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receipts from a Canonry at Westminster, the Bishopric of Lincoln, the Deanery of St. Paul's, and the Bishopric of Winchester, were nearly a quarter of a million sterling, and that there is now a son of the Rev. George Pretyman, who enjoys a portion of the patronage of Lincoln Cathedral, it will be seen that Church patronage may be of great service to a family in the course of two or three generations.
We might instance the case of Bishop Brownlow North, of Winchester, with his near relative, the Rev. the Earl of Guildford, of St. Cross Hospital notoriety; but we pass this by to refer to that of Bishop Sparke of Ely. This prelate had two sons, both of whom are now living, and each of whom has, for upwards of thirty years, held a canonry of Ely, and two rectories. From these, one has received £130,380, the other, £114,307. And thus the list might be greatly extended; and it would include Archbishops Manners Sutton and Harcourt; Bishops Bagot, Maltby, Hampden, Sumner, and Villiers. Of the last we charitably say, de mortuis nihil nisi bonum, though the case of his son-in-law, the Rev. Edward Cheese, occurring as it did so recently, and not long before the excellent prelate's death, is one which grieves all good men. After these illustrations-which are only illustrations—with what feelings will the form of the consecration of a bishop in the Established Church be read ?-" Then the archbishop shall deliver him the Bible, saying, . . . . Be to the flock of Christ a shepherd, not a wolf, feed them, devour them not!”
Of the mode in which the patronage of deans and chapters is administered, any one may cull specimens ad nauseam, who will do what we have done,-search and compare the Clergy Lists, and wade through the prolix reports and tables of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. We have yet to speak of private patronage, and shall do so speedily. Meanwhile, let it be remarked that all the cases here referred to are but the natural outgrowth of the present system. Lord A. is not more guilty than Lord B., or Bishop C. than his brother of D. Each may be an estimable man in his own character and sphere, but he need be something more than a man not to exercise the power which the law and his position gives him. It is not denied that there have been some instances in which that power has been worthily employed, but these are the bright exceptions. Granted, that it is right and praiseworthy for a man to remember and aid the companions of his youth in school and college, or the children of his father's friends, with those who are nearly related to him : but we complain of, and protest against, such remembrance and aid being manifested in the shape of pecuniary reward for spiritual duties which the nominee may, or may not, be qualified to discharge. And still more do we protest against the conferring of high and holy offices as a reward for past political services, or as an inducement for such services to be rendered. This is a degradation and a prostitution of purely spiritual functions to temporal and party ends. We object, there
fore, to the existing system, because it is vicious in its administration.
Another reason is, Because it fosters a worldly spirit. This may be partly premised from what has been already stated, but it will bear further illustration. A clergyman, who possesses an influential family or political connection, is apt to live in a state of desire and expectancy for some of the good things which may fall vacant. The intrigue, sanctioned by custom, which it is needful to carry on, must exert an unhealthy influence upon his character and efforts. Such things are not conducive to vigorous, practical godliness, nor do they tend to raise the popular estimate of the sacred functions. Moreover, an inducement is held out to assume the office of a clergyman, more in the spirit of a professional man than from a desire to advance moral and spiritual interests. At his ordination, each clergyman is asked whether he is moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon himself the office of a Christian minister. Were it not for the solemnity of the subject, it would be curious and amusing to inquire into the signs by which such inspiration is determined. But we must not venture upon the topic. It must, however, be strange how many clergymen can preach from such passages of Scripture as “Love not the world;" “ Ye cannot serve God and Mammon;" “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of heaven;" and other passages of similar import. Priests and deacons promise, at their ordination, “by the help of the Lord, to give faithful diligence always to minister the doctrine and sacraments, and the discipline of Christ, as the Lord hath commanded ; and to teach the people, with all diligence, to keep and observe the commandments of God." Yet by nearly two thousand ministers who are pluralists, or non-residents, this promise is openly and deliberately violated; while it is to be feared, that by many more the promise is fulfilled in a perfunctory and formal manner. It is not to be denied that an important educational agency is being carried on by means of the thousands of Church of England pulpits; but it is not to be denied, either, that the amount and success of that agency are not at all commensurate to the immense wealth, the numbers, and the intelligence of the present Established Church. And while other causes have to be considered, there is no doubt that the spirit of worldliness, fostered by the system of patronage, does much to account for this manifest non-success.
