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have actually no check on the appointments of a Socinian (if it so happen) or Infidel Minister, guided by the more violent influences of a legislative body, for which I feel too much respect as a political power, to express an opinion about certain portions of its members.
Again, with regard to the inferior patronage of the Church : a large proportion of our benefices are, as has been already noticed, in the hands of laymen, who may be of any religion under heaven; and the laws of England (it must be confessed with sorrow) watch so jealously over the interests of these patrons, and so little over those of the Church, that they compel the Bishops, except in cases so outrageous that they can hardly ever occur, to accept at once of the person first presented to them, and to commit the cure of souls to him by the process of institution. It is worth observing what Judge Blackstone says upon this subject. “Upon the first delay," says he, “or refusal of the Bishop to admit the Clerk, the Patron usually brings his writ of Quare impedit against the Bishop for the temporal injury done to his property in disturbing him in his presentation...... The writ of Quare impedit commands the Bishop to permit the plaintiff to present; and unless he does so, then that he appear in Court to show his reason.” What sort of reason the Court will be satisfied with, the Judge informs us in another place. “With regard to faith and morals,” says he, “if the Bishop alleges only in generals that he is schismaticus inveteratus, or ob
jects a fault that is malum prohibitum merely, as haunting taverns, playing at unlawful games, or the like, it is not good cause of refusal.” The Judge proceeds, “ if the cause be some particular heresy alleged, the fact, if denied, shall be determined by a jury.” The sum of the whole is, then, that unless the Bishop can prove to the satisfaction of a jury in a Court of Common Law, that the person presented to him for institution has been guilty of some particular immoral act above the grade of malum prohibitum, or has maintained some opinion such as shall come under the strict definition of heresy, he loses his cause, and then, if he persist in his refusal, is liable to an action for damages, in which the Judge informs us “the patron may recover ample satisfaction.”
Now, if any one were to search among his own acquaintances for those whom he considers least fit for clergymen, he would certainly find that his reason for thinking so was of a kind which he could not make good before a court of justice. Those who wish to see this matter in its true light should read over 1 Tim. iii. to verse 10., and then reflect whether St. Paul would have been very likely to approve of the law of England as it now stands.
2. These are among the effects of STATE INTERFERENCE, as it affects Church Patronage. As to Church Discipline, without entering into the reasons for restoring it, it may be sufficient to mention one fact, showing the practical effect of the law to suppress it.
Every Churchwarden in every parish in England is called on once a year to attend the visitation of his Archdeacon. At this time oaths are tendered to him respecting his different duties, and among other things he swears, that he will present to the Archdeacon the names of all such inhabitants of his parish as are leading notoriously immoral lives. This oath is regularly taken once a year by every Churchwarden in every parish in England; yet I believe such a thing as any single presentation for notoriously immoral conduct has scarcely been heard of for a century. So that it would certainly seem that, if within this last century any notoriously immoral man has been residing in any parish in England, the Church wardens of that parish have been perjured : and this is the effect of certain laws, which we should call persecuting, did they not exist in our own free country, which interfere with the due discharge of their solemn engagements.
All these evils result from what is called the Union of Church and State, and must be balanced against its benefits before enumerated. It is for the sake of these very evils that all mere statesmen support this Union; and I question whether such supporters are not worse enemies than the Dissenters themselves.
Let us then beware of trusting too much to these words, “ The Union of Church and State ;" and remember that it consists of two parts, STATE PROTECTION and STATE INTERFERENCE.
In conclusion, I recommend the following reflections of a modern [writer :]
“How long, O Lord of Grace,
Must languish Thy true race, In a forced friendship linked with Belial here! ;" &c. &c.
1[vid. Lyra Apostolica, No. 119, 2nd edit.]
§ 1. [On National Religion?.]
Among the arguments which have been devised for justifying our neglect of Church Discipline, not the least approved is a certain hocus pocus that has been got up about Church and State.
admirer of former times regrets the inability of our bishops to eject delinquent clergymen from their benefices. “Ah,” replies a (supporter of things as they are,] “ that was very well in the Primitive Church, where no secular interests were involved ; but you forget that ours is an Endowed Church." The foiled objector turns to another point. In the primitive Church he finds no authority for patronage, particularly for vesting the patronage of bishoprics in the crown. “I admit it,” replies the advocate, “but then the Primitive was not an Established Church.” The objector has yet another difficulty: he recollects the stress invariably laid by the early Fathers on the power of the Keys, and ventures to regret in our Church the disuse of
1 [Written in 1834.]