Page images
PDF
EPUB

ble :

ought not to be forgotton, that assem- acuteness and clearness of his mind, one bling is the regular course, in the case would unhesitatingly say, that it is im. of parliament--the unusual course now, possible that he should think so. But, in the case of the convocation ; and that on the other hand, his use of the illus. while suspending the assembling of par- tration seems to prove very clearly that liament would be new and violent, it has he does. l'or, otherwise, this apologue become the regular practice as regards would have no application to the case the convocation. It would be perfectly with which he is dealing. The objectors possible, therefore, even from this cir. whom he is opposing are in the place of cumstance only, that the assembling of the man who gave counsel against setparliament might generally allay politi- ting about building a bridge when the cal excitement, while religious excite.

waters were high; and, unless he be as ment might be most materially increased foolish and wrong as the man who reby the assembling (which would be the sisted the building of it when the waters revival) of convocation."

were low, the illustration is useless for

its purpose. Having proceeded to exhibit, in de

“It appears, therefore, very evident, tail, discrepancies between the subjects strange as it is, that his grace means of comparison, by which, he conceives, to give both of these, as examples of the this analogy is vitiated, the bishop weak and perverse objections by which endeavours to prove that the second .enterprises of great pith and moment' illustration employed against hiin is

lose the name of action. Whereas, equally defective. Indeed, he seems to

while it is very certain that the first be of opinion, that on full consideration,

objector, and those whom he brought the Archbishop of Dublin would rather

over to his opinion, were foolish enough,

it does not at all follow that the second approve of the caution which, in his

objector was of the same stamp. He analogy, he appears to think censura.

might be, no doubt, a vain alarmist; but then, on the other hand, it is abun

dantly plain, that he might not ; that “ The archbishop's lively illustration, the waters might have so risen that the in fact, opens a view of the case which attempt to build was now useless and he did not intend to exhibit. Not, of hazardous. This evidently might be course, that he meant to conceal any the case ; and if it were so, it is equally thing that he saw, but there is a phase evident, that he would not be the weak of such questions which does not offer and absurd person that the archbishop's itself to those who look at them from purpose in illustration requires him to the point of view which persons of his

There would be no folly in his ad. active temperament generally take.- vising those who were about to waste When the river is low, the want of a money and risk lives in the undertaking, bridge is not felt, and the lazy adviser to deter it, till the waters subsided so who seeks to persuade those who would far as to allow of its being attempted have to bear the charge of it, that they with safety, and with good hopes of suc. would be putting themselves to useless cess : nor would this counsel be at all trouble and expense in building a bridge the more foolish, because, before, when over a stream that any child could step the waters were low, other advisers had across, is likely enough to be listened dissuaded them from the work, and sucto. When the river is swollen and im. ceeded : nor because, when the stream passable, every one feels the want of a again became low, such slothful counbridge; and one who acknowledges that sellors would be sure to repeat their it is absolutely necessary, and that it advice. The real folly, little as the archought to be built ; but who seeks to bishop seems to suspect it, would be in dissuade those who are eager to set the clever but rather headlong counsellor, about it at once, from what he regards who, having seen and heard of many a as a fruitless and hazardous enterprise, valuable opportunity lost, and many a is likely to have an unwiling auditory. fair enterprise brought to nougbt by They will be much more disposed to listening to 'objections,' was resolved hearken to the bolder adviser who tells never to listen to them; and who, acthem, “That they will never build the cordingly, shut his own ears against bridge if they listen to objections; that this warning, and persuaded his neigh. they may be sure that objectors will bours to disregard it too. Nor would never be wanting to dissuade them from his folly be a jot "the less, because he attempting it.'

be.

and they had, in this very case, been “Does the Arehbishop of Dublin think persuaded to neglect the work when it that this would be right ? If we were might have been accomplished with ease to collect the answer to this question and safety; nor, because those who had from what every body knows of the so misled them would certainly be ready,

under the like circumstances, to attempt alone, and does not concern himself, to do so again.

as indeed he is not concerned, with any “I am aware that in thus expanding other application of them. We, how. the archbishop's pleasant illustration,

ever, are less restricted, and feel that am sadly marring its point. But that is a matter of minor importance, if, as

they may be viewed, not unprofitably,

under another aspect. I trust, I have been mending its fair. ness. And with this slight expansion

