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form was known. The usages of that period have given rise to the phrase“ The Free Church of Ancient Christendom." Bishops, presbyters, and deacons were the subjects of popular choice or ratification. But early in the fourth century, encroachments began to be made. The first innovators upon the ancient rights of the people were the hierarchy, During the fourth and the fifth centuries, the popular choice was gradually restricted, until the mere shadow remained. In the sixth century, the Emperor Justinian, who had constituted himself ecclesiastical tinker-general, promulgated a law, cutting off the common people from any concern in these elections, which were confined to the clergy and superior persons. Then it became the custom to consult kings as to the fitness of candidates for the episcopal office. The custom eventually assumed the force of right, and was claimed as part of the prerogative, so that others had little else to do but to accept the royal nominations.
To encourage the building of places of worship in country places, the founder of any church was allowed to exercise the right of nominating the minister. This privilege was at first limited to the bishops, but was soon extended to the laity. These laws and usages were adopted by the Anglo-Saxon Church. The right of nomination to the higher offices was conceded to the Saxon kings, as a matter at first of policy, and afterwards of necessity. When the clergy and the Church submitted to become dependents upon the bounty of the State for their income, they had no alternative but to surrender, in return, some at least of their former liberties. Becoming servants, they ceased to be free to choose their overseers.
Henceforward the history of Church patronage in England became one of mutual struggles for rights and privileges on the part of kings and popes, the clergy and the people. The sole question at issue in this struggle was the question of supremacy; the stake was generally the money value of the benefices. During the earlier period of this momentous war-for such, with respect both to the interests of religion and of liberty, it became--the clergy were the victors. They regarded Christianity simply as an ecclesiastical system, and patronage as a means of gain or mode of reward. Any assertion of independence, on the part either of churches or their founders, was accordingly suppressed with prompt and decisive vigour.
Soon after the Norman Conquest, the system of “ appropriation” was devised by the Norman prelates, in order to oppress the English clergy. So successful were the means adopted, that in 300 years more than one-third of the benefices in England, and those the richest, were “ appropriated” by bishops, monks, colleges, and corporations, leaving to the parochial clergy the barest pittance for their support and the celebration of worship. These gross abuses, with the crying evil of the appointment of so many foreign priests by the Pope, were the prelude to the fierce struggle between A'Becket and Henry II. The pretensions of the Romish Pontiffs to
the right of patronage to all livings whatever, worked a stout spirit of resistance (A.D. 1232-9), with which all readers of English history are familiar. The contest was waged with varying success until the reign of Edward III., by whom the right of election to vacant bishoprics was restored to the chapter, on royal licence. Still, benefices were everywhere a matter of sale and barter. The very nomenclature of the time is significant. A church was a “benefice" (good thing), or a “living.” Her teachers, preachers, exhorters, and evangelists, were “rectors” (persons holding the right to tithes), “vicars” (the vicarious representatives of the rector), and “prebendaries," or holders of prebends or stipends.
When the Reformation took place, the monasteries and other religious houses were everywhere the possessors of the best Church benefices.* The suppression of these houses made an alteration in the distribution of the patronage which they possessed. At their dissolution, the appropriations of the livings which belonged to them would have been, by the rules of common law, disappropriated, had not a clause been inserted to give them to the king. Henry the Eighth's disposal of them was only in harmony with the received opinions of the age. Some were retained for the Crown, a few were sold, but the majority were given to the parasites of the Court. These were the first lay impropriators. Their successors are still patrons of the livings thus obtained through royal generosity. The laymen proved to be worse appropriators than the monks. Complaints abounded of the poverty of the clergy, and of the lack of means of worship. Things continued thus until the accession of Elizabeth, by whom the bonds were strengthened; and henceforward the history of patronage is a detail of the misery, degradation, and pollution to which the Established Church was subjected. From Elizabeth's threat to “impeach” a bishop for refusing to part with a portion of his ecclesiastical estates, to the bestowal of bishoprics by the mistresses of kings, it is a history of ecclesiastical prostitution, such as no age of the world has paralleled. Bishops, who from pastors in the times of apostolic Christianity, had become warrior-princes in the middle ages, now became courtiers, sanctioning, by their presence, all the vices of the Court. Clergymen were pluralists, non-residents worse, they were fox-hunters, drunkards, and gamblers !† Good Bishop Ken, in his. “Expostulations," written in the last century, depicts a sad and disgraceful state of things; and it now remains to be seen whether the more recent administration of patronage has been such as to justify the system of which we have sketched the history.
