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sermons; cheapness, which deteriorates the former, not being the recommendation of the latter. Competition in trade and competition in divinity ought to have very different results. Those who are paid beforehand for their goods can afford their customers better stuff. If the duties of the clergy have increased so much, how is it that they find leisure for secular employments? Nearly one fourth of the whole magistracy of the kingdom is in holy orders, though in some of the counties there are few or no clerical magistrates. If these - ecclesiastics are above the lowest level of theology required by their station, the surplus is lost to their flocks; if below it, are these men fit to enforce obedience upon others, who have set so bad an example of it in themselves? The union of functions, so discordant and incompatible, is unknown in the Kirk of Scotland, or in any other church but that of England : the sword of justice is not seen in the hands of the priest ; nor does the same voice whisper consolation to the dying penitent, and thunder out the terrors of the treadmill on the devoted head of the poacher and the vagrant. Such anomalies would not have been tolerated in England, if the bishops had paid more attention to those below them, and less to those above them ; if lay patronage had not been permitted to convert a public trust into a beneficial interest to its holders; and the church become an asylum for the foris-familiated cadets of good families. We have at last got rid of rotten boroughs; and are rotten advowsons to remain ? We have purified and extended the elective franchise ; are church livings still to be matter of sale and barter? A seat in St. Stephen's is no longer to be purchased ; why should the pulpit be put up to auction ? Borough property has been abolished, yet school-patronage is still a family provision. Is the spiritual welfare of the country less important than its political independence ? Are our representatives to be chosen by ourselves, and our pastors by others? Is it tyranny to be taxed by another's nominee, and justice to be tithed by him ? Is Old Sarum no longer to be a byword and a reproach, and the congé d'élire to remain a farce and an insult? It is high time that the bishops should be truly overseers, and open their own eyes before they attempt to stop the mouth of the gainsayer. Let them imitate the conduct of the Saxon church, a decree of which (as we are informed by the Christian Remembrancer, an orthodox periodical) cautions parents and guardians, on account of the increased exigency of the times, against allowing their children or wards to enter upon clerical studies, unless they evince a decided aptitude for them ; warns all parties that an increasing severity of examination is become requisite, and sets forth, that where there exist such abundant opportunities for selection among the candidates, nothing but merit can secure admission into the Saxon church. We may infer from this, that there is little nepotism, that there are few fat livings, and no golden prebends, in the Saxon church.
It is singular that the poverty of the church exposed it formerly to the same contempt which its wealth has now brought upon it.
“ Ministers with the papists,” (i. e. the Priests,) says Selden, “have much respect ; but with the Protestants, they have very little. The reason whereof is, in the beginning of the Reformation, they were glad to get such to take livings as they could procure by any invitation—things of pitiful condition. The nobility and gentry would not suffer their sons or kindred to meddle with the Church ; and, therefore, at this day, when they see a parson, they think him to be such a thing still, and there they will keep him and use him accordingly: if he be a gentleman, that is
singled out, and he is used the more respectfully.” To be despised of men, however, is the lot of those whose calling is not of this world ; and it is to be remembered, that the respect of the rich neither implies nor secures the performance of spiritual duties. That there were no clerical magistrates in those days is evident, both from the little influence and wealth in the possession of churchmen, and from what Selden himself says in another passage :-" There never,"
says he, since the fairies left dancing and the parsons left conjuring. The opinion of the latter kept them in awe, and did as much good in the country as a justice of the peace.” Hence, we may conclude, that a parsonconjurer was then no magistrate, as the parson-magistrate is now no conjurer. It is plain, too, that the clergy were not despised by the people. They were, indeed, their best friends; an additional reason why they were not in favour with “the nobility and gentry.” Matters are strangely altered since these days. Tithes have risen, and the Church has fallen with the improvement of agriculture. A corresponding change has taken place in the impressions made by this shield of the monarchy, on those who view it from the opposite stations. The spectators have changed sides and are ready to come to blows; because, what is affirmed to be gold by the one, is declared by the other to be brass, or some baser metal. The clerical magistracy has given fresh strength to these feelings. Both the attachment and the hostility have been increased by the same incident,--the subserviency which has elicited the one, having naturally exasperated the other ; for power is generally employed in the interest of those with whom its appointment and control rest.
This assumption of incompatible characters imposes upon the performer a task, to fail, or to succeed in which, is equally distasteful to the audience : while he attempts to be “at home” in both, he can “please” in neither.
