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ties, and clerical delinquencies took root and multiplied without check or inquiry, until wide tracts of population became a spiritual desert, or only yielded a chance harvest to the sectary and schismatic. The zeal which might have been husbanded for the Church's work ran to waste, or was alienated. Thus Methodism drained off energies which, if retained under Church influence, would have gone far to prevent the dismal estrangement which so largely pervades the lower middle class in town and country. The Church made no answer to the imploring hands held up to her. The parson of the parish, the magistrate, and the inob did severally what was right in their own eyes. And that right was alinost always a blunder or a crime. Beyond this, as regards the Houses of Convocation inter se, their uncertain and fitful intervals of session broke off the habit of action which guides the judgment by instincts formed through acting. Traditions of order, privilege, and mutual relation between the Upper and Lower House were lost, or became obsolete for want of adjustment. It is still only by delicate tact that collisions or complications can be avoided. There is no broadening chain of precedents, fortifying and interpreting one another. Such as exist are to be gleaned few and far between, and require frequent qualification to make them suit a modern instance. Not uncommonly one of the Houses stands at fault, and has to grope its way by uncertain analogies, or is arrested suddenly by the recollection of some rule or order not familiar to the majority. Such a state of things is fertile in misunderstandings, delays, and vacillations, and taxes human endurance very hard. Then there is the dual arrangement of the Northern and Southern Provinces, the unconformableness of which to the fused and united England which we have known for the last century is manifest in every attempt to popularize Church principles. Had Crown ministers done what their influence enabled them to do in keeping the clergy up to their legislative work, instead of compelling them to abandon it, this anomaly in modern England might have been long ago remedied by a fusion of the two Convocations into one representative body. What there is, even as matters stand, to prevent them from meeting as one body for deliberation and advice, and from voting jointly on one motion made and question put, it is not easy to see, unless it be some mediæval impossibility of either archbishop sitting under the other as president of the whole. This suggestion brings to our mind a valuable distinction mentioned by Professor Burrows in a note on page 29, between the Provincial Synod and the Convocation as one of the estates of the realm. We could wish, perhaps, he had put this a little more prominently. The same assembly of either province has
this two fold character: one in which it is a purely spiritual body summoned by its head, the archbishop; the other in which it is a body of mixed functions, an estate of the realm summoned by the Crown.
“Some bave advocated the separation of these two characters as an escape from the difficulties attending unique State interference, the reform of clerical representation, and the co-operation of bona fide lay Chirchmen. No opinion on this point is offered here. Time and circumstances will show.'
Time and circumstances' have certainly shown that the revival of Convocation by summons of the Crown is a step from which all statesmen seem to shrink, as one which is out of the march of modern politics even when proceeding under influences the most friendly to the Church which can be expected. The precedent of lethargy seems fatally binding on all alike. Those who shrink not from a leap in the dark 'on a question of firstrate constitutional importance have no hopes or fears to impel them to run any risk in the interests of the Church. Constitutional rights, solemn guarantees, the coronation oath itself, are to them but cobwebs spun upon the rafters of the Jerusalem Chamber. The Church is competent then to fall back upon her inherent powers as a spiritual body, among which unquestionably lies the fusing at her own discretion her two synods into one. The saine principle could apply to the fusion of the bishops aud clergy into one jointly deliberative body in each Provincial Synod. If it be hopeless to effect this, a joint committee of the two synods might surely be easily constituted, consisting of an equal number of each and a due proportion, equal also in each, of bishops, dignified, and pastoral clergy. This committee would know the tempers and interests of the synodical bodies who delegated them, and inight prepare matters for deliberation with a fair prospect of their recommendations being accepted. A large proportion of miscarriages, delays, disappointments and references to and fro, between two synodical bodies consisting each of two distinct Houses, might probably be thus avoided. The Committee might continue its deliberations between the sessions of the synodical bodies to any length which circumstances might require, might watch with a timely eye the proceedings of Parliament, and have useful relations in various ways with all the voluntary organizations for the spiritual interests of the Church. We are not sure that even the two Convocations might not resort to such a machinery without contravening any law. But we fear that no such joint committee could continue to sit as such, after the Convocations which had deputed it were themselves prorogued.
As an example of the mockery to which the inevitable complications of the present state of things reduce the authority and influence of our existing Convocations, let us take the speech, as reported, of the Bishop of London in the debate on the Ritualist Commission, on July 8th. (Churchman, July 11th.)
*For his part he heartily approved of such a body as Convocation in its present state, and he wished to point out to the noble Earl (Lord Shaftesbury), whơ thought it so objectionable that it should be consulted, that he need not attach such importance to its due consultation as he appeared to do. There must, in fact, be some unreality in these references to Convocation, for Convocation bad assumed a very different position now from what it had occupied in former times. We were in the habit of talking about “Convocation," but in point of fact it should be “ Convocations.” The Convocations of Ireland had indeed slumbered since the Union. That of York had in ihe same way slept till it was resuscitated by the most reverend Primate who presided over the Northern Province; and it was now no longer content to be the humble dependant of Canterbury. There bad been days when the Primate of the Nor: hern Province coutested the supremacy with the Primate of the Southern ; and though thise times bad passed away, there had grown up a feeling that the Convocation of York was entitled to be consulted in this matter. But this made a very material ditf-rence. It might have been easy to pass a bill through the Jerusalem Chamber, but if it had to be referred to a Provincial Synod in the North, and receive the assent of butu its Houses, as well as the Provincial Synod in the South, and receive the assent of both its Houses, very great delay must be the result. For instance, it had been thought right by the late Government to refer to Convocation a very simple but important question-namely, a new canon, to enable a parent to be sponsor to his own child
bad passed away, and be thought the matter was settled; but suddenly sme hitch occurred in the Northern Convocation ; the canon went backwards and forwards, and now, he believed, there was less chance of its being passed than there was five years ago.'
