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the clergy from the hands of the common informer, and has placed the enforcement of residence almost entirely in the Episcopal Bench. Something would be done towards correcting the evil, if every bishop would determine to make no unnecessary pluralists in the administration of his own patronage ; and would also endeavour to check the general system, by securing residence as much as possible; and particularly by enforcing the provisions of the Curates' Act (now comprised in the Consolidation Act) in respect to the stipends of curates. These provisions, unless upheld with more zeal than has been generally displayed on the subject, will prove a mere nullity; for the demand for titles and curacies is already beginning to be so great, that we may expect they will soon with difficulty be procured ; and therefore, unless the Act is strictly enforced, will be gladly accepted at stipends quite inadequate to the maintenance of a clergyman. Enforcing the Act, it is true, will tend to diminish the value of small livings as a speculation; but this only or principally affects non-resident pluralists, who certainly ought not to wish that a parish should be neglected merely for their pecuniary emolument. The Act justly exempted the existing race of incumbents from the additional burden: and those who have accepted preferment since the period of its passing have
done so knowing on what footing they stand. A benefice which is thus rendered of little value to a pluralist may still afford a comfortable maintenance to a resident incumbent; and to secure residence, is an object the attainment of which every conscientious prelate must have greatly at heart. Two contiguous benefices of small value may perhaps, in some cases, be united under one incumbent with advantage : but the mere circumstance of the smallness of many of our benefices is rather an argument against pluralities than for them; for if a benefice will not maintain an incumbent, how can it inaintain an incumbent and a curate also ?
But even if every bishop on the bench should determine to overlook no instance of non-residence but what is so strictly within the letter of legal exemption that he could not in any way prevent it; and if, setting aside the consideration of what may be convenient or inconvenient to his clergy*, he should act decisively on the plan of other public functionaries, who never study the “convenience” of
* This remark is not intended to apply where the officiating minister resides in the parish or its immediate vicinity, even though not in the parsonage house; because such an arrangement may often be more convenient to the incumbent, without injuring his flock. It would be both an impolitic and a severe measure to restrict the clergy where there is no absolute necessity.
individuals to the injury of the service, and do not scruple when necessary to command an officer to join his regiment, or his ship, at the risk of great inconvenience to the party ; still the law, when most strictly construed, would furnish so many admitted pleas for non-residence, that the evil would not be extirpated. To allude but to one instance among many, what provision can be more defective than that the value in the king's books should still continue the criterion by which this most important question is regulated; when it is notorious that many livings of five or six hundred pounds a year, with a large and increasing population, fall under value in that ancient register; while others, which are a mere trifle in a pecuniary point of view, and contain but a very small number of inhabitants, exceed it. Till defects of this kind are corrected, pluralities and non-residence can never be effectually restrained; and till they are restrained, the cause of religion and the church must correspondingly suffer.
viii. By shewing themselves in all things an ex
ample to the Clergy and the Flock. To instance but one way more in which our bishops may powerfully assist in effecting the great objects under discussion,--they may
do so by shewing themselves in all things an example to their Clergy and the Flock.—Here we need not dilate, for the proposition carries with it its own evidence. Most of the duties which have been mentioned as binding on the laity, as well as those which will be specified in the next section as applicable to the clergy, are doubly incumbent on those who are the heads and guides of all. The importance of the conduct and example of our ecclesiastical dignitaries, both to excite men to devotion and to awaken and confirm their attachment to the Established Church can scarcely be too highly estimated: “It cannot be denied," said Lord Bacon, “but that the imperfections in the conversation and government of those which have chief place in the church, have ever been principal causes and motives of schisms and divisions. For whilst the bishops and governors of the church continue full of knowledge and good works; whilst they feed the flock indeed; whilst they deal with the secular states in all liberty and resolution, according to the majesty of their calling, and the precious care of souls imposed upon them, so long as the church is situated, as it were, upon a hill, no man maketh question of it, or seeketh to depart from it; but when these virtues in the fathers and leaders of the church have lost their light, and that they wax worldly, lovers of them
selves, and pleasers of men, then men begin to grope for the church as in the dark; they are in doubt whether they be the successors of the Apostles or of the Pharisees; yea, howsoever they sit in Moses' chair, yet they can never speak as having authority, because they have lost their reputation in the consciences of men, by declining their steps from the way which they trace out to others; so that men had need continually have sounding in their ears this same • Go not out;' so ready are they to depart from the church upon every voice.”
The standard by which even men of the world estimate the episcopal character, is so elevated, that it is impossible for the highest virtues to exceed it, while a merely ordinary degree of propriety of conduct will fall far below it. For the author of these pages to attempt to delineate the perfection of that character would be quite presumptuous : he therefore leaves the sketch to better hands. He cannot, however, but remark, that the present times imperatively demand in our prelates the intimate combination of the two characteristics which separately distinguished Fenelon and Bossuet, of whom it was said, L'un prouve la religion; l'autre la fait aimer. The latter especially is peculiarly necessary in our own country; because the general tendency of the preaching