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ranks of the English priesthood not a few men, the laborious charity and self-denying holiness of whose lives would have done honour to the brightest times of the Church's history. If any such were to be advanced to the Episcopate, it is scarcely possible to over-estimate the blessings which would ensue from their appointment. But the very heroism of their character, so unintelligible to worldly minds, creates an impassable barrier, as they well know, to their promotion under the present system.
"Mr. Noel proceeds to make some observations on the ensnaring influences of their new positions on men thus advanced to the prelacy. Would to God, my Lord, that we could believe him to be guilty even of exaggeration on this point! I spare myself the pain of dwelling on this most humiliating matter; but I cannot too strongly express my concurrence with Mr. Noel, when he speaks as follows: Through such an ordeal, scarcely the best men in the kingdom could pass unscathed. But, to make the matter worse, worldly statesmen are, in general, likely to create worldly prelates, and to expose men whose tempers are ambitious, and who have given no proofs of spirituality, to temptations strong enough to corrupt the wisest and the most devout.'
"These things being so, no wonder, my Lord, that the very idea of a bishop's office should be obscured, nay, lost, among the people at large. Sir James Graham has shown us what the consequences have been on the mind of one of our shrewdest and most practical statesmen, one too by no means hostile to the Church. Even Sir Robert Peel thought a proposed increase in the number of bishops a fit subject for ridicule. In fact, to multiply bishops would serve but to multiply the evil, unless some plan shall previously have been adopted for securing, as far as possible, the appointment of fit men to an office, the important influence of which on the religious character of the whole Church cannot be exaggerated."
Such views as these are not lightly to be regarded in any point of view. They are not the views of party men. They are not the opinions of those who are anxious for the political ascendancy of the Church over other denominations. They arise from a feeling very widely diffused, that the weak side of the Church in its contest with the spirit of the age for the great objects of its existence, is very much in its Episcopate and its higher members. It is felt, that while we are confronted by a spirit which is really and essentially that of Antichrist—a spirit which seeks to dethrone Christianity from its supremacy, and to give free scope to all forms of religious error, and even of infidelity—and while we can distinctly see that this evil agency is at work upon the State in England, guiding all its actions to the gradual subversion of all substantive and distinctive verities, and to the conversion of the kingdom of God into a deistical engine of state policy, the great mass of the Church is left unsupported by the hierarchy, because
the hierarchy is the ally of that State from which all our dangers and evils proceed. We recognize with the deepest thankfulness the great services of individual prelates, and other members of the hierarchy; we cannot speak with too much gratitude of the exertions which they have made, and we have no doubt of their continued advocacy, under all circumstances, of the cause of the Gospel; but this does not touch the real difficulty and danger of the case. It does not secure the Episcopate itself from being divided, and subject to State influence on all occasions; and it is the perpetual recurrence of instances proving the subserviency of the hierarchy, in part, to the will of the Minister of the day, without regard to the Church's interests, that leads men with reason to inquire whether such close alliance between the Church and State be desirable-whether seats in the House of Lords are to be regarded as a benefit, if they involve political ties which are to overbalance higher considerations-whether the presence of a divided hierarchy in the House of Lords brings any benefit whatever to the Church or the State-whether a hierarchy so trammelled by its obligations to Ministers in office, and Ministers expectant, that it never dares to move independently of the will of Ministers-never ventures to introduce measures on its own responsibility-never attempts openly to lead the Church at large in its demands for undoubted rights and privileges-whether, we say, a hierarchy thus hampered and fettered, is capable of doing its duty, as it ought to be done, fearlessly, faithfully, with singlemindedness, and without admixture of secular objects. If men could see that under the present system of nomination it was possible for the representatives of the Church in the House of Lords to act with unanimity on great questions affecting the political status, the religious influence, the undoubted privileges, rights, and endowments of the Church, they would recognize the practical benefits of a system which worked so well; but under existing circumstances it is impossible to point out any advantages in the possession of Parliamentary seats which can in any degree counterbalance the admitted evil of withdrawing bishops from their dioceses for many months in each year, and involving them in the expense of a residence in London during the fashionable season. We say, that the circumstances of the case make it impossible to take the ground in defence of Parliamentary seats which might otherwise be taken. The absence of every tangible good result, nay, the perpetual recurrence of the extreme evil arising from division amongst the Bishops in the House of Lords on every great question affecting the Church-completely shuts the mouths of those who would be unwilling to see the hierarchy divested of any one of its temporal dignities.
Of course the whole evil arises from the power possessed by the political minister, whoever he may be, of nominating bishops of his own choice. It is this which gives a political complexion to the Episcopate, and in depriving it of its unity, destroys its collective influence, and separates it from the great body of the Church. We are more and more deeply convinced, that until the power of the Crown in the nomination of bishops is exercised by some unpolitical body, there will only be a recurrence of the evil from which we have so long and so deeply suffered. Divisions there will always be in the Church: the constitution of the human mind forbids the hope of perfect agreement at all times; but still there are certain points where aggression is manifestly made from without, in which the Church, if free to act for herself, will always unite. But all unity of action is at an end, when the very influence which has to be resisted has a body of allies and partizans in the bosom of the Church. The result is, that all efforts are unavailing, and the Church is able to oppose no effectual opposition to her antagonists. Her own members are willing to open the gates to the enemy. If this were an occasional and accidental evil, it would be of less importance; but the alarming feature in the case is, that such is the permanent, never ceasing danger and affliction of the Church. The world has its grasp tenaciously fixed on the positions which command our whole
When we reflect on this unquestionable fact, it does seem to us, that there is as much to encourage Churchmen in one point of view, as there is to alarm them in another. What else but the Spirit of God could have sustained the Church's principles, under the paralyzing influence of ministerial appointments? It is to the special interference of God's Providence that we owe the amount of good which has actually existed, in positions where ministerial patronage placed men without reference to their spiritual qualifications, and merely with some political view. Amidst and notwithstanding worldly influences, Christian principle has found its way into high places in the Church; and in spite of all difficulties and discouragements, coldness of spirit, worldly pride, and many other deadening obstacles, the spirit of the Church has grown more earnest and zealous and self-denyingher energies have developed themselves in every direction; and while she is daily losing ground in the political world, she is gaining in all religious respects. And assuredly it is not without significance, that her increase and expansion in all ways, have been in exact proportion to the degree in which State protection and encouragement has been withdrawn from her. This is, we source of great comfort to all true members of the Church
of England: it is to them a sufficient proof, if any were wanting, of the falsehood of that assertion of all the enemies of our faiththat the Church of England owes her existence to the will of the State; and that she has no claim to the character of a living and true branch of the Church founded by Jesus Christ.
