« AnteriorContinuar »
REVIEW OF NEW PUBLICATIONS. Art. I.-1. An Inquiry concerning the Means and Expedience of pro
posing and making any Changes in the Canons, Articles, or Liturgy, or in any of the Laws affecting the Interests of the Church of England. By WILLIAM WINStanley Hull, of Lincoln's Inn, Barrister at Law, late Fellow of Brazennose College, Oxford. J. Parker, Oxford ;
Rivingtons, London. 8vo. 1828. Price 7s. 2.- Church Reform. By A Churchman. London: J. Murray and J. Parker. 1828. 8vo. Price 6s. 6d.
(Continued from page 270.) Having already introduced these publications to our readers, and endeavoured to show that the liturgical changes which they advocate are inexpedient and unnecessary, we proceed to the discussion of the remaining topics embraced by the respectable writers before us. Not, indeed, that we have either space or inclination to follow our authors through all the details of their projected amendments : we select rather the most prominent of their schemes, and can honestly assure those, who may wish to peruse the pamphlets on our table, that they will not fail to reap an abundant harvest of amusement and instruction. They will find, it must be confessed, much learning in the Barrister injudiciously applied ; and the Churchman's Reform will sometimes startle them by the boldness of his sweeping changes ; yet the spirit of conciliation with which they advocate their respective measures will receive, we are sure, unmixed approbation, and their sincere attachment to the Established Church will win the favour of every man who wishes to promote her welfare.
Amongst her most zealous friends we claim the privilege of ranking ourselves. The pages of the Christian Remembrancer shall be ever devoted to the fearless maintenance of her righteous cause ; and we examine the projects which touch her interests with a feeling approaching to jealousy, because we love her. We love her, because VOL. XI. NO. VI.
who paid the forfeit o
ot we would not denyies of one ag
we see in her doctrines, her formularies, and her laws, the great bulwark of Protestantism : and on that head, which would plot her ruin, and on that hand, which would rob her of her endowments, we should be tempted to imprecate the fate of that officious meddler, who paid the forfeit of his life for daring to violate the sanctity of the ark of God! And yet, we would not deny that our Church may need Reform. Laws adapted to the exigencies of one age may become unfit for another. We would not, therefore, condemn all correction as sacrilege ; and we are anxious to remove the blemishes, which time, or human infirmity, or vice, may have slowly and silently introduced into our ecclesiastical polity. The more perfect we can make our Church, the more secure will she be; and the timidity of the coward, who refuses the aid of the physician till all medicine be too late, is equally to be condemned with the rashness of the empiric who prescribes his patient into the grave. We would imitate the prudence of the Church of England, whose wisdom it has ever been
To keep the mean between the two extremes of too much stiffness in refusing, and of too much easiness in admitting variation. For as, on the one side, common experience showeth, that where a change hath been made of things advisedly established, (no evident necessity so requiring,) sundry inconveniences have therefore ensued; and those many times more and greater than the evils that were intended to be remedied by such change: so, on the other side, .... it is but reasonable, that, upon weighty and important considerations, according to the various exigency of times and occasions, such changes and alterations should be made therein, as to those that are in place of authority should, from time to time, seem either necessary or expedient.*
We gladly adorn our pages with an extract from Mr. Hull, with whom, on this point, we perfectly harmonize in opinion :
It seems fair from history, fair in theory, to infer, that the most perfect Church, in our eyes, at the commencement of this century, might be well improved at the commencement of the next by its then members. How sad are the consequences of that pretension to infallibility, which the Popes still maintain! If we declare at once against all change without inquiry, we pretend to infallibility just as much as the Popish Church. Any needless impediments to inquiry and change are evidence of the same pretension in a less degree. On the other hand, it is idle for individuals in a Church to claim a right to live without rules, and articles, and creeds: it cannot be, even in the civil department. .... All men should leave to the rulers of their Church all things that are indifferent; and make those regulations their own, and obey them in all cases, wherein such obedience does not offend conscience. When an individual insists upon doing all his conscience requires him to do, then he is becoming a bad subject. All that conscience can possibly require is, that he should not be compelled to do what offends his conscience. Order and good rule would soon be at an end, if conscience were allowed to justify the deeds of any enthusiast; and there might be many a Venner in the streets of London every year.-P. 44.
