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was forgotten, through the abeyance of Synods. Then it was objected that by the Public Worship Regulation Act of 1874 an entirely new and unconstitutional principle was introduced. By that Act the two Archbishops of Canterbury and York were required to select the same official Principal, and if they could not agree, the election fell to the Crown; thus the principal Judge of the Church of England was divested of his spiritual character and treated simply as an officer of the State. The present titular Dean of Arches appeared to hold this view of his position, for on assuming office he had not taken the accustomed oaths, nor complied with the ecclesiastical conditions which had been fulfilled by his predecessors. Attention was also directed to the fact that in its working the Act had been applied to repress alleged excesses of Ritual, and not to enforce the observance of the plain directions of the Rubrics. The objectionable character of ecclesiastical legislation proceeding from Parliament alone without reference to Convocation was pressed; as also the punishment of imprisonment for disobedience, and the non-existence of any tribunal for the trial of Bishops and Archbishops.
As the Report has hitherto led to no practical result, we must content ourselves with noticing the recommendations of the Commissioners with regard to the Courts for dealing with questions of heresy and breaches of the Ritual law for the future. They II.
recommend the revival of the Diocesan Courts, and that the Church Discipline Act, the Public Worship Regulation Act, and other enactments inconsistent with the constitution of the Ecclesiastical Courts proposed by them shall be repealed. But their most important recommendation is with regard to the Final Court of Appeal, which they ground on the basis that every subject, if he feels himself aggrieved, has a right of appeal to the Crown. They claim that their scheme must be regarded as a whole, and on the understanding that the earlier Courts should consist of spiritual judges, they propose that the Final Court of Appeal should be composed exclusively of lay judges learned in the law, who may, on the motion of any one of their Court, apply to the Archbishops and Bishops for information on points of doctrine or ritual. The members of the Court must declare themselves to be members of the Church of England, and the quorum is to consist of five, who need not give their reasons; but if they do so, each shall deliver his judgment separately. The Commissioners are also of opinion that a provision should be made for the trial of criminous Archbishops and Bishops, and for compelling them to obey the law.
It is evident that this proposal as to the Final Court will never satisfy the Church. A preferable plan would be that the Courts of first instance should consist of civil judges, and the Court of Appeal of spiritual persons, rather than that the civil power should override the decisions of the Ecclesiastical Courts. What security would there be against a renewal of the practices which have met with such general condemnation under the Judicial Committee of Privy Council ? What between objections from Churchmen against this part of the Report, and of Erastians and Dissenters against other parts, there is, we imagine, but slight chance of the scheme of the Ecclesiastical Courts Commissioners being carried into effect.
HAT the last fifty years have witnessed a mar
vellous revival in the Church is admitted on all sides. Fifty years ago the Church seemed to be in extremis; in many pious minds a fear existed that “the axe must be laid to the root of the tree," and the verdict issued, “ Cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground ?"
Much required to be done before the Church attained the efficiency which we witness in the present day. Such scandals had crept into it as to render legislation indispensable, and though we may question the principle of robbing the Church with one hand in order to endow it with the other, there can be no doubt that to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners the present vitality of the Church is in a great measure attributable. Still an important change was made in the position of the Church by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The State then violated the fundamental principle of the inviolability of Church property; it started the innovation that the Church is one large corporation with common property, which may be devoted to the general purposes of the Church, as the State thinks fit to enact.
In 1835 two Commissions were issued to consider the present state of the dioceses of England and Wales, with reference to the amount of their revenues, with a view to the more equal distribution of episcopal duties, and the prevention of what amounted almost to a necessity, Bishops holding benefices in commendam; to consider the state of cathedral and collegiate churches; and to make the best provision for the cure of souls, with especial reference to the residence of the Clergy in their respective benefices.
On their recommendation the Ecclesiastical Commission was incorporated in 1836 a. A state of things was brought to light which surprised even the sincerest admirers of an Established Church. The revenues of the Church, notwithstanding its spoliation in the sixteenth century, were large, but unequally distributed.
Of the whole income of the Church, amounting to £3,490,497, no less a sum than £435,046 went to the Bishops and other dignitaries; it was also very unequally distributed amongst the Bishops; for whereas the Archbishop of Canterbury enjoyed an income of £18,090; the Bishop of London of £13,890; of Durham £19,480 ; the Bishopric of Oxford, which up to that time consisted
* 6 and 7 Will. IV. c. 77. The constitution of the Commission was altered in 1840, by 3 and 4 Vict. c. 113; again by 14 and 15 Vict. c. 104; and 23 and 24 Vict. C. 125.