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Canon Trevor wrote to say that the Lower House in the Northern Province had undergone several changes within his recollection. The erection of the two new sees bad been followed by the admission of new archdeacons and the proctors of the new archdeaconries; the representatives of several peculiar jurisdictions had disappeared, and the clergy were admitted to vote in the archdeaconries to which they were transferred; two or three archdeaconries wbich, for a long series of years, returned but one proctor, now elected two, according to the general rule of the Province; and all the changes had been made by the Archbishop's action, without any change in the Queen's writ ... With reference to the Southern Province, the Commit. tee had found that various alterations affecting the representation of the diocese of Gloucester, the Royal Chapel of Windsor, the Collegiate Church of Wolverhampton, and several archdeaconries (four new archdeacons having been added to the Lower House), had taken place at a comparatively recent period; that the whole process of election of proctors in the diocese of Lincoln bad undergone a complete change; that the clergy of the archdeaconries of Colchester, Essex, and St. Albari's, who formerly voted for the proctors of the diocese of London, now voted for the proctors of the diocese of Rochester; that the proctors for the diocese of London were now elected by a much smaller constituency than formerly, &c. &c.'
A series of steps precisely similar to these would give Convocation all the reform it needs, and every step of reform save one would turn upon some such points as those of the above precedents, e. g. the allotment of more or fewer proctors to given electoral areas, a certain proportion between such proctors and the dignitaries, and the like.
It may be proper to notice here some remarks reported as made by Canon Blakesley on the comparative unanimity hitherto shown between the dignified' and the strictly representative members of the Lower House to which he belongs. That proportion in the Province of Canterbury is one of nearly two to one, in the Northern one it is to some extent reversed, being curiously characteristic of the greater sturdiness of independence in that region. The speaker says:
'If I object to the scheme of Sir H. Thompson (the enfranchisement of curates), it is not from any wish to kerp such a deserving body of men as they are from the same privileges as we now enjoy, but because I do not tniuk that a great increase in the number of proctors from the parochial clergy would be of much service. I say, as I have said belore, that I do not believe it is possible to lay your finger on any single malter brought before this House in which there has been anything like divergence of party to such an extent that the representatives of the parochial clergy bave stood on one side and the dignitaries on the other.'
But why should the speaker assume that a great increase in the number of proctors would be required in order to enable stipendiary curates to vote? You may, as shown lately in the case of the House of Commons, double a large proportion of the constituencies without adding a single representative to the total number of the House. No doubt Sir H. Thompson had,
as reported, said in the speech to which Canon Blakesley was replying, 'It might be assumed that any reform (of Convocation)
would be expected to comprehend an enlargement of the num*ber of elected proctors.' But such enlargement is a distinct proposal from that of enfranchising curates, and neither of them implies the other. Each must stand on its own merits. We cannot see any reason for viewing them as necessarily connected. As regards the general unanimity between the dignitaries and the proctors of the parochial clergy, we are extremely glad to hear of it, and hope that it may long prevail. But it seems fallacious to urge this as a reason for inadequate representation of the latter body. The argument would be equally good for excluding the proctors from Convocation altogether: since, it might be said, assuming Canon Blakesley's view, the dignitaries * really reflect their opinions faithfully and express them adequately, what need, therefore, of their presence there at all?' The question which should rather be asked is, How can we feel sure that the unanimity prevailing within doors correctly expresses the forces of opinion without? The temptations of prospects of preferment can never be excluded from a body returned as the proctors are. There may be always expected to be a vivid sympathy between those who are already dignitaries and those who hope to become so. To assume that the interests of the various sections of the clergy are adequately represented, is to assume the very question which any proposal for a reform of Convocation raises, if we leave out of sight for the moment any proposal as to the representation of the laity. The fact is, that such an amount of agreement, such a dramatic' unanimity as Canon Blakesley claims, is of itself a little suspicious, and suggests the inquiry, How far does it express the opinions of the clergy? How far does it stifle or mask them? Obviously it can never be trusted, while the predominant interest which either Convocation on the whole represents is the Crown. The archdeacons represent the bishops whom the Crown appoints, the other dignified clergy represent the Crown and themselves, besides the whole influence of the Upper House, solely appointed by the Crown, and the whip-hand maintained by the Primate, also a Crown noniinee, over all. The whole machine, at any rate in the Southern Province, is so evidently top-heavy, that to talk of anything like a balance of powers would be absurd, and any appeal to a prevailing unanimity is necessarily fallacious. We want a good deal more of the representation of that section of thinkers, who have little or nothing to hope from preferment, especially Crown preferment, before we can trust this concord of sweet sounds.
There is, however, one important point in the desirable reforms of Convocation which recent precedents do not cover. It is that of who the electors are to be? We are inclined to support the view that all priests in full communion should share the suffrage alike. The clerangement caused would be slight, if any; the advantage gained by the removal of an invidious distinction only tenable on the now abandoned ground of a self-taxing power in the clergy, would be considerable. The 5,000 curates voting with their 12,000 rectors, would vote for much the same men as they. But could there be a greater absurdity than the temporal legislature claiming a right to deal with any such question ? We view the step of consulting Government in the matter at all, as not one of the most discreet, especially with these precedents within easy reach, and many of them within living memory. It is clear that a large measure of reform may be obtained in this same unostentatious' and fragmentary way, by the Lower House and the Primate following consistently an united policy. Finding the Church nervous on the subject of what she might do, the Gorernment, of course, took advantage of her alarm, and assured her that she was powerless. The Church has, in fact, become benumbed by the long disuse of her powers. She can scarce persuade herself that she has any, and Crown lawyers chime in, . Of course not; she never had any since the Reformation.' There is a fable about a goose who became client to a fox, of which this reminds us. It shows what is so often true, that the boldest policy is the wisest. Crown lawyers will always show the instinct of their kind.