• The Preface to the Book of Common Prayer.
But the expediency of inquiry, and the necessity of Church reform become still more manifest, from the fact which is thus stated by our Churchman, in the introduction to his work.
The Reformation in this country Never WAS COMPLETED. .... One main branch of the Reformation, for instance, the compilation of a body of ecclesiastical laws, for which measures were taken almost on the first dawn of the light of Protestantism, which for a long succession of years was held in view, and at length almost brought to a conclusion, was broken off by the death of Edward VI. That the work of the Reformation was left incomplete is no matter of surprise, when the circumstances of the times are kept in mind. When we reflect upon the many and various difficulties with which Cranmer had to contend, we admire him for doing so much, rather than censure him for not doing more. Admirable indeed were the temper, the judgment, and the caution, with which he steered his course among the rocks, and shoals, and quicksands, which every where surrounded him, through the fierce despotism, the fiery passions, and conceited arrogance of intellect, of Henry the Eighth, and the secularity and avarice, the deadly animosities and complicated intrigues of those, who, after his death, conducted the government of the country. The Reformation, one of the greatest periods of human improvement, was a time of trouble and confusion. .... Upon the accession of Elizabeth, her object was, as quickly as possible, to restore the national religion to the state in which it was at the death of her brother; and thus to have as little discussion on the subject as possible. ....Her successor was not less apprehensive of the increasing influence of Puritanism; and the pious, though not always well-judging men, who framed the millenarian petitions, asked so much, that they failed to obtain some things, which might, perhaps, have been advantageously granted to them. .... At the Savoy Conference, almost immediately after the Restoration, the objections to the Liturgy brought forward by the Presbyterians, and the replies of the advocates of the Church, bore, of course, a strong similarity to those which were respectively adduced at the Conference at Hampton Court. But the excellent and able men who defended the cause of the Church, had in many ways smarted too severely and too RECENTLY, from the temporary triumph of their adversaries, to be well disposed for the work of concession and conciliation.
Another attempt to remove some imperfections in our ecclesiastical institutions, and to supply or complete some things that were wanting, was made immediately after the abdication of James II. and the accession of his daughter and her husband to the throne. On September 13, 1689, a commission was issued by King William to ten Bishops and twenty Divines, to prepare matters to be considered by the Convocation. One subject of this commission was the improvement of ecclesiastical law, and another was the reformation of the ecclesiastical courts..... Several of the Bishops, to whom the commission was addressed, were able and learned men; and of the twenty Divines, some were among the most distinguished ornaments of the Church of England; for instance, Stillingfleet, and Patrick, and Sharp, and Beveridge, and Burnet, and Tillotson. The heart-burnings occasioned by the great Rebellion, however, were not yet laid to rest, and the Revolution had just given a fresh impulse to unquiet and hostile party-feelings. Some of the Commissioners namned by the King either did not appear, or soon deserted their brethren.* .... It must be acknowledged, that the alterations suggested by these Commissioners, though dictated by a genuine spirit of conciliation, were greatly too extensive. Much of what they proposed might be adopted with great benefit to the Church. But the spirit of the times was most unfavourable for the work; and the attempt at improvement was altogether abortive.
Thus has the Church of England gone on from the commencement of the reformation of religion until the present time, a period of almost three hundred
• Birch's Life of Tillotson.
years, acknowledging and lamenting her own incompleteness in some important particulars, but prevented by some extraneous circumstances from applying a remedy.—Pp. 4–10.
Unquestionably, this is a strong case made out for inquiry; and he who should “correct and counteract the innovations of time, and bring back some few of our ecclesiastical institutions to their primitive intention and object,” “would contribute much to the honour, and extension, and stability of our apostolical Church of England; would increase not a little the efficiency of her clergy; and consequently would, under the divine blessing, be instrumental in promoting the everlasting welfare of the people committed to their charge.”-( Church Reform, p. 19.)
