« PreviousContinue »
too highly. They look at it simply in a spiritual point of view, as a means of promoting the efficiency of the Church. They are anxious for such an increase in the episcopate as will bring it more in contact with the parochial system; will make the bishop more the personal friend, and counsellor, and helper of his clergy and his laity than he now can be. An expression of opinion on these points from such men as Lord Ashley and Lord Harrowby was just what was wanted, in order to prove the cordial concurrence of men of all shades of opinion in the Church of England in the desirableness of the object.
In reference to the amount of the addition which ought to be made to the episcopate, Mr. Colquhoun states this important fact, that although a high authority has affirmed "that if three or four bishops were added, it would be sufficient," he is "bound to say that the great body of opinion which has reached" the promoters of the plan "leans in a different direction. Some have proposed that fifty new bishops should be added; others, that all the deaneries (twenty-eight in number) should be converted into new bishoprics." We feel assured that such is the general feeling. The bishop is felt, even in the more moderatesized dioceses, where there are not above 400 or 500 parishes, to be at too great a distance from his clergy. He is very seldom seen. The clergy are, to a great extent, unacquainted with him. They feel that they must not trespass on his time with inquiries and requests which they would gladly make. Most of the laity never see him, except, once in their lives, at Confirmation. They never hear him preach in their parish churches. We know that matters cannot well be otherwise under the present system; but, in order to make the episcopate a reality in the eyes of our people,—in order to enable it to discharge in some degree its pastoral functions, those duties especially and formally committed to it at Ordination,—those duties to souls which are its first and principal object,—we say, without fear of effectual contradiction, that it must be considerably increased. It must be increased as far as it is possible. We shall have but a moderate fund left for the episcopate under the plans now in progress. all the improved value of Church lands and property is to be assigned to the foundation of new parishes, which seems to be demanded by public opinion, we have only one other source to look to, besides the actual income assigned to the hierarchy; viz., the endowments of the deaneries. In the Plan, it is proposed that these revenues, amounting to 36,4007. per annum, should be applied, as they fall in, to erect new sees; and, according to the scale proposed in the Plan, this would provide endowments for eighteen sees and no more; and were the incomes of the new
bishops placed at a higher scale, their number must be still more limited.
We have before now expressed an opinion, that the plan adopted in the case of the erection of the bishopric of Manchester was not a desirable one, because the principle of interfering with the Parliamentary seats of all the episcopal sees was thus introduced; and also because the plan proceeded evidently on the supposition that it was necessary for all bishops to be in some sense, either at present or prospectively, peers of Parliament; and, therefore, that all new bishops must possess incomes on the same scale as the existing bishops. Now, we lament this, because it seems to us, that if such a principle be adopted, the increase in the episcopate must necessarily be extremely limited, unless, indeed, the scale of income for the hierarchy be diminished. The country would never bear to see many new bishops appointed, with incomes of 4000l. or 5000l. a year. It would be exclaimed against as a useless expenditure of money: it would be exceedingly unpopular. We think, however, that if this principle is adhered to, there is only one way to obtain any increase in the episcopate worth talking of. The scale of income for the whole must be reduced. The present episcopal income, with the incomes of the deaneries added to it, would amount to about 200,000l. per annum; and this would give us fifty bishops, with an average income of 40007. More than this we cannot hope for, and with less than this we ought never to be content. The income of no bishop, except the Bishop of London, should exceed 40007.; in various cases it might be 35007.; and this would afford the means for giving somewhat larger incomes to the Archbishops and the Bishop of London. When it is recollected that several of the bishops, even at present, have only about 40007. each, and that the dioceses would be reduced to half their present size, and also that there are some remote parts of the country in which there is less occasion for a considerable income than in others, we really think that such an alteration would leave the episcopate in the possession of adequate means for the support of its external dignity. To many persons this is of course a consideration of first-rate importance. We cannot concur with them in this; but still we would so far go along with them as to say, that an episcopal establishment must be larger than that of a private clergyman; that a bishop ought to be able to show hospitality; and that the demands on his purse for charitable and religious objects must always be considerable.
The proposal which is made in this Plan, to apply the incomes of deaneries as they fall in to increase the number of bishops, has been strongly objected to, as we learn from Mr. Colquhoun's
Postscript. It has been alleged that this reform would be too violent that it would have a revolutionary character-that the preservation of the office of dean is essential to the due subordination of ecclesiastical offices-that it is an important link in the hierarchy. We are not in the least surprised at these objections, which very naturally arise in the minds of men who look on the present organization of the cathedral system as efficient and good. We are not disposed to deny that there is some degree of weight in these objections; but the arguments on the other side, are, in our view of the matter, far more important.
In the first place, supposing the principle to be adopted that canonries are no longer to be sinecures, or mere benefices for the enrichment of persons who are not in want of them-suppose that canonries are in all cases attached to poorly-endowed and laborious cures are we, in this case, to have sinecure deaneries? Why is the rule, which would give to all other members of a chapter the cure of souls, not to be applied to deaneries? Why are deans alone to be sinecurists? And, again-Is it not a fact, that deaneries have been, as a general rule, held along with parochial preferments? If this be so, there can be no possible objection, in point of precedent and principle, to the union of deaneries with the cure of souls. If every deanery were united with some poorly-endowed parish, there could not be a shadow of ground for objection to such an arrangement derived from the practice or laws of the Church.
