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te regular attendance at a church, where, but for the presence of this unwelcome
visilor, there would seldom have been a congregation. The neophyle soon 2 brought the paslor to terms, and obtained a reduction of his tithes as the the price of his relapse to the errors of the Church of Rome. It is evident,
ihat ibe larger the incomes of the parochial clergy are, the less important the voluntary contributions of their parishioners, the more upmixed will their motive be to keep the Protestant religion out of their parishes.
When we see the quantity of evil inflicted on Ireland by the levying of lithe, when we see the good prevented, in a hundred ways, for the want of that wealth which is mischievously lavished on the clergy,-we can
hardly believe that a reform of the Church of Ireland will not take place. fk A reform of that Church is, from the large proportion of its patronage in
the hands of the Crown, or the nominees of the Crown, as easy as it is The desirable. We Presbyterians can hardly conceive that there will be any one
found bold enough to affirm, that a bench of twenty-two bishops, to superinteod 860 resident incumbents, and to watch over 4 or 500,000 Protestants of the Establishment, is either useful or ornamental. According to the estimates of Mr. Wakefield, the property of six of these bishops,* when out of lease, would produce 580,0002. a year,-a sum which would give an income of 6501. a year for each of the resident incumbents of Ireland ; or, which would be quite as well, an income of 5001. for each of the clergy, and a fund for the establishment of a school in every parish in Ireland. All this could be done, and the tithes, as far as they are paid to the clergy, could be rapidly abolished by the mere sequestration of six bishopricks as they became vacant, without injury to the feelings or violation of the rights of any man.
The details by which it would be necessary that such a plan should be filled up are very simple and obvious. When this reform should be accomplished there might still remain sixteen bishops to superintend a smaller number of Protestant clergy, and a smaller number of Protestant laily, than one bishop is very easily able to superintend in England. We do not mean to insinuate that they should be allowed to remain ; but as our purpose
is to do good, we would show, in passing, that even after an in- . calculable benefit had been conferred on Ireland, the Episcopal establishment might still remain extravagantly large, and form a very pretty fund for the purposes of Parliamentary influence,--the real purposes for which it is suffered to exist.
As to the Church of England, an inquiry into its actual condition must appear equally desirable to those who do, and to those who do not, think lughly of its efficiency and utility. The smallness of the incomes of many of its living is not complained of so loudly by any persons as by its most zealous friends. Now, if this clamour be meant as any thing more than a pretext for the maintenance of the extravagant parts of the Establishment, by making the members of it who are made inefficient through poverty, a set-off against those who are made inefficient through opulence, the general means of remedying the evil are obvious, and nothing but an inquiry is required to develop the details. The Table which we referred to above as the cause of the mistake of the author of the “ Remarks," as to the numbers of places of worship in England, shows that, in 1812, the 1881 arishes, to which it referred, contained 4,937,782 people, so that each of those parishes had 2650 inhabitants on the average. 'The 8812 remaining
Armagh, Derry, Kilnore, Cingher, Waterford, Cloyne,
parishes contained 5,564,718 inhabitants, or about 630 people each, as the average. In 1809 there were 3998 livings under 1501. a year; and there were also in the same year, out of 11,194 livings from which returns were made, 7358 cases of non-residence. Though we have shown, by the comparison of the state of different dioceses, that the smallness of the livings is not the real cause of the prevalence of non-residence, it is at least one of the pretexts for it. The consolidation of small parishes, where circumstances admit of it, would at once remove this pretext, and the poverty of the greater part of the small livings; and the sequestration of some of the superfluous dignities of the Church, or the levying of first fruits and tenths, according to their real value, upon the overpaid perferments which might hereafter become vacant, would speedily raise the incomes of the remainder. The different distribution of the Church patronage, -the property of advowsons, to which we always suppose attention to be paid, renders a general reform in England a less easy and straightforward work than in Ireland. According to Bishop Watson's computation, in his Charge, 1809, seven tenths of the patronage of parochial livings were in the hands of lay individuals or lay corporations; three tenths being in the hands of the Crown, of ecclesiastical corporations (chiefly composed of nominees of the Crown), and of the Universities; and the greater part of the poor livings are the property of individuals. These circumstances, however, though somewhat untoward, oppose no insurmountable obstacles to reform. It is the interest of the patrons to submit to a consolidation of poor livings,'making arrangements for alternate presentations; because, as a mere matter of merchandize, two livings of his description would be worth considerably more in their united than in their divided state.
