Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

advantage is, that it provides for the maintenance of religion out of the estates of the church, without burdening or taxing any human being. It is just to avoid the taxation of the members of one persuasion paying those of another, that it requires payment from the members of no persuasion at all, but provides for the clergy from the separate and independent estates of the church. It is true that in many cases, and in order to render the growth of ecclesiastical property commensurate with the increase of the population and the spiritual wants of the people, the separate estate of the church is vested in tithes; and this it is which gives rise to the delusion of supposing that the members of one persuasion are taxed to maintain the ministers of another. But even when this is the case, it is not the tithe-payer who maintains the church-it holds a separate estate jointly with the lay-owners of the lands which subsist on its share of the fruits of the soil. If he did not pay the tithes to the parson, he would be obliged to pay an additional rent to the landlord. He has two landlords instead of one; one for the stock and one for the tithe ; but the payment for the two together is not a shilling greater than it would be if one were extinguished.-Vol. ii. p. 249.

The value of the Church Establishment as a refuge and protection for the poor, and its immense superiority in this respect over the voluntary system, cannot perhaps be better expressed than in the following passage which Mr. Alison has extracted from a daily paper.

“ The Established Church is peculiarly the Church of the poor man. Was there ever a truth more undeniable than this, or one more pregnant with vast and awful consequences ? The parish church is open to the whole community. The humblest inhabitant of this wide realm, the most destitute pauper that knows not where else to seek a resting-place, enters therein with a spirit, humble indeed, as befits him, towards his Maker, but towards man, erect in conscious equality of brotherhood with the wealthiest and noblest of his fellow-creatures. Shut, then, the door of this house of God, by taking away the legalised subsistence of its ministers, and by refusing the fund that protects it from dilapidation-what follows? The rich and noble, the independent, the comfortable, the competent, the tradesman, the artisan in constant employment, all who have wherewith to feed and clothe their families, and to pay something towards the maintenance of a church, and the support of its minister-all such can by money obtain a right of admission, and can hear the word of God without impediment; but what becomes of him who has no money, who can contribute nothing, who has not bought his way into the list of the congregation? What does the voluntary principle do for him ? Let him try a meeting-house of political dissenters—let him try any place of worship raised, and its minister maintained, by subscription, or by money contribution under any form, and'see what will be the success of his application to the porter or functionary who keeps the gate. For the very poor who cannot afford to pay, there is no belp in the 'voluntary principle.' But in the Established Church, those who pay not a farthing are entitled, as their indefeasible birthright, to receive all which can be there supplied to the worn-down spirit and the broken heart—the solemn prayer--the inspired word - the holy sacrament--that peace and blessing which the world cannot give, but of which our charitable advocates for ' religious liberty' would, in their beneficence, despoil the children of affliction—the chosen ones of Christ! Yes, the Established Church of England is emphatically the · poor man's church,' and cursed be he who would destroy it. The Established Clergy are the poor man's ministers : they are bound to yield him, when called upon, and they do yield him, spiritual instruction and consolation, as ordained by the law under which he lives; and cursed again, we say, is he who would rob the poor man of this his inalienable possession here- this passport to his immortal inheritance in a better world.”_ Vol. ii. pp. 252—254.

The whole of the chapter from which the above extract is taken, we recommend to the careful perusal of the reader. It contains, besides, a variety of other arguments in support of a national church, which we have not at present space to enter upon, but which involve most important considerations.

(To be continued.)

LITERARY REPORT.

A Discourse of the Pastoral Care, by the Right Reverend Father in God,

Gilbert, late Lord Bishop of Sarum; reprinted from the Author's latest Edition, and now carefully revised; with Noles and References to the Fathers, by a Member of the University of Cambridge ; and a Prefatory Address, by the Rev. Thomas Dale, M. A. Vicar of St. Bride's, &c. &c. London: Washbourne. Cambridge: Stevenson. Dublin : Curry. 1840. Pp. Ixiii.

186. “ Burnet's Pastoral Care” is too well known to require commendatory notice. Nevertheless, the prefatory address to the present edition of it, invests the publication with a fresh interest and importance. The name of Mr. Dale would, of itself, be sufficient to command attention even to a work less eminent. It would, therefore, be injurious and disrespectful to suffer his remarks upon this Manual to pass without attention or regard.