The system is not justifiable. Because it is productive of fraud and perjury. These are strong terms, and we use them without designing any offence to Episcopalian readers. But if the following remarks be impartially considered, it will be perceived that no other terms would express the real state of the matter.
The bishops are nominated by the Crown, under the fiction of a congé d'élire, or licence, granted to the dean and chapter, empowering them to elect a bishop, which is accompanied by a letter missive, commanding them to elect a specified person. If this be not done within twelve days, the Queen can issue letters patent, ordering that such person be confirmed and consecrated. On receipt of the congé d'élire, the electors are summoned, and a solemn farce is gone through, immediately after morning prayer, resulting, of course, in the election of the person nominated by the Crown. In the event af refusal on the part of the dean and chapter, they are liable to a præmunire, which involves fine and imprisonment; and that no Government will brook such refusal is proved by the comparatively recent and well-known case of Dr. Hampden. But this is not all. On the death of a bishop, the palaces, glebes, manors, advowsons, and all the emoluments of the diocese, revert to the Sovereign, by whom they must be granted to his successor. To the royal closet the newly-elected bishop goes, and upon his bended knees, in token of submission, he sues for the temporalities, and takes the oath of homage, in which it is declared that the Sovereign is “the only supreme governor of the realm, as well in spiritual or ecclesiastical things as temporal ;” and concludes thus :-"I do acknowledge and confess to hold the bishopric, and the possessions of the same entirely, as well the spiritualities as temporalities thereof, only of your Majesty.” What a spectacle is presented! A Christian bishop in abject submission before an earthly monarch, supplicating worldly honour, and, in return, bartering away the freedom of his Church !
One of the canons commands the clergy“ to avoid the detestable sin of simony ;" and the statute law equally condemns any bargain and sale of a living. Yet it is notorious--every week reveals the fact--that this important trust is openly sold to the highest bidder. The law is evaded by a cunning contrivance, and the evasion, in process of time, has become legalized. The law is explained to prohibit the sale of a vacant benefice; and therefore the thing sold is usually the next presentation. This is the reason why the age of the incumbent is mentioned. Now, why is this breaking of the law not prevented ? Because it cannot be, without violating the rights of the patron. Moreover, before the admission or institution of a clergyman to his living, he has to take an oath that he has “made no simoniacal payment, contract, or promise, directly or indirectly, by himself, or any other, to his knowledge, or with his consent, for “procuring” the living. Yet there are hundreds of advowsons sold every year; but the bargain is made, not by the clergyman, but by his friend or attorney.
And what a fearful illustration of the subject under consideration is afforded by the existing state of parties in the Church, divided, as it commonly is, into High, Broad, and Low; or, as some wittily define them, more sharply perhaps than truly, attitudinarians, latitudinarians, and platitudinarians. Here is presented to the world the monstrous spectacle of thousands of clergymen, acknowledging the same temporal head, ordained by the same bishops, using the same ritual, bound by the same canons, and swearing to the same articles of faith, yet at the antipodes of religious opinion, suspecting and anathematizing each other. Surely, some must have received the articles in a non-natural sense, and then dishonestly
remain in a communion with which they have no sympathy, and subsist upon revenues to which they have no moral right. The well-known story of Theodore Hook, who, being asked on one occasion, whether he was prepared to subscribe to the Thirty-nine Articles, replied, “O yes; and forty, if you please,” is very suggestive on this point. It is no infraction of that meek-eyed charity, which “hopeth all things," to say, that probably many of the can. didates for episcopal ordination are not particular to a shade as to the number or the nature of the articles to which they subscribe. Even a passing visitor to our university towns cannot fail to hear and see things, which need not be referred to particularly, but which are certainly not sound and healthy preparations to the exer. cise of clerical functions. The subject is a very painful one; but it could not be overlooked. This is one of the natural products of the system of patronage, for unity of faith and practice cannot be secured even in those who minister at the same altar. And if a clergyman cannot secure ordination from one bishop, because of his “views," he can from another, perhaps in the very next diocese; while, if any bishop refuse to present him, should he be nominated to a living, the patron can bring an action for damages against the bishop, who must defend the action at his own expense-usually a costly and tedious procedure, and, therefore, rarely done.