Any one would suppose, from the statement of the speech, that five years had been consumed in fruitless deliberations. The speaker at any rate wholly omitted to call attention to the fact that in each year the Northern Convocation's session lasted less than a week, and was sometimes limited to three days! Of course, under such circunstances, even with telegraphic wires at the archbishop's elbow, deliberation, which should issue in a joint decision, would be impossible between two bodies sitting in York and London. But, under the ordinary conditions of postal communication, and much more of personal attendance of delegates with instructions, the whole time of session would be swallowed up by a couple of transits either way.
That a business which might be despatched in a fortnight of continuous attention should be kept trailing about for five years, is a perfectly natural consequence of the existing arrangements, and even that, being so kept for five years, it should, owing to that 'tide in the affairs of men' of which we all
know, at last drop through. The clergy are held up as hopeless encumbrances to legislation because they do not overcome the physical laws of time and space. They are required to deliberate through two stone walls, and across two hundred miles of country, and to despatch, under pressure, in less than a week, amidst a host of other important questions, what the Lords and Commons discuss and settle at their own time. These conditions are quietly assumed as a necessary part of their organization, and because they break down under these conditions, they are held up to public compassion, if the report be true, by one of their own body, as incapables. The House of Lords, who complain so much and so justly of the ugly rush of bills upwards from the Commons in the last weeks of the session, ought, of all bodies, to be the last to entertain such depreciatory remarks concerning the Convocations.' Lord Shaftesbury had been blowing bubbles of apprehension from his place in the House, regarding the possible coordinate authority, supreme authority, or subordinate authority' of Convocation, in relation to Parliament. The Bishop of London quietly assures him that all possible references to Convocation may be safely pooh-poohed, and that (such are the words ascribed to him) 'he, for his part, heartily
approved of the existence of such a body as Convocation in its present state.' We should be glad to know whether the words italicised are a real part of what was uttered. If it be in the power of language to
• Assent with civil leer, And without sneering teach the rest to sneer,' then certainly those words, in connexion with their context, convey that power in a stronger degree than any which we have lately read. They are certainly the words of a candid friend' to the Church and her institutions; but we would gladly believe that they were not the words of one of her bishops in his place in Parliament, even though engaged in pouring balm on the troubled spirit of Lord Shaftesbury.
As regards the subject matter of the canon itself, the alteration of which was proposed to the two Convocations, we have to correct a serious misstatement of the fact which really caused the delay complained of. The two Convocations had in fact come to an agreement, when one point in the newly formed canon--the use, we believe, of the word capax in describing a sponsor—was objected to by the law officers of the Government. The Southern Convocation modified the proposed canon by altering this word. The Northern body thought that the alteration, out of mere deference to a Crown lawyer, of what had been solemnly agreed to by both Synods, savoured too
much of deference and too little of resoluteness, and declined to
The Bishop of London, as reported, dwells solely upon this—some hitch occurred in the Northern Convocation and wholly omits to state that the hitch was caused by the Crown. Five years is no doubt a long time for a Bishop to carry in his mind the facts; but it is matter of regret that he should just forget so much as would have vindicated the clergy, and just remember so much as would cast obloquy upon them. The state in which the matter at present rests is this, the Lower House of Canterbury have voted an address desiring abstinence from any change in this (the xxixth) canon, until a committee appointed to examine the canons of 1603 as a whole shall have reported.
This directly suggests the important question of reform in the constitution of Convocation itself. To await for the concur
or countenance of any possible Government is to wait ad Græcas Kalendas, and to imitate the fatuity of the abovementioned arrangements, by virtue of which a question goes swinging annually to and fro from one deliberative body to another, without ever finding the opportunity of being adequately discussed. The late Government stated officially to the Archbishop of Canterbury that 'they could not safely or
properly be advised that any alteration in the present consti'tution of Convocation can be legally effected without the ' authority of Parliament.' This was exactly what might be expected of the late, the present, or any other possible Government. It expresses the rooted determination on the part of the secular power to hug every obstacle, and keep intact every encumbrance which the antiquated machinery of three centuries ago affords them, in order to perpetuate the helplessness of the spirituality. The Synods of the Church are considerably older than Parliament, the Convocation is at least as old as Parliament in its crudest and most inceptive form. It retains all its privileges, save that of passing canons without the king's licence, which it had before the Reformation. These are simply inherent in it, and cannot be touched save indirectly in the way of persecution, by any external power whatever. For any precedent of the constitution of Convocation being affected by any temporal statute of the realm, it would be in vain to search. A considerable number of minor alterations, involving on the whole a large element of change, are cited by Mr. Joyce as having from time to time taken place without any action whatever, either of Parliament or the Crown; and no change on a large scale has ever been hitherto contemplated. We will enumerate the cases in point from Mr. Joyce's speech (Guardian, June 19th, Supplement, p. 674).