Page images
PDF
EPUB

share it with rather unwelcome visitors, as we had scarcely seated ourselves, when Osman Pasha arrived, accompanied by thirty horsemen, on their way from Bagdad to greet the new Pasha of Kharpoot. These gentry made themselves at home without any ceremony, and soon procured forage for their horses, and food to satisfy their own hunger, either by fair means or by foul, from the unresisting Kurds. Osman Pasha was accommodated with the division of the Aga's tent next to ours, and every attention was lavished upon him, the Aga himself condescending to act as his servant. On hearing that some English gentlemen were in the tent, he sent and requested me to dine with him. It being Ramadan, he was punctilious not to break the fast by tasting food before the legal hour, and in order to do this, kept his eyes intently fixed on his watch, until the hand traversed the appointed limit. He then ate in good earnest, and after meals, the time of prayer having arrived, waiving all ceremony, he begged me to amuse myself, while he performed his devotions. A lesson this, thought I to myself, worthy the reflection of all Christians.

The Kurds at the encampment of Bektash Aga belong to a branch of the large Omanyâa tribe, well known in these parts.

Oct. 23.-Left Bektash Aga at five A.m., and continued our journey across the desert country. In three hours we forded the Devé Geteedi (camels cross-over), so named, because in winter it is only fordable by these animals. This stream takes its rise in the Karajah Dagh, and falls into the Tigris not far from Diarbekir.

(To be continued.)

Correspondence and Documents.

LAW OF THE AMERICAN CHURCH. Sir, I have read with very great pleasure the valuable and welltimed letter of your correspondent, F. H. D. in your last number. Earnestly, indeed, is it to be desired that the wholesome truths which it enounces may take effect before the time for action is past.

It is, however, with your correspondent's remarks on ecclesiastical law in the Colonies that I am principally concerned at present. I allude to the subject in order to introduce to the notice of your readers an interesting work by Judge Hoffman, an American lawyer, entitled, “ A Treatise on the Law of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States."

As I believe this to be the first attempt ever made to systematize the laws of our sister Church, and to place them upon their proper foundation, and as the ecclesiastical law of the United States is identical in its origin with that of our colonies, I trust that a description of Judge Hoffman's book will not be unacceptable to F.H.D. and your readers in general.

The Introduction (from p. 13 to p. 85) is designed to prove that the ecclesiastical law of England has an actual force and operation in the system of the American Church—to point out the extent of that operation, its limits and qualifications. In order to effect this object, the author enters at length into the history of the Colonial Church, shows that all members of the Church of England in the American Colonies were subject to the ecclesiastical law of England, except where it was expressly altered, or necessarily inapplicable, and proves how thoroughly the Colonial Church was pervaded with the spirit of the law, as well as of the faith and doctrine of the mother Church. Having thus established, by incontrovertible arguments, the identity of the Church of the Colonies with that of England, he proceeds to show that this identity was not destroyed by the American Revolution, but that the union of faith, of worship, and of discipline, continued unimpaired. Notwithstanding what some of his countrymen have imagined to the contrary, the Judge, as a lawyer, comes to the following conclusions :

1. The English canon law governs; unless it is inconsistent with, or superseded by, a positive institution of our own.

2. Unless it is at variance with any civil law or doctrine of the state, either recognised by the Church, or not opposed to her principles.

“ 3. Unless it is inconsistent with, or inapplicable to, that position in which the Church in these States is placed.”

The first chapter (from p. 88 to p. 178) describes the Constitution and General Convention of the American Church. The subject is first treated historically, and afterwards the articles of the Constitution are separately considered in a legal point of view, and with reference to various questions which, from time to time, have arisen.