The allegories of his grace the archI am content to accept it as a fair re- bishop, appear to us to labour under a presentation of the state of the question. vice which it did not come within the I do not desire, on the one hand, that scope of the Bishop of Ossory's de. those who are called on to build the sign to notice, and yet which is fatal bridge at once, should give up the un. to the archbishop's argument. dertaking at once, merely because some To hesitate about engaging in the objectors have come forward to warn them that the waters are too high. But

construction of a legislature for the then, on the other hand, I trust that

church, because of the unfavourable they, or most of them, will feel, that

circumstances which discourage some they are not at liberty to dismiss this from the undertaking, his grace reobjection at once, as if it were plainly presents as not less unwise than it unworthy of the consideration of practi- would be to discontinue the meetings cal men; or, to set it aside by saying, of parliament, because party feuds run that nothing will ever be done, it people high, or to abandon the purpose of listen to objections against setting about building a bridge, because the river their work, when they ought to be balf

over which it should be erected, was way over it ; or, by any apophthegm of

swollen. that kind: or, by the more special an. swer, that the work proposed is much

In order that these comparisons wanted, and never more than at this

should prove serviceable to the archvery moment; that it has been much bishop's argument, it must be received too long delayed ; and that, in fact, it as an admitted truth, that the parliawould have been finished long ago, if ment, and the bridge, are,in themselves, they had not given too ready an ear to good things, and things known and indolent objectors before; or any of the acknowledged to be good. Is there answers which the illustration suggests

a similar recognition of excellence in as decisive in the case. I trust that they will feel that they cannot, in pru

the legislature or the legislative body dence, set aside this objection on these,

through which the affairs of the or any such reasons ; but that they

church, should the archbishop's scheme ought to examine carefully whether it succeed, are to be ordered and settled ? is well-grounded or not, before they are Have we any knowledge of the conpersuaded to disregard it. They are stitution or composition of the assem. warned, that the waters are too high bly to which synodical powers are to to allow of their setting about the work be entrusted ? We know the consti. now with safety. If they carefully and tution of parliaments—we understand honestly endeavour to ascertain whether this representation is true or not, before

the construction, and have experience they begin, I am perfectly satisfied."

of the uses of bridges ;-we know, as

yet, absolutely nothing of that ideal It will have been seen that in these organ of deliberate wisdom and power remarks, and indeed throughout his to which the Archbishop compares pamphlet, the Bishop of Ossory con. them. We could understand the confines himself to that one point of view sistency of such comparisons if they in which he proposed to consider the were instituted between a parliament, subject on which he has written ; or even a bridge, and the convocation. namely—" the expediency of restoring,. In such a case one real existence would at this time, to the church her syno. be compared with another,-entities dical powers." Agreeing with those would be at each side in the deliberation who entertain the belief that a resto- or argument, and their correspondence ration of these powers is desirable, could be readily known and tested, but denying the expediency of engaging but to place à definite reality in one now in an enterprise which, he admits, scale, and leave the other void for some ought to be undertaken if the times visionary subsistence, as yet, not only were less unfavourable, he considers unformed but unplanned, is surely not the arguments and illustrations of the the mode of procedure by which searchbishop in their relation to time rious matters should be determined.

If, after a prolonged discontinuance of ties, what he meant to do with the parliaments, the throne were prayed to things he found existing ? Would he devise some species of assembly suitable abolish the parliament which he propoto the exigencies of the times, a wise sed to supersede-would he destroy the man might, without prejudice to his bridge for which he proposed to subreputation, refuse to join in such a

stitute one

more serviceable? Or, prayer; if, when a river were found would he merely make the existing impassible, it was proposed to entrust parliament and bridge fit to render the certain parties with power to devise and services for which they were originally carry into effect some contrivance of designed? which they approved, few, except those If such a question were asked rewho placed implicit reliance on the specting the projectors in the archparties to whom such power was to be bishop's analogy, there is nothing in assigned, would admit the propriety of the petition presented by his graco, confiding it to them. The sovereign nor in the argument recommending it, might reasonably be petitioned to as- from which an answer could be col. semble parliamenta committee might lected. Both intimate the desirablewell be appointed to take measures for ness of having a legislature erected the erection of a bridge ; but, if a pru. within the church, and neither explains dent man were requested to sign a whether the desired end is to be attained petition, or assent to a proposal, that by rendering the convocations now held a king, or a company, would be pleased efficient, or by suppressing them, and to do what seemed to either to be fit, he substituting in their place assemblies of would be, we imagine, very unlikely to different constitution and character. yield a ready acquiesence. With equal It is, we apprehend, very generally justice and prudence he might refuse known, that convocations are uni. to acquiesce in the prayer of the peti- formly summoned concurrently with tion presented by the Archbishop of parliament, and that, after assembling Dublin. It was a petition professedly and dispatching some formal business, addressed to an assembly unfit to legis- they adjourn. To render them effilate for the church, unwilling to legis- cient as a legislature, it is only neceslate for its benefit, and yet prayed to sary that the royal writ, by virtue of exercise a discretionary power in fabri- which they are holden, shall be accomcating measures by which, for evil or panied or followed by a royal licence to for good, the whole ecclesiastical sys- enact canons. Thus, it may be said, tem might be materially and unaltera- there is an ecclesiastical legislature in bly affected. No man should be ac. a state of preparedness to enact laws, counted timid or supine for refusing to whenever new laws are wanted, but subscribe his name to such a petition. without the power to make loose expe