Lord Henley's pamphlet on Church reform has excited no little sen. sation, both among the friends and the enemies of religion as by law established ; and, though far from meeting the exigencies of the case, may be fairly considered as the sign of that more effectual remedy which the suggestion of a moderate measure implies or excites. What will the lords say to the noble author's candour or imprudence? The distinction between the rights of private and corporate property is here fairly acknowledged. Had such an admission come from such a quarter ten years back, the Conservatives (so called, ut parca quia non parcit) would have sent Dr. Haslam or Sir G. Tuthill to reason with his Lord. ship. The noble author is a very amiable person, as the servile imitators of patrician affectation would say; but he is lamentably ignorant of human nature. “ Set a thief to catch a thief,” may be a good police maxim; yet we may reasonably doubt whether prelates and church patrons are the best guardians of those interests which prelacy and patronage have sacrificed to the spirit of nepotism and corruption. Their disqualification is to be found in the very abuses which they are required to correct. Their ignorance is as culpable as their connivance, and they are accessaries to the crime, whether they have permitted its commission or partaken of its profits. What Selden says of synods is equally applicable to all mixed assemblies, whether councils, convocations, or commissions. “ There must,” he says, in his Table-talk, “ be some laymen in the synod, to overlook the clergy, lest they spoil the civil work ; just as when the good woman puts a cat into the milk-house to kill a mouse, she sends her maid to look after the cat, lest the cat should eat up the cream,” What is the good woman, to do if the maid is as
fond of cream as the cat ? Lord Henley would abolish episcopal translations, and yet leave the archbishoprics as great prizes in the ecclesi. astical lottery, the tickets in which are still to be insured by subser. viency; and, as if this suggestion were not sufficiently preposterous, the commission he recommends to be thus composed of bishops and the highest state functionaries, is to be under the control of the legislature; i. e, those who have an interest in the communion between Church and State are to be responsible to those who have an interest in their separation; for, if the united empire is really to be represented in the House of Commons, the majority of its members will be returned by the dissenters. The monopoly which an exclusive sect now enjoys will thus be destroyed; and the “God of his idolatry” will fall by the very means which are to be employed to purify his worship and confirm his power. If the commission performs its duties honestly and effectually, the representative body will strike at the politico-spiritual principle; if it neglects them, at the practice. Whether Alma Mater recovers her health, or continues to suffer under the maladies which afflict her ; whether she fall into the hands of quacks, or good and true” physicians, the divorce is inevitable. Her beauty and her deformity will be equally fatal to her.
It is somewhat singular that no notice is taken in this pamphlet Church reform,” of the clerical magistracy; a practice which has done so much harm to religion and justice, by combining in the same individual the administration of the one with the duties of the other. Is the omission to be attributed to a fear of offending the aristocracy, or to a notion that the system has produced neither injury nor complaint ? If it be the latter, the author has paid little attention to parochial grievances, or has turned a deaf ear to the voice that has so long and so loudly proclaimed them. Amid the great diversity of opinions which prevail on the subject of the poor laws, the conviction is almost unanimous, that the greater part of those evils which their mal-administration has brought upon the country, is to be traced to the interference of the magistrates. “ I have always thought, from observation, [says Walker on Pauperism, second edition, p. 64,] that the right of appeal to the magistrates was the sole cause of whatever alienation existed between the payers of rates and the labouring classes.” Is it right that the spiritual pastor should thus be placed in collision with his flock? If the magistrate attend the vestry as a clergyman, he will appeal to him.. self against himself; if the clergyman declines attending as a magistrate, one of the checks to parochial misgovernment is removed, and the natural protector of the poor withdraws his support when its aid is most wanted, and its absence is most resented. The rate-payers are offended if the judgment is reversed ; and the rate-receivers, if it is confirmed. The respect of the one, or the affection of the other, is necessarily shaken by this dilemma ; the “ stern command of authority” is substituted for the “ milder voice of influence ;” and the “ strong enforcement,” which the “ gentleness” of persuasion would have secured, is lost in reluctant obedience to the terrors of the law. This is but one among the many inconsistencies and anomalies which spring from the union of the secu. lar and spiritual functions. Apply to society what is here seen in the individual, and the ill effects of an erroneous principle upon the action of the body politic may be anticipated, from a consideration of the complexity of its structure and the magnitude of its extension.
We are continually reminded of the sin of schism by those whose
conduct justifies the separation of which their predecessors set the example. “ They who talk so much of sects and divisions," says Locke, in his third letter on Toleration, “ would do well to consider, too, whether those are not most authors and promoters of sects and divisions, who impose creeds, and ceremonies, and articles of men's making ; and make things not necessary to salvation the necessary terms of com. munion ; excluding and driving from them such as, out of conscience and persuasion, cannot assent and submit to them, and treating them as if they were utter aliens from the Church of God.”.
."* If spiritual truth may be the proper subject of legislative enactment, why is physical truth excluded from its benefits? Why have we not a Newtonian hierarchy, or a Hunterian creed? Why should not the body be cured, as well as the soul saved, by act of Parliament ? We might then, in case of accidents or sickness, consult an authorized surgeon, or an orthodox physician, and show our respect for the constitution of the State while we are taking care of our own.