The second chapter (from p. 178 to p. 223) treats of the Constitutions and Conventions of the several dioceses. In discussing the subject, the learned author lays down, as a fundamental principle, that " every limitation upon the original jurisdiction of a Bishop has been self-imposed, or bas sprung from the laws of councils of superior authority

, and to which he was a party; and that, therefore, in every case in which there is no express enactment, or legitimate conclusion from an enactment, to control it, the question is, where is the evidence of the surrender of the power to rule the Church ? If none can be produced, we have the Bishop's primitive jurisdiction to resort to for guidance and direction—a power without a shadow of claim to infallibility, but with an absolute claim to obedience.”

This important preliminary being settled, the qualifications of clerical and lay members of Diocesan assemblies are stated. On the subject of the union of the clergy and laity in such assemblies, Judge Hoffman remarks

“ In this we differ from the convocations of the English and

Scottish Church. Yet the principle which dictated it is found in the English decisions, exempting the laity from the obligation of canons passed without their assent by representation, and is sanctioned by no less an authority than Hooker, who says (Book VIII. p. 368), that in all societies, companies, and corporations, what severally each shall be bound unto, must be, with all their assents, ratified. As the laity should not hinder the clergy's jurisdiction, so neither is it reason that the laity's rights should be abridged by the clergy.'

“ And a trace of this principle is found in monarchical governments. It was pointed out by Lord Hardwick, in Middleton's case, how the assent of the Emperor to ecclesiastical regulations bound the people ; and Van Espen states the same rule.”

In considering the qualifications necessary to entitle a clergyman to a seat in a Diocesan Synod, the author states that two opinions exist in the American Church. The first would give a seat to every clergyman canonically resident within the Diocese.

The second would admit only those engaged in the oversight of a parish, and would exclude missionaries, professors, or instructors of youth. The author declares himself opposed to the latter opinion, chiefly because “it tends to weaken the clergy as a body in the Convention, to impair their independence, and to bring them under the control of the laity.” He adds, “ The imagination of undue priestly influence in our country is the wildest of fancies. The fact is, that the laity have almost absolute control over a clergyman, and they sometimes use it most mercilessly.”

As to the qualifications for lay-delegates, Judge Hoffman states that they differ in the different dioceses. Thus, in Virginia and Ohio, lay-delegates must be communicants; in New York, no one can be chosen as a delegate unless he is entitled to vote for wardens and vestry; in Pennsylvania, the delegate must have been for six months previously a worshipper in the church which he is to represent; in Massachusetts, he must be a stated worshipper in the parish.

The duties of the officers and committees of Diocesan Conventions are then described, e.g. of the presiding officer, the secretary, the treasurer, and the standing committee. In this section it is stated, that “ the right which existed in former ages of a full negative upon the act of any diocesan synod, has been by the consent of the Bishops of our Church, in almost all the dioceses, renounced. I know of but one partial exception to this. By the constitution of the Church in] Kentucky, should the Bishop express his disapprobation of any canon or resolution, it shall be returned to the Convention for reconsideration, when a majority of two-thirds of both orders shall be necessary for its adoption."

As to the standing committees, Judge Hoffman finds a precedent for them in cathedral chapters, and quotes a provision of the Council of Carthage: Ut Episcopus nullius causam audiat absque præsentiâ suorum clericorum." Yet it appears that in Maryland and Connecticut alone is the standing committee composed exclusively of clergymen, and in most cases it consists of an equal number of clergy and

laity. The lay members of this body are not necessarily communicants (except in four dioceses); and yet, where there is no Bishop in a diocese, the standing committee is the ecclesiastical authority. In this connexion, Judge Hoffman cites a canonist quoted by Bishop Stillingfleet : Episcopo mortuo naturaliter vel civiliter, capitulum succedit in jurisdictione tam spiritualium quam temporalium.'

Chapter III. (from p. 225 to p. 280) treats of parishes, their separation and division, and the organization of churches or congregations. Some of the American provinces were divided into parishes before the Revolution, and in those States these divisions prevail substantially to the present day. But owing to the great extent of country, this geographical demarcation has not yet become general in America. The author speaks of the regulations respecting the building of new churches-the incorporation of congregations under the civil laws--the election of wardens and vestry-the right over pews and vaults—the rights of the rector of the wardens and vestry—and of the mode of admitting a new parish into union with the diocesan convention.