For deaneries therefore to remain unconnected with all other duties, there can be no possible necessity. A head of a college has often been a dean. The incumbent of a great parish is sometimes a dean. Why then should not a bishop be a dean? Have we not had many instances of bishops who have held deaneries? The deanery of St. Paul's is always held by a bishop. The deanery of Durham was held by the late Bishop of St. David's. There is no sort of incompatibility between the two offices, except indeed when, as has generally been the case, bishops have held deaneries beyond their own dioceses.
The annexation of the office and authority of dean to that of bishop (every bishop becoming thus the dean of his own cathedral), would strengthen the episcopal authority. As it is, the bishop has no direct authority in his own cathedral. He is its visitor, but the dean is its ordinary ruler and governor. The bishop is actually subordinate to the dean in his own cathedral. The dean directs all matters regarding Divine service. It is only on appeal, or by holding visitation, that the bishop can interfere. We have heard of many instances, in which deans have exercised their authority in
opposition to the desires of their own bishops. Any collision of this kind would be at an end, if the bishop were himself dean and ordinary of his cathedral church. Were this the case, the office of sub-dean would at once assume much of the importance and position which is now held by that of the dean, just as the vicechancellors of the universities have become their heads in the absence of their chancellors. This office of sub-dean would of course be held by one of the canons in each cathedral, who might have especial charge of the edifice and of Divine Service in the absence of the bishop, and who might, on this ground, be assigned some cure of souls in immediate connexion with the cathedral, or might even be exempted from any parochial duties.
We cannot quite go along with Mr. Colquhoun in his apology for those who have proposed the union of the office of dean with that of bishop. He states that such union would be in opposition to his own private feelings and wishes, but that it appears necessary in order to remove sinecure appointments which public opinion will not tolerate, and to provide funds for a still more important object. But we really do not see that any apology is necessary for removing the evil of sinecurism, and for re-instating the bishop in that authority over his own cathedral which he originally possessed, and from which he has been ousted by the deans. The rank of dean is no essential link in the hierarchy. The dignity was not instituted till about the thirteenth century. It has only just been instituted in several dioceses, for the first
If deaneries be not applied to strengthen the episcopate, they will certainly not remain as they are. If any further measure of cathedral reform be carried, the deaneries will either be extinguished, or united to populous parishes. The country will not be content to see incomes of 1000l. and 20007. a year given to functionaries who have nothing to do with the cure of souls.
It will be doubtless objected by a certain class of reasoners, that the removal of what they call prizes-the reduction of the number of dignitaries of the Church in any one branch would operate as a discouragement to the higher classes to enter on the Christian ministry, and therefore that it is necessary to retain deaneries as at present constituted. But such persons should remember that it is not proposed to diminish the number of Church dignitaries on the whole. The only difference would be, that we should have bishops instead of deans. There might be nearly as many more bishops as there are now deans.
We are fully aware that there are many members of the Church, to whom the most respectful consideration is due, who are reluctant to see any alteration in the present system of things, and who
dread the effect of any further interference with Church property. But we would say to such persons, with all the respect which is due to them, that the strength of the Church depends on its efficiency-that the blessing of God will go along with a firm resolution to postpone every other consideration to that of providing for the cure of souls, and what is immediately connected with it; and that the spirit of the age-a cold and ungenerous spirit we admit, but one which does prevail-forbids the application of the State's funds to religious purposes until those of the Church herself shall have been made available to the fullest extent. Are we then to see the people perishing before our eyes for lack of knowledge, because the State is illiberal and neglectful of its duties? Surely not: it is our duty, as a Church, to make every possible effort for the salvation of the souls of our brethren, and therein for the salvation of our Church itself, and of the nation. We must here avail ourselves of the sound and weighty words of Mr. Colquhoun :
"I do not now speak of the want of new churches: I speak of that which is more important, the want of pastors; of men who will tread the lanes and alleys of our cities, dive into the cellars, and garrets, and hovels of the poor. Take them from what class you will, pay them as
scantily as you may, but let us have them, and have them now. who is to feed them? I do not say what the State should do. is a previous question which your Lordships will feel must be settled. The Church must first do all she can. Has she funds which can be turned to use? She should employ them. Is there a part of her property which can yield an income now wanted? Let it go to the wants of the people. Are there any of her clergy who live in affluent ease? Their superfluity should be applied to feed the hard-working pastor. These changes are reasonable, essential; no time should be lost in making them. Till they are made, the public mind will not be satisfied: nor ought it. The State is not fairly treated, and still less the Church: the authorities in both (pardon me this freedom), have not done their duty.
"If I am asked why I press this on your Lordship, it is not because we fear any indisposition in the country to these reforms. The country is ready for them; nay, is impatient. Nor do we fear the opposition of Parliament. The reception given in the House of Commons to Mr. Horsman's motions on this subject, is a proof of its favourable dispo
"But we have found, in quarters of the highest authority, a great indisposition to look this question in the face, and to admit that the time had come when it ought to be settled: such parties dread (perhaps it is not unnatural) a new occasion for the interference of Parliament with the revenues of the Church. They fear, that if these are again dealt with, they may be handled roughly.