To a certain extent, this question is involved in the larger question of the union of Church and State which was discussed in Vol. I. of the British Controversialist. But confining ourselves,
* Burnet's “ History of the Reformation,” i. 22.
as much as possible, to the specific subject, we maintain that the present system is not justifiable, for the following reasons, among others :
1. Because it is opposed to the genius of Christianity.--"My kingdom is not of this world," said our Lord; and during His life on earth, He never courted the smiles, or sought the patronage, of its great ones. The apostles, chosen by Himself, were, for the most part, unlearned and ignorant men ; and probably the seventy disciples, commissioned for a special and temporary purpose, were of a similar character. Again and again did He inculcate upon His ministers lessons of humility, enforcing those lessons by His own example. He would not gratify Herod's curiosity, neither would He permit the people to execute their intention of making Him a king. Throughout His earthly career, there seems to have been a careful avoidance of ordinary and human motive to ensure success. There was no flattery of the great; there was no attempt to smooth down the rougher angles of truth: there was no connivance at national vices and errors; there was no encouragement held out to ambition, and worldliness, and pride.
In early apostolic times, a similar spirit. prevailed. Peter and John, Paul and Barnabas, with their zealous coadjutors, were content to rest their claims for the Gospel upon the basis which their Divine Master had provided. No disposition was manifested to temporize, or to adopt a worldly policy. “In labours more abundant" those noble men were found, “hazarding their lives” in the work ; but they never dreamed of soliciting the patronage of the civil power, nor did they think of asking its sanction in the appointment of bishops and deacons. This was a solemn, spiritual act, attended with “the laying on of the hands of the presbytery." Gentleness, patience, studiousness, aptitude to teach, and a holy and blameless life, were the chief requirements in the officers of the apostolic Church. Pride, self-will, anger, brawling, love of wine, and greed of filthy lucre, were forbidden; and any persons manifesting such would have been deemed disqualified for the office, or, if in possession of it, would have been instantly removed.
Now we affirm that, in opposition to all this, is the system of patronage in the Established Church. “His Grace the Archbishop," ** My Lord the Bishop,” “Right Reverends," “ Venerables," and other Church dignitaries, have become such, and assume these titles, not from any Scripture warrant, or in close imitation of holy apostles, and of the noble army of martyrs, but by virtue of authority conferred by the State.
It is a notorious and scandalous thing that, in hundreds of instances, the pre-requisites for obtaining a “cure of souls,” are not piety, oratorical talents, love for the work, or even a high order of intelligence. As we shall have to remark, again and again, the existing system allows and provides for the exercise of favouritism and barter, while the best interests of men are neglected, or only regarded in a secondary light.
The preceding remarks will be confirmed and illustrated by the second reason, which we now assign :-Because the system is vicious in its administration. So many proofs of this exist, that it is difficult to make a selection. Look, for example, at the manner in which bishops are appointed. We have already stated that vacant sees are filled up, nominally, by the Crown, but really by the Premier. Now, as soon as a vacancy occurs, all kinds of political and family influences are brought to bear by and in behalf of the numerous aspirants. As a rule, a Tory Premier appoints Tory bishops, while a Whig Premier appoints Whig bishops. It would be somewhat amusing, yet more humiliating, to be informed what strings are pulled, and by whom, in these episcopal appointments. We suppose that the Evangelical party in the Church are well content with those made under Lord Palmerston's government; while the other parties in that Church must be, in a corresponding degree, annoyed and irate.