The preface before us is, on the whole, somewhat melancholy and discouraging! Nearly one hundred and thirty years have passed since the appearance of the third edition of Burnet's volume; and it is saddening to find that many of the evils, then deplored by him, have remained without a remedy; and, that some of them have grown into fearful aggravation.

Foremost among the abuses which now deform the Church, are those connected with the right of patronage. And, in truth, nothing can well be more unseemly, or more disgusting, than the effrontery with which these abuses now meet the public eye. The advertisements, in which“ spiritual cures are hawked abroad as articles of merchandise,”-the recommendation of “light and easy duty,”—of “ pleasant society and good neighbourhood,"—of "the facility with which the dues are collected,"-of an “income arising wholly from land,”—of the “power of holding the benefice in plurality,"-of “excellent fishing, superb sporting, or a pack of hounds kept in the neighbourhood;"-all these are things which really seem to demand a discipline somewhat similar to that which purged the Temple of the traffickers and money-changers. They are enough to sicken the heart of any one who remembers that the christian ministry was ordained to prepare men for “the hour of death, and for the day of judgment." And yet, these are the things which perpetually stare one in the face, even in the pages of the Ecclesiastical Gazette!

As usual, however, the evil is much more manifest than the remedy. It is, we greatly fear, the natural growth of lay-patronage. In its origin, indeed, that sort of patronage was unexceptionable enough. When a land-owner endowed a church, for the use of his own family and tenantry, it was but reasonable that the appointment of the minister should rest with him, and with his heirs; subject, of course, to the judgment of the Bishop, with respect to the qualifications of the nominee. Neither could it well be objected to, that, in case the property should be sold, the advowson should go into the market with it, as a part of the estate. In process of time, however, the advowson came to be separated from the estate, to which it was at first appendant, and was frequently brought into the market as an estate by itself. And, at length, this practice was so far sanctioned by the law, that, except when the benefice was actually vacant, the traffic was exempt from the penalties of simony. And hence it is that, by a lamentable, but easy and natural process, this portion of the Church's patrimony has long been vilely debased and desecrated by the services of the puffer and the auctioneer.

The mischief has now become so inveterate as nearly to defy all legislative sagacity or honesty. And, indeed, it is not easy to see how the evil could originally have been altogether prevented. For, it must be recollected that, when estates are sold, they are not always sold in their entirety. They are, very frequently, cut up into lots. And, in such cases, what was to become of the advowson? It could hardly be divided among the purchasers of the lots. And to annex it to some one particular lot, would not have much mended the matter. The lot might be so small, as merely to be colourable and evasive; a sort of vehicle, contrived by legal artifice, for the sole purpose of carrying the advowson with it. How, then, could transactions of this nature be more effectually simplified, than by considering the advowson as a lot by itself? That this was, actually, the very process by which the traffic in question became gradually established, no one, indeed, can venture to pronounce. Our statement, however, may still be sufficient to show how impossible it must have been to keep this sort of property inseparable from the body of an estate. To enact this indissoluble connexion would, virtually, be to enact that no land owner should sell a part of an estate ; that he must sell the whole, or none.

From the sale of an advowson, to the sale of a single presentation, the transition could not have been difficult. For, if the owner of a fee-simple may dispose of a life-interest in it, why, it might be asked, should not the owner of an advowson do the same? When once you concede that the right of appointing to a benefice is a marketable thing, you almost inevitably invest it with all the legal attributes of other secular property; especially in a commercial country like this, where the rapid and easy transfer of all property is regarded, almost, as the vital circulation of national prosperity.

