewing the revolutionary period for the Church in France, which was brought to a close by the event which we have last mentioned, we cannot but be struck with the immense benefit which, humanly speaking, was conferred on the cause of religion by the existence of the Constitutional Church. It appears to us quite a mistake to suppose that the disastrous conflict between religion and the civil administration, which disfigured the period of the Revolution in France, was in any but the most trifling degree due to the decree for the civil constitution of the clergy. Had that measure never been passed, had the confiscation of the property of the Church taken place without any counterbalancing provision for the maintenance of the clergy by the State, and had the Revolutionary Government abjured all nominal connection with the Church from the moment when it ceased to consult the interests or respect the principles of Christianity, the opposition of the clergy to the new régime would have been not less decided, and the hostility of the rulers of Revolutionary France to religion would have become not less bitter. That the opposition of the clergy to the Revolution was not unanimous, and that there was a phase