We might, in this connection, refer to the evils of non-residence; to the disgraceful pittance paid by well-to-do rectors to their curates -the “working clergy,” as they are often termed-and to the pluralists who yet exist and thrive; but we forbear, partly for want of space, and partly because of the exceeding painfulness of the subject. Church writers, of all sections, have united in condemning, in strong terms, the evils of which we complain. Take this, from the Christian Observer, as a specimen :-“ With respect to the evils resulting from the present administration of patronage, it is impossible to speak in terms of too great regret. It is not even pretended, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, that either a private or an official patron seriously sets himself to look out for the person best qualified for an appointment. It is quite sufficient that the friend whom he wishes to oblige is not legally or scandalously incompetent.” Or this, from the Record :-" It is not to be denied that patrons commonly regard the livings in their gift as so many oppor tunities of conferring a favour upon those who are connected with them by relationship or interest. In the one case it is a commodious house; in another, a pleasant neighbourhood; in a third, good society; in others, the ample and gentlemanly income, which is supposed to constitute the attraction.” Or this, from the Guardian :-" The interested claims of patrons have been again and again noticed in our columns as serious obstacles to church extension, and discouragements to munificence in its promotion.” Or this, from the English Churchman:-“ We could almost be thankful to Lord John Russell and Dr. Hampden that they have called up from the realm of shadows all the lies, and hypocrisies, and mock. eries—all the profanities and wickedness which exist under the awful name of law-all the scandal and absurdity which attend every step of a bishop's appointment."
With one more reason we conclude. We object to the present system of patronage,- Because it is a gigantic obstacle to the spread of the Gospel. The term, “political Dissenters," is often applied with opprobrium to such as venture to point out the evils and wrongs of a State Church; but it must be remembered, that if there were no political Churchmen, there could be no political Dissenters. The sword is a two-edged one, and it can be used most effectively in retaliation. But, after all, the chief reason why even the “ political Dissenters" object to the existing arrangement is, that it is a fatal hindrance to the spread of pure and undefiled religion. And many earnest, godly members of the Episcopal Church are now of the same opinion. The question is not, whether the particular form of Church polity is scriptural or constitutional. That question may be completely set aside in this discussion. The evils would be the same, if Presbyterianism, or Independency, or Methodism, or any other form of discipline, were the endowed and favoured sect. Our complaint is, that the existing machinery is incongruous. Secular and political means are employed to attain spiritual ends. We believe that much of the practical irreligion and the manifest indifference of the masses, as the phrase is, are traceable to the absurdities and errors embodied in the State Church; and of these the system of patronage is not one of the least. It affords no guarantee that our densely populated towns shall be provided with clergymen of talents and powers suitable for such important spheres. An actively disposed man may have his living in a small village ; a retired and studious man may have his in the midst of a teeming and restless population. One with the attainments of a scholar, and the abilities of a public disputant, may be settled among a stagnant rural population; while another, quiet and shrinking, may be fixed in a city where scepticism is rife, and the truth of the doctrines of Christianity openly challenged. Even in the case of district churches, erected chiefly, and maintained solely, by voluntary contributions by the worshippers, the law jealously guards the “rights” of the rector of the parish in which such district church is situate. Several cases have come under our own observation, where the wishes of the attendants have been wholly disregarded and set at nought, the bishop of the diocese refusing to institute the minister chosen by the people, because of the interference of the rector. And, generally speaking, such interference has sprung from no other feeling than pique or jealousy. Further, in not a few instances, evangelistic efforts have been forbid. den, in a spirit of selfish exclusiveness, by indolent or incompetent ministers, who would not permit any of their brethren to labour occasionally in their parishes. In the eye of the law, these are regarded as spiritual preserves, the exclusive property of one man, and no poaching is allowed without his permission. The interests