The Archbishop's analogy labours riments in legislation, at the will of under another disadvantage. It has no speculative and enterprising members provision for a very marked peculiarity desirous of a change. Is it the purin the circumstances for which it pro- pose and wish of the Archbishop of fesses to furnish an illustration. Let Dublin to obtain this dangerous power it be supposed, that parliaments were for the convocations which are now not discontinued, but, being duly sum- holden? Is it his object to have some moned and assembled at stated periods, kind of assembly, whose composition is were uniformly prorogued without en- yet to be devised, empowered to act tering upon the “dispatch of busi- and legislate as freely as the high courts ness;" let it be supposed that the flooded of parliament ? We confess our inariver were not altogether destitute of bility to discover, and are disposed to a bridge, but that it was spanned by charge our ignorance less on our own an arch which demanded repair before dulness of apprehension, than on the it could be pronounced serviceable and obscurity and indefiniteness of the archsafe ; might not, in such a case, the bishop's argument and petition. projector of a new kind of parliament, or And this, if we are right, is a matter of a new bridge, be accounted rash, of grave remonstrance. A petition for rather than the protestor against his an ecclesiastical legislature ought to scheme be derided for timidity? Atleast, declare whether it contemplates an imwould it not be a reasonable question provement of the existing legislature, to demand of the advocate for novel- or the erection of a new: it ought to Vol. XXII, No. 132.

2 c

declare, whether it desires to have the of the age, and then, when thus reconvocation licensed to act—to see its formed, to legislate for the correction constitution altered-or to see it super- of all errors, and abuses, and deficienseded by an assembly of a different cies, in the ecclesiastical system? If description. Can it be possible that this were his grace's desire, we regret this is an object contemplated with de- that he did not express it. If his wish sire by any prelate in our Church? were of an opposite tendency, it would We would hope it is not. It would be no less desirable that he should be a very serious evil to see the old le- avow his purpose of destroying or disgislature and the new confronted and honouring the convocation, by meaconflicting-to see the assembly, which sures of change, in the designing of is purely ecclesiastical, complaining which it had no part—in the adoption against the body of parliamentary crea- of which it had no voice or will and tion ; or to see the civil legislature by which its position or its character effecting or aiming at the extinction of became essentially and irrecoverably the ecclesiastical, and investing an altered. assembly, to which it had given exis- Let it be set down, then, as our tence, with an authority to govern in leading objection to the movement respiritual things, and to make altera- commended by the archbishop, (we tions in the Church. We know of no omit for the present the consideration precedent for an exercise of power like whether itis seasonable,) that his grace this-we know of no argument which has left us ignorant of the direction in could justify or excuse it. If the con- which it was to be made, and that, so vocation need reform, we could under- far as we can see, he must be, himself, stand the propriety of requiring and equally uninformed.

The moment his empowering it to effect the neces- petition is granted, his control over sary alteration.

Equally with one the movement originated by him ceases. of the houses of parliament, a house At his will an engine which is to stamp of convocation may require change a character-perhaps a new character and improvement; but the amendment, - upon the Church, has been constructin the instance of the convocation as en and put in action, and the construcin that of parliament, should be made tion and management of this fatal enwithin. If the civil legislature were gine is confided to an assembly “ unfit to effect great changes, purely on its to legislate for the Church, unwilling own authority, in the governing assem- to legislate for its advantage;"—nay, bly of the Church, it might provoke a this very unmeetness and indisposition most unseemly contention : there is, is avowed or proclaimed as the reason at all events, nothing disreputable in for confiding to a suspected assembly refusing to join in petitioning parlia- a duty which none but wise and faithment to attempt so hazardous an ex- ful friends should ever be permitted to periment. It would be little less un- execute. If parliament has become reasonable to pray that the crown or disqualified for legislating in ecclesiasthe lords would, of their own mere tical matters, we should more than motion, carry into effect a reformation doubt its competency to adjust the of the commons' house of parliament. composition and constitution of an A member of convocation should ecclesiastical legislature. We can well hardly court the exercise of alien, or, imagine a generous enemy willing to at least, extern, jurisdiction, which a disconnect himself from all control member of parliament would strongly over an adversary's affairs ; and can deprecate and resist. It is not, there- understand that Roman Catholics, and fore, rash to hope, that the Archbishop Dissenters, and Socinians, having seats of Dublin, when he prayed that the in either house of parliament, may Church might have an efficient legis- consent to dispossess themselves of lature within herself, did not desire power to harm the Church or Church that her existing legislature should be Establishment; we can imagine that annulled or superseded. May it have they would willingly acquiesce in the been his wish that the convocation erection of a new court or legislative should be licensed to act first upon it- assembly, to which the task relinquishself, then upon the Church at large- ed by themselves could with more first modifying itself, so as to become propriety be committed; but we are adapted to the wants and necessities wholly unable to discern any good rea