And this brings us to the further question of the general relations between Convocation and Parliament. The clergy must be prepared for stormy days, if they are to carry a clear conscience through this generation. The rule or understanding hitherto has been for the Church in all her officers to be deferential to the utmost to whoever sits in Downing-street, to venture only to remonstrate with bated breath and whispered humbleness,' as is the custom between the patron and the patronised. They would do this and they have their reward. They carried over, so blindly do habits infatuate us, the deference traditionally due to pious Princes, supreme over the Church in her own interests, to the Premier of a cabinet, who might be there to-day and gone to-inorrow, who had no interest officially in the Church except to make political capital out of her, who was himself the creature of a majority, and the puppet of the popular breath. They may be hardly pardoned for retaining the tradition so long, and that chiefly because the altered character of the circumstances was only slowly realized in fact. But the sum of it is,
they would cringe, and they are kicked. They have their reward. It is that the Church of England is defrauded of her doctrine and her discipline. The renegade holds his mitred head aloft, and mocks the one and tramples on the other. The revenues which arose from the self-denial of her sons, are alienated in order to propagate what they repudiate and abhor. Her clergy are iniquitously taxed, baited with impunity by the mob whenever it pleases the scum of the streets to take offence at her ordinances, and worried by a mockery of justice when they appeal to the magistrate for protection. She is become a hoarding to the bill-stickers of the House of Commons, a door-mat to my Lords' of the Privy Council office. They who continue cringing to such treatment deserve worse, and
may expect to receive it so long as worse is possible.
It is somewhat amusing to trace how this spirit oozes out occasionally in the debates of Convocation ; a highly estimable member of it says, as reported :
Wbile Mr. Joyce was speaking, a friend whispered, “We are on very thin ice," and his friend Mr. Joyce, in speaking of the civil power, certainly did use very strong language; and when he spoke of Convocation being dragged through the dirt of Parliament, he was doing the house much barm. He (Sir H. Thompson), koew that language tbat had been used in the House had been commented upon, and had given great offence in quarters with which they should be at peace.'
Sir H. Thompson may perhaps be right, that Mr. Joyce was less select in his language than a cooler advocate of the same cause would have been : but the fact is we have had peace,' and that too at any price, a little too long. The continuation of such peace is becoming every year more costly to the consciences of churchmen : and of course, in proportion as they are willing to sell them, the Parliament and hostile section out of doors will become more and more convinced that all those men have their price,' and that there is no conscience among them that is not saleable, or rather sold already, to the State. That is the view which has long since become an axiom of popular government,--that as against the State dissenters have consciences, and churchmen, more especially clergy, none at all !
The dissenters have helped to establish this in years past by an incessant worry of agitation for whatever concession they demanded, the clergy by a supine submission to whatever concession was demanded of them, the laity by an apathy which has played everything into the hands of the Crown-ininister in the House of Commons,
Now assuming this to be the popular view that the consciences of clergy of the Established Church are practically sold beforehand to the State, how is it to be combated and eradiNO. CXXXVIII.N.S.
cated ? It can only be by suffering for conscience' sake, by boldly asserting a conscientious conviction and sticking to it, utterly regardless of temporal consequences. That was
in which the early non-conformists won their way to imperishable
The same is true of the non-jurors, but they died out and left no successors, and the want of successors cuts off the force of their example. The fact, moreover, that the cause for which they took joyfully the spoiling of their goods,' was one essentially political
, and only incidentally religious, and moreover was one which the people of England (certainly in the end, although not without some hesitation for half-a-century) felt themselves compelled by a political necessity to condemn, obscures in the popular eye the lustre of their memory. The acceptance and permanence of the Hanoverian dynasty has fixed a gulf between modern English thought and the example of these, the latest confessors within the Church of England. The non-conformists have their legitimate successors, in the popular eye at any rate, in the modern dissenters : and the popular axiom that the dissenter as against the State has a monopoly of the rights of conscience, is due not so much to the restless ubiquity of their agitation, perfected by the training of two centuries and a half, as to the lustre reflected on them by the memory of the persecutions which their predecessors actually endured.
The clergy can only prove that they have a conscience yet unsold by suffering for its sake. No proof short of this will ever take hold on the popular mind; and although the cause of a rubric tampered with by Parliament may seem less than sufficient to some, it can hardiy be more lightly weighed than that right divine to keep the head covered which roused the conscience of a Quaker. For instance, when the Primate was baited by Lord Shaftesbury in the Lords about the concurrence of Convocation being invited in any contemplated change in the rubric which directs the ornaments of the Church and the ministers thereof,' if His Grace had replied, that to proceed by Act of Parliament alone would be a most ' dangerous course, as he himself should be prevented by conscientious scruples from complying with it, and was perfectly prepared to take the consequences, and that he rather thought the same scruples would be shared by many of the clergy,' this would have been a case in point. Words like these uttered and adhered to would help to bring the matter to an issue, to stamp on the public mind the fact that churchmen have a conscience, and nothing else ever will. His Grace did not say any words to this effect, he stopped short at saying that he agreed with the memorial, out of which the question put to him arose, that 'very great danger would result' from