We now approach the other great subject of Mr. Cavendish's pamphlet we refer to the question of Convocation. There is considerable difference of opinion amongst good men on this important question. Various arguments are adduced against making the synod of the English Church more than a name. The grand argument against it, is founded on an appeal to our fears. We must confess that we were under the influence of such arguments formerly; we can therefore see more clearly the conscientious fear which haunts many minds of various sentiments. we feel convinced that not only should the Church's legislative functions be resumed, even if there were a risk, but that they may be safely resumed. We must cite Mr. Cavendish's interesting remark on this subject:
"Almost every divine who, either from station, character, or ability, is entitled to be quoted as an authority upon such points as those to which I have now called your Grace's attention, has attributed this most lamentable state of things to the same cause,—the suspension of the Church's legislative powers. When we see distinguished men of the most diverse schools of thought and opinion, such, for instance, as the Archbishop of Dublin and the Bishop of Oxford, Archdeacon Wilberforce and Archdeacon Hare, concurring on this one point, surely no slight presumption is raised by such an agreement in favour of their common conclusion. Even Mr. Noel justifies his secession from the Church by pointing to the same anomaly, and the hopelessness of removing it. Coleridge pronounced the loss of the convocation, the greatest and, in an enlarged state policy, the most impolitic affront ever offered by a government to its own established Church.' Let it be ever remembered, too, that we owe the suppression of convocation to the most profligate of ministers and the most profligate of Courts. Convocation threatened proceedings against the openly Socinian Bishop Hoadley. Queen Caroline and Sir Robert Walpole manifested their love of liberty and their sense of justice, by not only stifling all inquiry into the doctrines broached by their protégé, but also by sentencing the audacious assembly which demanded it to virtual extinction. Well, indeed, might Coleridge deliberately say, that the virtual abrogation of this branch of our constitution, is one of the three or four whig patriotisms that have succeeded in de-anglicising the mind of England.'
The combination of men of such different views as those referred to by Mr. Cavendish, at once relieves this question of all imputation of being a mere party question. It is supported by all the VOL. XI.—NO. XXII.-JUNE, 1849. D d
various schools in the Church; and we regret to add, that it is also feared by members of the same schools. Nevertheless we see plainly, that the necessity of doing something is becoming too obvious and urgent, to permit longer delay. Men see that nothing is to be gained by waiting patiently for our rulers to lead the way; and they also see the Legislature yearly becoming less qualified to make regulations for a Christian Church. Let us again hear Mr. Cavendish on this subject:
"Since last century, however, vast national changes have taken place. Parliament was then composed of none but members of the Church. It might pretend, not unfairly, to represent the laity, while Convocation represented the spirituality of the Church. The case is now widely altered. Parliament has now lost the power of taking part, as a united body, in ecclesiastical and religious affairs. It is surely self-evident that Parliament should abstain from passing laws on religious questions, which laws must obtain the free concurrence of Romanists, Churchmen, and Socinians. The Church is Christ's institution, she is the witness to a certain definite and unchangeable body of truth, which has been handed down to us from the time of the Apostles. Parliament is the expression of the infinitely various and ever-changing wills and opinions of the men who happen to be in possession of the right of voting for its members. The mischiefs resulting from this dilemma have been pointed out with his accustomed force, by Archdeacon Wilberforce, in his charge for 1848. 'Parliament,' he says, 'the State legislature, and Convocation, as the legislature of the Church, were once perfectly accordant, because no man was a member of the one, who did not recognize the authority of the other. Such temporal questions as concerned the Church were naturally left to the determination of her lay representatives in Parliament, while they left the consideration of spiritual questions to those whom, as Churchmen, they accounted the spiritual authority. But how can this co-operation be attained, now that the Church cannot look upon the members of the civil legislature as her lay representatives, and therefore cannot expect them to regard her as an authority in things divine? That it is unseemly to submit questions affecting the Church's internal management to those who are not Churchmen, is what their own practice teaches, and their own conscience may suggest. For what member of any other religious body would commit the management of its internal affairs to members of the Church? Would the Wesleyans entrust the arrangements of their conference to a body of Churchmen? Would the Romanists allow any but themselves to settle their faith? Since men of various parties have been admitted to an equal share in our Government, it no doubt becomes us to acquiesce, as good subjects, in what the wisdom of our rulers has decided. But there is surely one condition, on which we have a right to insist; it is so plainly equitable, that it can hardly be refused us. That Romanists or Socinians should have their share in civil legislation, is part of that broad system of liberty