son why they,or the body to which they belong, should be called upon to frame that intermediate legislature by which the Church was thenceforth to be governed.

The argument of the Bishop of Salisbury is not liable to the objection which we feel against the scheme of his grace the archbishop. His lordship, we are inclined to believe, would willingly see the convocation restored to its efficiency:

to the excited and exciting controversies of those least able and least willing to treat them in so befitting and beneficial a spirit. There would be no safety or security to the Church, if she were not permitted to accommodate herself in a due degree to the altered circumstances of the age, and with recognised autho. rity to meet the necessities which, in the course of time, must inevitably occur.”

“ The convocation might not, theoretically, be the most excellent and perfect form of Church legislature; but he could not deem it so impracticable or useless as it had been represented. The upper house, composed of the prelates, could not, surely, be open to the charge of too great tendency to popular influences; and the other house consisted only of 144 members, a number which certainly, if popularly elected, might be susceptible of excited influences, but which was made up of, first, the deans, dignitaries next in rank to the bishops, and probably about the same age, not at all likely to consider matters in other than a calm and temperate manner; nor less likely to deal with Church-matters in such a spirit were the archdeaconsthe very elite of the clergy-to whom, assuredly, such subjects might safely be entrusted. So that more than half the members of the lower house were persons not popularly elected, but sitting by virtue of their stations and offices in the Church. The excitement common nowa-days in Church-matters might be ascribed in no slight degree to the absence of any recognised form of governmentof any mode by which opinions could be brought to the test of calm consideration. Something analogous to this evil in the Church might be noticed in the excitement accustomed to pervade the country during the temporary cessations of parliamentary deliberations, when public questions were discussed at dinners and meetings, and exciting language bandied to and fro in speeches and papers—an excitement dying away in a great degree, when matters were brought again before regularly authorised assemblies; and even the wild excitement-the fierce language echoed so loudly on the other side of the Irish Channel, was apt to die away to something more approaching rational discussion and argumentative consideration when brought into the houses of parliament. Nor was this wholly dissimilar to what must occur in a Church where there was no authorized body to consider conflicting opinions calmly; and, therefore, they were left

If we rightly collect his lordship's views from this passage, they are, we will admit, direct and intelligible. At the same time, we doubt their suitableness to the place in which they were expressed. The throne is the tribunal before which they could be laid with best advantage. A royal license can effect all that the Bishop of Salisbury seems desirous to have accomplished. Parliament cannot grant such a license, cannot annul it if granted by the crown. If there be a general and earnest desire entertained throughout the Church, to restore its former powers to the convocation, it should be signified in a dutiful address to the crown—an address recommended by the great numbers and the high reputation of the subscribers, as well as by the convincing arguments in which their wisdom was embodied; and should not be left dependent upon the advocacy of any, the most exalted, individual, speaking in his own name alone, in an assembly which had no power to grant the thing he prayed for.

Nor is our objection only to the place in which the Bishop of Salisbury delivered his argument; we are disposed to think that, even were it addressed to the crown, it ought not to prove effectual. It contained no enu. meration of topics worthy to engage the attention of the convocation, if left free to act; and this we hold to be a fatal omission. The Sovereign of England is “Defender of the Faith.” However the title was given, its propriety has hitherto been highly vindicated—vindicated against alien intrusion-vindicated by repressing the precipitancy of ill-advised members of the national establishment vindicated, we trust, it will continue to be, by withstanding rash endeavours to convert the convocation into an independent legislature. Whenever it is plainly desirable that new canons be enacted, the crown, we trust, will grant its license to frame

« PreviousContinue »