Whatever other steps may be taken with respect to the Church of England, a Parliamentary inquiry into its condition is imperatively called for. It is called for, il it needs reform, to show the degree in which reformation is needed, and the way in which it may be effected. It is called for, if it needs no reform, to show that the imputations on it are unfounded. It is needed, to prevent the repetition of the waste of the public money, of which we had such gross instances, when, in the time of the greatest drain on our resources, 100,0001. was granted yearly for the augmentation of poor livings, in utter ignorance of the manner in which the fund already available for that purpose had been mismanaged. It can only be resisted by those who, conscious of the grossness of the abuses by which they profit, think the Church alone cannot bear that exposure to the light, to which every other institution in the country is happily subjected.
ON THE NECESSITY OF A THOROUGH REFORM IN THE
GOVERNMENT OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.*
We have been suspected, we know, of being unfriendly to the Church of England. But we are not—at least on the present occasion. The causes which led to her great Reformation, we think, indeed, should still reform her more; and, with the fullest sense of the general soundness of her doctrines, and the benefits which her establishment has conferred on the com
Letters on the Church, By an Episcopalian.-Vol. xliv. p. 490. September, 1825.
munity, it is impossible to look back to the history of that Reformation, or round to the spread of Sectarianism, and the infinite changes which have since been wrought on the whole frame of our society, without feeling that things may then have been necessary which are now prejudicial—and that much might be adopted in a hurried experiment, which it would be improper to retain in a mature institution.
The subject is familiar enough in the mouths both of capable and incapable talkers :--but in reality it is little in their thoughts; nor do we hesiiale to say, that we do not know any other, of nearly equal importance, on which the public mind is so ill-informed, or to which it has been so little accustomed to direct a calm and scrutinizing attention, as the constitution of the Church of England by law established.
There are some persons to whom, instead of an objection, it would be a chief motive for pressing for Emancipation of the Church-that, in such an emancipation, the alienation of the Church revenues is necessarily involved. These persons do not wish to see the Ecclesiastical Establishment reformed, but utterly overthrown; and its abuses answer their purpose, as tending to make the existing system unpopular. To us, on the contrary, it appears a resource of the highest value that so large a mass of property is set apart by the actual laws of England for the promotion of the physical and moral good of the people, by means so well calculated to effect it. We would call upon Parliament not to interfere with so benevolent an object, but to strive to realize it;-to make the Church in practice what it is in theory ;-10 be bold and decisive in reforming, but, above all things, to shrink from subverting the institution of a regularly-endowed parochial clergy. It is no ordinary national benefit, to have a number of well-educated men dispersed over every part of the kingdom, whose especial business it is to keep up and enforce the knowledge of those most exalted truths which relate to the duties of man, and to his ultimate destiny ;-and who, besides, have a sort of general commission to promote the good of those among whom they are settled, in every possible manner ;-to relieve sickness and poverty, to comfort affliction, to counsel ignorance, to compose quarrels, to soften all violent and uncharitable feelings, and to reprove and discountenance vice. This, we say, is the theory of the business of a parochial clergy. That the practice should always come up to it, it would be utter folly to assert, or to expect : but such is the innate excellence of Christianity, that even now, amidst all the imperfections of the existing Establishment, ils salulary effects are clearly felt; and in those numerous parishes, in different parts of England, in which there is no gentleman resident, the benefits of securing the residence of a well-educated man, with no other trade but that of doing good to the minds and bodies of his neighbours, are almost incalculable. It should be remembered, too, that it is one natural but most unfortunate effect of the English Poor-laws, to generate harsh and unkindly feelings between the labouring classes and the farmers, by whom, in agricultural parishes, the greatest portion of the Poor-rates is paid. In many places, therefore, the clergyman stands, as it were, as a mediator between the poor and their richer neighbours, inclined to protect and relieve the one, from the beneficent spirit of his profession, yet enough connected with the other, by his own rank in society and habits of life, as to be unapt to encourage an idle and profligate pauperism.
There are other points, too, which might be mentioned, and which are not unworthy of the notice of an enlightened statesman. In retired
parishes, the family of the clergyman is often a little centre of civilization, from which gleams of refirement of manners, of neatness, fof taste, as well as of science and general literature, are diffused through districts into which they would otherwise never penetrate. And be it observed, that these are the very parts of the country which nothing but an endowed parochial clergy could regularly and permanently influence. In large towns, indeed, and in wealthy and populous districts, the unpaid zeal of individuals might often supply the place of a minister appointed and maintained by public authority. But in remote country parishes, where there are no inhabitants but farmers, and one or two small shopkeepers, besides the population of day-labourers, it would most commonly be impossible to find an individual willing or qualified to undertake such high and important duties. Such districts would at the best receive only occasional visilations from some itinerant instructor,—who certainly could ill confer all those various benefits, temporal and spiritual, which might be derived from a resident minister of only equal zeal and capacity.