With regard to the discipline of the Church, as far as concerns the clergy, that there should be vested in the hands of our Biskops a definite, a cheap, and a prompt method of controlling their conduct, “ is a consummation devoutly to be wished.” The absolute necessity of such corrective discipline, no man in his senses can deny. As the law now stands, episcopal control is so beset with difficulties and impediments, so tedious in its process, so uncertain in its issue, and so ruinous in point of expense, that the Bishops are deterred from its use. Scandalous and notoriously profligate delinquents have thus mocked at the admonitions of their diocesans, and involved them at the same time in most inconvenient costs. Such foul blots are too well known to need any statement in our pages.
All men of the slightest pretension to common sense and proper feeling must concur in thinking that this state of things ought to be remedied without delay. Church Reform, p. 32.
But what is the remedy? Our Churchman suggests the appointment of Courts Ecclesiastical, almost exactly similar in their constitution and proceedings to Courts Martial in the army and navy. A clergyman being charged with some specific offence, the Bishop is to commission some of the most respectable of the sacred profession in the neighbourhood to inquire whether there be any ground for the accusation. Upon their affirmative report, a certain number of clergymen are to constitute a court for the trial of the person accused. They are to be of the chapter of the cathedral. The court is to be held in the chapter-house. The Chancellor of the diocese might, it is thought, fulfil the duties of Judge Advocate ; and it is proposed that the Registrar of the diocese should act as public prosecutor. The finding of the court is not to be made public until it has been submitted to the Bishop of the Diocese, by whom the sentence, (a fine, in proportion to the amount of the ecclesiastical income of the delinquent, or suspension, or total degradation) should be definitively pronounced. When the charge is established the expenses are to
fall on the delinquent. When it is found to be groundless, the promoters of it must be responsible.
We confess that we are by no means friendly to this proposal of our author. We dislike what wears too much the appearance of a system of espionage ; and we should infinitely prefer a summary jurisdiction placed in episcopal hands, with an appeal in all cases to the Archbishop, and thence to the King. But the subordinate details of the corrective measure, we do not assume the province of stating. The discipline is loudly called for, and must be, sooner or later, adopted.
So, again, the canons of the Church challenge immediate review. The constitutions of Otho and Othobon,-of Boniface, Peccham, and Mepham, would be absolutely ludicrous, when applied to the present times, were they not sorrowful burdens upon our consciences. The canons of 1603, wanting the sanction of Parliament, do not bind the laity. How far they are obligatory upon the clergy, either in law or in conscience, is by no means clearly ascertained. Archdeacon Sharpe argues that the clergy have a tacit dispensation for not following the letter of the canon in all points.
The Canons were framed, he says, (for thus our author quotes him, p. 53] suitably to the particular principles, discipline, and customs, of that age in which they are set forth. The reasons of some injunctions have now ceased. The use and fitness of others now no longer appeareth. And what might be decent then, and pass well, would seem now, after almost a century and a half, through gradual change of customs, strangely antique and unbecoming. Now surely this state of things ought not to be suffered to continue. Surely the ecclesiastical law of the kingdom ought not to be permitted to remain in this state of uncertain obligation, of inextricable entanglement, of obsoleteness, and desuetude.
A Board of Commissioners appointed by the Crown might easily concoct a remedy, to be submitted to Convocation, and finally sanctioned by Parliament.
But we hasten from this topic to the consideration of Church Endowments, Church Pluralities, and Church Property, which are respectively weighed in chapters 4, 5, and 10 of the work which occupies the second place at the head of our present article. Already has the trumpet of alarm opened her brazen throat; and, as if to give the lie direct to the fond prophecies of peace and tranquillity for emancipated Ireland, the noisy canonizer of Paine has petitioned the Legislature to “repeal the Church Establishment” of that unhappy land! Again, it seems, the agricultural interest hath directed her assaults upon the tithes; and every demagogue in the kingdom, seconded by a rabble rout of farmers, and butchers, and graziers, is looking with ravenous eye upon the property of the Church. The confiscation of her funds is with such men the infallible panacea for our national difficulties. “Abolish the accursed tithe system, and agriculture shall meet with no impediment: the half-ruined farmer shall
have the lie direcond, the noisy Cauch Establishment