The sentiments of Robert Hall, upon this subject, are remarkable for their truth, and the force with which they are expressed, that no apology need be offered for the length of the quotation. “ Happy had it been, had civil establishments of religion been useless only, instead of being productive of the greatest evils. But, when Christianity is established by law, it is requisite to give the preference to some particular system ; and, as the magistrate is no better judge of religion than others, the chances are as great of his lending his sanction to the false as to the true. Splendour and emoluments must likewise, in some degree, be attached to the National Church ; which is a strong inducement to its ministers to defend it, be it ever so remote from the truth. Thus error becomes permanent; and that set of opinions which happens to prevail when the establishment is formed, continues, in spite of superior light and improvement, to be handed down, without alteration, from age to age. Hence the disagreement between the public creed of the church and the private sentiments of its ministers ; an evil growing out of the very nature of an hierarchy, and not likely to be remedied, before it brings the clerical character into the utmost contempt. Ilence the rapid spread of infidelity in various parts of Europe ; a natural and never-failing consequence of the corrupt alliance between Church and State. Wherever we turn our eyes, we shall perceive the depression of religion is in proportion to the elevation of the hierarchy. In France, where the establishment had obtained the utmost splendour, piety had utterly decayed ; in England, where the hierarchy is less splendid, more remains of the latter ; and in Scotland, whose national church is one of the poorest in the world, a greater sense of religion appears among the inhabitants than in either of the former. It must likewise be plain to every observer, that piety flourishes much more among the Dissenters than among the members of any establishment whatever. This progress
* “ Such men,” says Jeremy Taylor, “ would do well to consider whether or not such proceedings do not derive the guilt of schism upon them who least think of it ; and whether of the two is the schismatic-be that makes unnecessary, and (supposing the state of things) inconvenient impositions, or he that disobeys them because he cannot, without doing violence to his conscience, believe them—he that parts communion, because he could not, without, entertain it or they that have made it necessary for him to separate by requiring such conditions, which to no man are simply necessary, and, to his particular, are either sinful or impossible.”
of things is so natural, that nothing seems wanting in any country, to render the thinking part of the people infidels, but a splendid establishment. It will always ultimately debase the clerical character, and perpetuate, both in discipline and doctrine, every abuse."
This passage is placed at the head of an article upon «« Church Reform," in a recent number of the British Critic. The writer, after giving another extract from Hall's works, to the same effect, observes, “Whatever impression in favour of the Church may have been made upon the dissenting laity, it seems too certain that no abatement has taken place in the rancorous hostility, the perverse misrepresentation, the gross and scandalous misstatements even of the most respected dissenting ministers.” Tantæne animis celestibus iræ ? These are hard words, indeed! Are they well applied ? Is there not too much in them of what is emphatically propria humana generis—something more than the mere odium theologicum? Let us see what this reviewer says himself of his “ apostolical establishment." The following are his own words: "Without having recourse to exaggeration, we may safely say, that not one Bishop in five was appointed from proper motives, during the long period which elapsed between the administrations of Walpole and Liverpool. Under the administration of the Earl of Liverpool, the country and the Church were astonished, not less than delighted, to find Government employed, for the first time, in a conscientious disposal of its patronage.
Since the demise of that respected man things have gone on pretty much as they used to do, before his accession to power.” Again :—“The private patronage which exists to so large an extent in the Church of England (the Bishop of Peterborough, in his charge, July 1831, says,-" Three-fourths, at least, of the livings throughout the kingdom are in the hands of laymen”] is not an unmixed good. It leads, inevitably, to the preferment of many from private motives only; job after job has been left unexposed and uncondemned, out of tenderness for the individuals implicated; and who have been the gainers ? Not the Church ; for its greatest danger arises from the existence of such jobs; and its only safety is to be found in their correction.” We may be permitted to ask, whether these abuses are not inseparable from the system? While the Church is allied to the State, she must either be mistress or slave-in either case plectuntur Achivi ; whether Pope or Emperor be middle-man, the rack-rent is the sweat or the blood of the people. Whatever be the nature of the marriage articles, the pinmoney is paid by the people. The dower does not fall upon either of the contracting parties. After such an acknowledgment of the Church's corruptions, from one of the advocates of her excellence, a smile may fairly be indulged at his angry invectives against those, who, though non-conformists, may be presumed to have as great a regard for the spiritual welfare of their fellow-subjects as himself, and who, because non-conformists, are more consistent adherents to the Protestant Reformation, in opposing, than he in supporting, an establishment, the privileges of which are considered by all who belong to no party but that of truth and justice, as an infringement of its leading principles.
“ It is certain,” says the same critic, “that, originally, the people had a share in the selection of their clergy; and that bishops were elected by the clergy and people conjointly; and when we advert to all that has subsequently occurred respecting these matters, the reflection is mortifying and bitter. So incapable did men prove of using these noble privileges - so unfit was the Christian world for this scheme of self-government,