So with all the higher oflices. They are considered as so many golden plums, wherewith to reward faithful partisans, or to secure wavering friends. Thus a mighty instrument of state-craft has been fashioned, of which successive administrations have made effective use. It is a fact patent to everybody, that these clerical Livings and dignities are used in the same way, and for the same ends, as appointments in the army, the navy, and the civil service. The large amount of patronage at the disposal of the Lord Chancellor is dispensed on the same principle. Needy younger sons, nephews, cousins, and friends of his own family, and those of his personal and political connections, form a clamorous and greedy host of applicants. In Twiss's “Life of Lord Eldon” (vol. i. 389), there are two or three letters from this celebrated Chancellor, which throw a curious light on the difficulties as well as the secrets of this branch of political Church patronage. The following occurs in a letter written (Sept. 8th, 1801) not quite five months from the time of the Lord Chancellor's appointment:-“ From persons great and small I have had, I think I may almost say thousands of applications, most of them impudently framed, in effect, upon some such notion as that I cannot have any personal wishes in favour of, or a friend who has in any clergyman a friend in whose welfare he takes an interest. Many of these applications, however, come from persons whose weight throws much difficulty in my way, and more than I can easily remove. Besides this, in confidence be it spoken, the different branches of the royal family communicate their wishes, which are commands, that supersede even promises to others; and upon the whole, I do assure you, I have little elbowroom."
In April, 1827, Lord Eldon resigned his office. The exciting effect of this resignation on the whole clerical body may be imagined from the following: -“If I had all the livings in the kingdom vacant, when I communicated my resignation (for what since that falls vacant, I have nothing to do with), and they were cut each into
threescore livings, I could not do what is asked of me by letters received every five minutes, full of eulogies upon my virtues-all of which will depart when my resignation actually takes place and all concluding with 'Pray give me a living before you go out.'”
A man must be a paragon of all virtues who can long resist the great temptations of such an office. Besides, does not an inspired writer state, “If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel”? though the modern application of this sentence is undoubtedly opposed to its primary and contextual meaning. Yet, perhaps, it is not matter for surprise that successive Chancellors have proved themselves but men under such trying circumstances. To select only two modern instances :*—“Sir J. Sugden, in 1858, secured for the Hon. and Rev. F. Sugden, the vicarage of Hale Magna, population 1,008, value £810. Another relative, the Hon. and Rev. A. Sugden, received, in 1852, the rectory of Newdegate, population 614, value £353. And so, lastly, the Presbyterian Lord Campbell bestowed, in 1859, the rectory of Pattersham on his son-in-law, the Rev. W. A. Duckworth."
The administration of the episcopal share of the patronage is equally vicious. Some, perhaps, would say that it is more so. The value of a diocese is estimated socially, not only by the actual amount of the revenue, but also by the number and annual incomes of the various offices and livings which it includes. Of specific instances there are, unhappily, too many. The name of Pretyman is familiar to readers upon this subject. Dr. P. was Bishop of Lincoln, with an income of £8,280, and, at the same time, Dean of St. Paul's, with rather more than £7,000 attached-say, in all, £16,000 a year. But the Bishop had two sons, of whom one, the Rev. George P., died in 1860; the other, the Rev. Richard P., is still living, and hold. ing offices in the Church. The history of the first is. briefly this :For forty-six years a Canon of Lincoln, at £1,665; for the same period Chancellor and Perpetual Curate of Nettleham, at £535; also Rector of Wheathampstead, at £1,591; for forty-three years Rector of Chalfont, £804; and for thirty-five years he held a stall in Winchester Cathedral, of the value of £642. To all of these, excepting the last, he was appointed by his father the Bishop; and down to the time of his decease, his receipts could not have been less than £230,000. The history of the Rev. George P. 'is equally pleasant, so far as the good things of this life are concerned. He has been the fortunate recipient of about £200,000, as Canon of Lincoln, Preceptor and Rector of Kilsby, Rector of Walgrave, of Stoney, and of Wroughton. If it be added that there was once a John Pretyman, another son of the Bishop's, whose income at the time of his death was £2,900 per annum, that the Bishop's own
* In this and all the following cases, the relationships are taken from Lodge's “ Peerage and Baronetage" for 1861. They may be traced, in every instance, under the name of the peer.