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opinions of the Bishops will be preferred to the judgment of Convocation? If Convocation is in disrepute, what has made it so ? Need we look further for a reason than the empty talk of such men as Drs. Tait and Baring? We most heartily wish it were far otherwise; but it is no use attempting to blink the fact that some of the Bishops have done all that in them lies to lower the Church in the eyes of the world, and bring themselves into contempt. A grand occasion was afforded them of vindicating themselves in the sight of all; but they have let the golden opporunity slip by without making use of it; and, with a few honourable exceptions, have shown an amount of weakness and tergiversation totally unfitting them for action in any great emergency. Under these circumstances, notwithstanding the brag of the Bishop of Gloucester, the declaration of the Bishops will go forth to the world as mere old women's talk, fit for the tea-table and the Guardian.
A "BRIGHT" VIEW OF THE CHURCH.
[Union,' March 8, 1861.]
N the recent debate on the Church-rate Abolition Bill, Mr. Bright went out of the way to volunteer his opinions on Church matters in general. The particulars upon which he entered did not touch upon the law of Church-rates in the remotest degree; and therefore, as a mere Quaker view of the Church, might well be passed over unnoticed, were it not useful sometimes to observe and know what our enemies may have to say about us.
Mr. Bright's greatest objection to the Church of England is directed against the manner in which the Bishops are appointed. We cordially agree with him in protesting against this great defect in the Church system a defect so patent that even Mr. Bright rushes at it, and runs it down without considering whether it makes for or against the subject of debate. Honourable members of the Erastian type we should imagine would consider the present method of appoint
ing Bishops as an argument in favour of Church-rates. Be this as it may, if Mr. Bright lives to see the day when the Bishops are no longer appointed by the State, he may, with equally good conscience, adduce this very thing as a reason why the public should not pay a stiver.
Mr. Bright's friends, we imagine, know just what value to set upon his clap-trap phrases, or they would stand amazed at such a speech as this:-"There is not another Church in Christendom in which the highest dignitaries are not appointed by ecclesiastical authority. In the Church of Rome the Bishops are eventually appointed by the Pope." This is tolerably fast for a Quaker, and therefore, a thorough-going Protestant. Again" Seven years ago the Prime Minister of England was a Presbyterian,* and yet he appointed a Bishop to the Church of England: the present Prime Minister † is said to have appointed half the present bench of Bishops; but although regarded by many as an able politician, he is not specially reverenced as a divine, or as an ecclesiastical authority. The noble lord has not been generally considered as particularly orthodox in his religious views. I have lately seen a paragraph stating that the noble lord is now sitting under a presbyterian divine." Ungrateful Mr. Bright! Is this the way you serve your friends? We profess no admiration for the noble lord at the head of the Government: we owe him no debt of gra† Lord Palmerston.
*The Earl of Aberdeen.
titude we would speak of him in such terms as he deserves; and yet we could not say anything more severe than this. Mr. Bright next gave what he intended to be an amusing account of the sale of a Church living, the point of the matter depending upon the coarseness of the auctioneer cracking jokes about the aged incumbent's nose. Such jesting is unquestionably most unseemly; but it is not the fault of the Church, or of private patronage, or indeed of the transfer of that patronage. Private patronage, surrounded as it is by so many safeguards, has worked as well for the Church as any other kind of patronage. The mistake arises in the legal fiction that it is not proper to transfer an advowson during vacancy. Mr. Bright says, no such thing as such a sale could be pointed out amongst any Dissenters ―certainly not with the contingency of a life thereon depending. Meeting-houses are bought and sold, and but little consideration is paid to the existing teacher; he is nobody. The lord deacons, trustees, or other presiding powers, would summarily eject any one who stood in the way of a good bargain.
Anything for an argument: therefore, Mr. Bright and his compeers lugged into the debate the notorious "Essays and Reviews." It does not signify how many shades of infidelity and heresy there are amongst the various forms of Protestants, or how many divisions. The dirty beggar, bespattered with filth from head to foot, is delighted to discover a blemish on
another's clean apparel; and nothing pleases the thorough reprobate so much, as to find out the good man's failings. It is, therefore, nothing but human nature for one whose system of theology is a mere myth to endeavour to cast a slur upon the Faith which has been, and is to this day, the stay of countless millions.