But, no matter how the result has been produced—it cannot be denied that a rank savour of simoniacal turpitude does, at this day, adhere to the benefice market. It is not questioned that, to dispose of a vacant benefice for money, is simony. Ard, if so, we cannot, for the life of us, understand how it can be otherwise than simoniacal to dispose of a benefice to become vacant, for a similar con-si-der-ation; though, perhaps, simoniacal in a somewhat inferior degree. It is thought profanely mercenary to put up the thing itself to sale. Why, then, should it be held blameless to put up to sale the reversion of that same thing? Consistency seems to require, either that both should be declared legal, or, that both should be prohibited. The present middle course does really look very much like a cunning device to cheat the father of lies! At present, too, the mischief is aggravated, to a shameful degree, by the language of the hawkers ; which is, often, neither more nor less, than a sort of unhallowed form of incantation, for transforming the ministers of the gospel into a race of country squires in sad-coloured clothes. Some specimens of their rhetoric have already been produced. But there is something worse behind !--something, the mention of which is prefaced by Mr. Dale with, perhaps, the somewhat tragic, but yet not unappropriate exclamation,—" Hast thou seen this, O son of man?" asked the mystic voice of the prophet Ezekiel : “turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these.Of which abominations, the most odious is the practice of announcing the infirmities, the advanced age, nay, the mortal sickness of the incumbent, as most important elements in the bargain! Who can wonder at the tone of indignant reprobation in which the editor stigmatizes this execrable violation of decency, humanity, and religion ?

Circumstances of sufficient notoriety, but into which, for obvious reasons, I forbear to enter, have made it but too palpable, that no dignity of rank, no sense of responsibility, no remembrance of parental example, will deter an unconscientious patron from the atrocity of this cold-blooded and calculating meanness; and however in such cases the letter of the law may remain inviolate, he must be a dexterous casuist indeed who can distinguish, to his own satisfaction, between the moral turpitude of putting up a living to sale while the Incumbent is supposed to be dying, or after he has actually expired! The fact is, that though the reproach is to the gospel, the offence is by the law. The expectation held out to the purchaser, that the benefice will shortly be open, is Simony by anticipation ; and if, on this ground, either the sale be accelerated, or the price enhanced, I see no way of evading the responsibility that is incurred, but a denial of the omniscience of God; or what would scarcely be less monstrous, an assumption that it is the law which makes the principle, when surely it is the principle which ought to make the law.- Prefatory Address, pp. x. xi.

But, then, ---the remedy for these abominations ?- Mr. Dale suggests the redemption of all rights of lay patronage by the state, and their transfer, in trust, to the several diocesans, under conditions derived from the practices and usages of the ancient church. The measure, he observes, would be well worthy of a christian legislature. Only, it unfortunately happens, that our most christian legislature has recently and solemnly legalized the sale of livings, by Act of Parliament; and this, by way of putting an end to the abuses of municipal patronage. So that the remedy proposed by Mr. Dale, we greatly fear, will not be much to the taste of our reformers. Even the opportunity it would afford of appointing another commission would hardly be a sufficient bribe for its adoption! Can nothing, then, be done, in the way of palliation ? On this point, Mr. Dale is not altogether without some glimmering of hope. We earnestly request the attention of our readers to his proposal :

If she says) it be in vain to expect any grand healing measure in times like these -if the national funds are to be preferably expended on prisons, penitentiaries, police, and penal colonies-if men will only serve their God of that which costs them nothing—at least it would be practicable, without the expenditure of a single shilling, materially to diininish an evil, which has been, and still is, fraught with incalculable mischief to the Church; and this, not by redeeming to the state the right of patronage, but by defining more strictly the terms on which it shall be exercised by individuals. However acquired, patronage is a trust; the state has a right to provide that it shall be properly discharged. Where would be the difficulty, or where the injustice of enacting that from and after a given date, no clerk shall be admissible for Institution to a Benefice who has not ministered as licensed Curate in some one diocese for the term of seven or at least five years? This would at least prevent young and inexperienced men from intruding themselves into the most onerous and responsible stations in the Church, and pretending to teach others while themselves neophytes or novices in the ministry, if not in the faith. “For if patrons ought to consider themselves under strict obligations in this matter, how much more ought they to lay the sense of the duties of their function to heart, who have by solemn vows dedicated themselves to the work of the ministry? What notion have they of running without being sent, who tread in those steps !-do not they say according to what was threatened as a curse on the posterity of Eli, “ Put me, I pray thee, into one of the priest's offices, that I may eat a piece of bread ?" Can they not trust God, that if by a motion of his Spirit, he calls them to holy orders, he will put it into the heart of some one or other to procure them a suitable post, without their own engaging in that sordid merchandise, or descending to any, though less scandalous methods, which bring with them such a prostitution of mind, that they who run into them cannot hope to raise to themselves the esteem due to the sacred function, which is the foundation of all the good they can do by their labours ?" (pp. 181, 182). Were such sentiments as universally adopted as they must be admitted to be appropriate and just, the good Bishop would have pointed out the remedy, which can only be found in that exalted view of the duties and responsibilities of the pastoral charge, which he so emphatically recommends. Meantime, the measure which we have proposed would be at least a palliative; and it would be still more so if the whole of the crown patronage were, as it ought to be, transferred to the several Diocesans in trust for the most deserving Curates in their dioceses, of more than seven years' standing ; a measure, which would be obviously useful, and I doubt not highly popular, and what with some would