These are the objects for which we desire to retain a religious Establishment; and which we would steadily keep in view as our best guide while reforming the actual institutions of the Church of England. It is evidently most desirable, that the Church should be completely identified with the People; that it should not only be uncorrupt, but should be generally acknowledged to be so; that while its terms of Communion were made as comprehensive as possible, so as to include conscientious members of almost every denomination of Christians, it should be most uncompromising in the standard of moral excellence to which it required its ministers to conform ; and should watch over their previous education, as well as their subsequent course of life, with the most zealous care. The reforms which we desire would remove the evils without involving the total destruction of the eslablishment. Briefly, then, but not heedlessly, we proceed to notice some points in the actual constitution of the English Church, which our very remoteness from its sphere of action has enabled us perhaps to observe more calmly and to judge more impartially.
I. "The Church of England is unpopular. It is connected with the Crown and the Aristocracy; but it is not regarded with affection by the mass of the people;—and this circumstance greatly Jessens its utility, and has powerfully contributed to multiply the number of Dissenters. To this day it feels the effects of the peculiar conjuncture at which it was established. It was the child of the Civil Government, when that Government was a Despotism; and it learnt to echo the language and to copy the arbitrary proceedings of ils patrons, till it shared with them the indignation of the people, and fell with them in one common overthrow. Thus the Church has never thoroughly harmonized with the popular part of our Constitution; and we have been often amused, by observing the soreness with which some English clergymen still speak of the House of Commons and its Committees—as if the terrors of the Long Parliament were still haunting their memories. This notorious spirit of Toryism would of itself tend to alienate the affections of the people from the clergy as a body ; but olher causes have combined to aggravate the mischief.
The system of Church patronage, for instance, while it makes many of the clergy directly dependent upon the rich and the great, makes all of them independent of popular favour; and their
course of life keeps them somewhat remote from the contact of public opinion. Again, the rank which the English clergy
hold in society is often prejudicial to their influence with the poor. Birth, habit, and education have identified them with the higher orders; they share their feelings, and enjoy their pleasures; and they sometimes are ignorant, from mere inexperience, of the language and manner which are most intelligible to the common people, and most readily find the way to their hearts
. Hence has arisen the peculiar unpopularity of their style and manner of preaching. It trembles to offend a cultivated taste and a critical judgment:--it is generally, therefore, free from gross extravagances, but is, beyond all other preaching, tame and unimpressive to uneducated minds. The same character prevails in their writings ;-their Tracts, intended for circulation amongst the poor, are mostly stiff, and have about
them an air of lecturing and prosing, like that of a condescending superior, i addressing readers almost of a different species from himself.
Other causes have their weight with the middling classes of society in indisposing them to the existing establishment. The great incomes and the pluralities enjoyed by the higher clergy cannot but appear excessive; the difficulty of procuring places of Worship, and ministers of the Established Church, to meet the increased population of the country in large towns and in manufacturing districts, argues something deficient in its actual constit tion: and wherever the blame ought most to fall, the general impression is unfavourable to the Church, from the feeling, that while it absorbs a large part of the revenue of the country, it does not sufficiently perform its work. The old laws against Conventicles, and the inflexible strictness with which the service of the Church is confined to the prescribed forms of the Lilurgy, place its ministers also at a disadvantage, when opposed to the unfettered and flexible activity of the Dissenters. Whilst any other Christian teacher may address an audience wherever he can find one, and in the language which he may judge most appropriate to the occasion, a clergyman of the Establishment may preach only within the walls of his parish Church ; nay, he may not preach there, unless he choose also to read the morning or evening prayer at the same time ;-a regulation which makes it impossible to open the Churches to any purpose in country parishes on any other day than Sunday. We are not now discussing the propriety or impropriety of these and similar regulations ;-we are only asserting, that they tend to make the Church less popular than we wish it to be :--and when it is no-. torious, that no steps have been taken for the last two centuries to amend or improve its institutions, it is not unnatural that it should be taxed with indolence and indifference, and with thinking more of its dignity than of
II. Unpopularity, however, is not always a sure criterion of demerit;but we have now to notice some things in the present state of the Church, which are bad in themselves, independent of any effect which they may produce on public opinion. The Church of England is Exclusive ; and has in many instances provoked the separations from it, which it affects at once to lament and to condemn. This, in a national Church, is no light evil; inasmuch as it deprives a large portion of the people of the benefits of some most important public institutions; and, so far as the Government is the supporter of the Church, it makes a number of persons dissatisfied and discontented with the Government also. To be a public minister of religion must be an office sought after by some of the purest and best men in the country :--and it is to be lamented that any of this description should, without the clearest necessity, be forbidden to aspire to it. Nor can those