Chapter IV. (from p. 279 to p. 319) begins with the election and institution of ministers, and proceeds to the subjects of parochial instruction, parish registers, episcopal visitation, and the use of the Book of Common Prayer. Under the last head, the Judge expresses his opinion, that “conformity to the Book of Common Prayer, and the Rubrics as part thereof, is as absolutely binding in our country upon every Clergyman, as it is in England under the Acts of Uniformity."

Chapter V. (from p. 321 to p. 381) treats of the canons respecting differences between ministers and their congregations—dissolution of the pastoral connexion-relinquishment of the ministry—and other topics of a similar character. In alluding to the Clergy Relief Bill, Judge Hoffman says,—“The opposition to it is the most extraordinary of all those late assaults which have struck alarm into the heart of the Church of England. To refuse her the power, which

every

denomination of Christians in the kingdom possesses and exercises, of driving utterly from her bosom her erring members, is the merest wantonness of intolerance. It is a startling proof of that untameable ferocity with which her enemies pursue her. The position of the law in our own Church is not free from embarrassment. Fortunately, the question is not entangled with any connexion with the law of the State.”

Chapter VI. (p. 383 to p. 480) treats of the penal law of the Church. After quoting the canon which provides that “ every Minister shall be amenable to the Bishop, and if there is no Bishop, to the clerical members of the standing committee,” the author states that now, after a long struggle, commencing in colonial times, the question has been finally settled of the exclusive liability of a Clergyman to a clerical tribunal. The question of “punishable offences” is then discussed, the modes of trial in the several dioceses described, as well as the nature of the sentences which

may be pronounced.

The discipline of the laity is next considered, which is shown to be substantially the same with that of the Church of England; but that several of the dioceses have adopted additional special regulations upon the subject. Thus, in Massachusetts," whenever the Bishop shall institute an inquiry on the subject of expelling a person from the Holy Communion, according to the Rubric and Canons of the General Convention, he shall summon a council of two presbyters and two laymen, of which he shall be president, to decide upon the case.”

Judge Hoffman declares himself in favour of the validity of the famous Virginia canon of 1850, which provides that discipline shall be exercised over the laity for “ gaming, attendance on horse-racing and theatrical amusements, witnessing immodest and licentious exhibitions or shows, attending public balls, habitual neglect of public worship, or a denial of the doctrines of the Gospel as generally set forth in the authorized standards of the Church.”

The mode of trying a Bishop is then described ; and lastly, the effect of an ecclesiastical sentence in the civil courts of America is placed in its true light.

The work concludes with the following just and striking sentences: "The ecclesiastical jurisdiction, in its legitimate sphere, that is, over ecclesiastical matters, must be upheld, or Christianity will become torpid. Let us not be affrighted from the support of discipline because of the harsh excesses with which it has sometimes been enforced. It is not made the less essential, because bigots and tyrants have employed the sword or the flames in its execution. A Church without discipline must become, if it be not already, a Church without religion. Some coercive and excluding power is indispensable, wherever faith in its integrity, or life in its purity, would be vindicated or sustained.”

Your obedient Servant,

HENRY CASWALL. Figheldean Vicarage, Feb. 4th, 1851.

STATE OF THE COLONIAL CHURCH.1

LETTER III.

SIR-I have endeavoured in my two former letters to point out some of the evils and dangers attendant on the present development of the Colonial Church, as well as the uncertainties and difficulties of the Ecclesiastical law regarding it.

These evils and these difficulties are, I fear, to be met by no half measures,—they render necessary an entire reconstruction of the ecclesiastical society ; in fact, to borrow the suggestion made by Mr. Gladstone during the last Session of Parliament, the Church must reconstitute itself on the principles of the mutual compact, principles, as I endeavoured to show last month, which supply the

1 Continued from p. 300.

D D

so. XLY.

« PreviousContinue »