. This principle has been recognised in the Ecclesiastical Duties and Revenues Bill, as applicable to the disposal of any capitular living, which shall devolve by lapses to the Bishop of the diocese. The Bishop “shall, within the next three calendar months, collate or license thercto a spiritual person, who shall have actually served within such diocese as Curate or Incumbent, for five years at the least." If this provision be necessary in the case of episcopal, is it not far more so in that of lay patronage? Is it too much for the Church to require, or for the legislature to grant ? be quite as much to the purpose, not without a precedent in our own history. Thus, leaving the statute of Simony as open to violations of its spirit and tenor as it now is, the traffic in livings would be greatly reduced; some, and those the most opulent, and often the least deserving of these spiritual speculators would be excluded by the condition of the previous service; others, and those the most efficient, would be content to await the reward of patient continuance in well doing; patrons, who really desire to have the parish church the seat of an effective ministry, would be better able to attain their end; and above all, the connexion between the Bishop and his Clergy would be strengthened and endeared, a consideration of peculiar importance, at a time when two important steps have been taken towards a real and effectual church reform--the abolition of episcopal translations; and the limitation...may it be at no distant day! ... the extinction, of pluralities. For until these blots and blemishes, which are no integral part of our system, but rather innovations on it, or deviations from it, be removed, we cannot expect, even by our sound doctrine and scriptural formularies, to convince the gainsayers or to reclaim the separatists. “ It is not our boasting," observes the Bishop, with that candour which forms the chief grace in his natural character,"it is not our boasting that the Church of England is the best reformed and the best constituted church in the world, that will signify much to convince others: we are too much parties to be believed in our own cause. There was a generation of men that cried The Temple of the Lord! The Temple of the Lord !' as loud as we can cry, 'The Church of England! The Church of England!' while yet by their sins they were pulling it down, and kindling the fire that consumed it. It will have a better grace to see others boast of our church, from what they observe in us, than for us to be crying it up with our words, while our deeds do deny it. Our enemies will make severe inferences from this, and our pretensions will be thought vain and impudent things, so long as our lives contradict them." (P. xlvii.)— Prefatory Address, pp. xii.—XV.

We should be cordially rejoiced to find that there is “virtue extant," enough to endure the moderate and salutary measure above proposed. But, alas! the skin of Mammon is as sensitive and tender, as his heart is tough. It must not be roughly handled. We doubt whether even this gentle manipulation will not prove too rough to be borne without a savage howl.

There are some other important matters adverted to by the editor, for which we must refer to the Preface itself. The whole is well worthy of the public attention. It is, evidently, the dictate of a heart devoted to the highest and most sacred interests of man.

Thoughts in Verse on Portions of the Gospel of St. John. By the Rev. J. K.

Craig, Minister of Burleyville, in the New Forest. London: Groombridge.

1840. Pp. 127. MR. Craig must be either a very friendless or a very wilful man, to have published such “ Thoughts," in such “verse" as this. Certainly, if he have but one friend in the world, that friend should have whispered to him that if there was “ a time to publish," there was clearly also a time “ to refrain from publishing." A more miserable tissue of drivelling ribaldry we never remember to have met with. Our readers shall have a specimen or two, to judge for themselves.

His thoughts upon that easy subject, the permission of evil, run in the following verses. The question, as far as we can understand it, is, why God does not turn all hearts to “faith, love, and contrition ?" The question and answer are thus set forth :

Why does he not? the answer is

Because he doesn't choose;
Or, brief, he doth to his,

Just as to Christ give or refuse.-P. 73. Rhyme, rhythm, reason, and reverence, how grossly are ye all violated in the small compass of this hoarse stanza!

Sometimes, too, the poet kindles into fire, but of a most fuliginous quality, truly; as where he is fighting against " consistency,(which he is pleased to

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »