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and at an age unusually early, to one of the very highest stations in the Establishment, it cannot but be, that many an inquiring eye will be fixed upon him ; that those in particular, who have the welfare of the Church deeply at heart, will turn their views to this quarter, not with suspicion and distrust, (for the well-known character of Dr. Sumner is amply sufficient to preclude the entertainment of such feelings as these,) but with a generous and reasonable confidence that they shall see extraordinary advancement justified by extraordinary merit. And as far as the publication which we are now about to notice can be considered as a criterion of the past, or an earnest of the future, we have no hesitation in saying that they will not be disappointed. We do not of course mean to refer to it as any thing like a perfect test; but we are persuaded, that in a production like this, when closely examined, we may in general trace pretty plainly the lineaments of the author's mind, and (what is of infinitely more importance) judge from it, with sufficient accuracy, “ of what manner of spirit he is.” It has been, therefore, with no common satisfaction that we have read the Charge before us—a satisfaction which a second and more attentive perusal has only had the effect of increasing. It is an address every way worthy of a chief minister of Christ. Talent, hallowed by piety, characterizes it throughout. There is much in it of zeal, and much also of judgment. It beautifully exemplifies that gentle spirit prescribed by St. Paul to a youthful Bishop ;. and yet exhibits, when occasion requires, that dignified assumption of authority, which was enjoined no less expressly by the same inspired teacher; and which is always of power to provide that “no man despise” him who assumes it worthily. This Charge has also another recommendation, which is in our eyes no slight one—it is eminently practical. Bishop Sumner does not think it enough to dwell upon vague generalities, or mere common places of the pastoral care; but enters minutely into the particulars of the actual state of the diocese, and into the ministerial duties consequent thereupon ; thus shewing that he knows how to estimate those“ veræ numerosque modosque vitæ," without the right ordering of which there cannot be harmony in the moral or the spiritual life. In reading the Epistles to Timothy and Titus, (the great prototypes and patterns of such addresses as that now under our notice,) we have always been much struck with the prominence of this practical character; so different from what might have been expected from either an enthusiast or an impostor. We have, indeed, been at a loss which most to admire in them, the high tone and bearing which mark the writer's consciousness of apostolical authority; the comprehensive brevity with which he sums up the leading and peculiar
• 2 Tim. ii. 24, 25.
doctrines of the gospel; or the condescending care with which he pursues the course of Christian duty through its various details, for the direction of his two “sons in the faith,” in their government of the churches, severally committed to them by their spiritual father.
But we are detaining our readers too long from the Charge itself.
After an exordium full of affection and brotherly kindness, the Bishop adverts to the declension of visitations from their original use and benefit-a regret in which we deeply participate. It does, indeed, we fear, but too often happen, that these solemn meetings are far from being occasions of that free and kindly and religious intercourse between the Clergy and their superiors, which is absolutely necessary to make them fully available to the purposes of instruction and edification for which they were instituted. And it is notorious, that some visitations of the Clergy, held by laymen invested with certain offices in our ecclesiastical courts, are little else than matters of frigid and unprofitable form, tending only to bring into contempt the system of which they are a part. The advantages which might be derived from these meetings, those especially of the Bishops and their Clergy, are, we think, by no means overstated in the following passage :
The relaxation of discipline into which our Church has gradually fallen, tends in some degree to weaken those feelings of interest with which the stated seasons of visitation were anciently regarded. If the original purposes of this solemn meeting were more strictly kept in view, if all the parties concerned in its duties were more intent on converting it into a season of ministerial improvement and friendly conference, much that is now merely formal might become instructive much that is deemed repulsive might be rendered interesting; what is at present tolerated in compliance with custom or in deference to authority, might be welcomed with delight, and regarded as a privilege. Visitations were designed, not more for the convenience of the Bishop than for that of the Clergy. The Church doubtless, expects that he to whom a certain portion of ecclesiastical authority is delegated, for the due administration of her important interests, should avail himself of these occasional meetings to inquire into the actual state of his charge; to provide that all things be done decently and in order; in a spirit of purity as to doctrine, of unity as to external forms, of conscientious and unfeigned zeal as to the general functions of the ministry. But, on the other hand, the Church expects from her clergy, not a mere passive attendance, not a bodily appearance only, at a stated time and place, but intelligent participation in the business of the day, and a readiness to promote its useful objects; she requires them to meet, not as men having no calling or pursuit in common, but as brethren of one large Christian family, conferring with each other, and with their Diocesan, respecting the state of their parishes, and taking sweet counsel together in whatever concerns the fulfilment of their pastoral office.
In the diocese to which Bishop Sumner has just been translated, it is, we understand, the custom (whence derived, or of what date, we know not) that the Diocesan should visit his Clergy only once during the whole period of his Episcopate ; a custom which, we trust we do not presume too much in saying-would be “ more honoured in the breach than the observance ;” and which we venture to hope may pass
VOL. X. NO. I.
away, unless there be some reason for its continuance of which we are not aware. In this indeed, and many other respects, we would willingly persuade ourselves that we see the dawn, and more than the dawn, of better days for the Church.
From reminding his brethren (in the words of Secker, whose Charges are a perpetual monument of his earnest and judicious piety) of the unalterable obligations of their profession, the measure of which no human authority can either enlarge or diminish, the Bishop proceeds to notice those which are “ superadded, in our own times, from the increased and increasing force of public opinion.” Speaking of the decay, or rather dissolution, of that " reverential regard which was once paid to the ministers of the Church, in virtue of their pious office," and contrasting with it “ those jealous eyes which are now ever watching with an Argus-like vigilance to detect in the pastor of the flock the absence of those qualities by which the Chief Shepherd was distinguished;" he is so far from complaining of, that he rejoices in the change. Well do we know the high and pure principle which has given birth to this expression of feeling, and cordially do we agree with the Bishop in deprecating the idea, that any one among the Clergy should be found willing to rest his claims to personal respect upon any other foundation than that of personal merit. But surely there is a broad and indelible line of distinction between this respect, which (as the Bishop observes) “ must be deserved before it can be won," and that, which the whole tenor of apostolical precept and practice warrants us in assigning to the duly constituted minister, not on his own account, but on that of the divine commission with which he is invested. Surely the indisposition, now so general, to pay this tribute, within reasonable and proper limits, to the sacredness of office, is no subject for congratulation, no symptom of religious health ; for the same authority which requires, absolutely and indispensably, that the dispensers of God's spiritual treasures “ be found faithful,” enjoins first, that " a man so account of them as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God;" and there is much reason to fear, that a ministry will fail of its due effect, which is received only in proportion to the receiver's estimate of the personal worthiness of him by whom it is exercised. It is, however, a most gratifying consideration, that whatever impediments may thus be cast in the way of ministerial success, (and no one can think more seriously of them than we do,) they are daily becoming less and less. That they will cease altogether, we know, alas, too much of human nature to expect. But we have more than once heard an aged prelate, who has borne long an honoured and beneficial rule in our Establishment, express his unfeigned satisfaction and thankfulness at the very great advancement made since he first entered upon his course by the Clergy, in every qualification which
can adorn their ministry, and give the Church to which they belong increased power to “commend itself to every man's conscience.” “Lateritiam invenit, marmoream relinquet.”
To the diligent and successful attention of his two immediate predecessors in the see of Llandaff to the dilapidated state of many of its churches, and to the zealous and able exertions of the present chancellor of the diocese for the remedy of the same grievous evil, the Bishop bears cordial and honourable testimony. But it is not our intention to advert to more than a few of the many important points upon which this excellent Charge touches ; for we by no means wish to anticipate that acquaintance with the whole of it which we are anxious that our readers, especially those who are more immediately interested in the subjects to which it relates, should make for themselves.
On the want of church accommodation, which at present prevails to a lamentable "extent in some parts of the diocese" of Llandaff, we have the following weighty observations :
This evil, long experienced so sensibly in other parts of the kingdom, seems to have been unfelt in these counties, until the mineral wealth of their mountains began, at a comparatively late period, to employ a large capital in its acquisition. It is impossible to contemplate, without feelings of the deepest compassion, those dense masses of population which since that time have been so rapidly collected on our hills. In the midst of a Christian country they seem, by a concurrence of unfortunate causes, to have been cut off from some of its dearest privileges. Exposed to all the disadvantages of temptation attendant on populous neighbourhoods, they are restrained by few of those checks which impose elsewhere a salutary restraint on the human passions, and are influenced by little of that example which, in the absence of higher motives, is often a good preservative against open vice. If, under these circumstances, instances of gross and flagrant crime are, as I am informed, of extremely rare occurrence, the credit of this morality, so far as it is founded at all on religious principles, can scarcely be imputed to the influence of the doctrine of Christ through the teaching of the Established Church. For, “how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach except they be sent?” Nor is the shame of this desertion to be hastily iinputed to those alone who have a principal interest in this property. That it is incumbent on them to make provision for the better instruction of those pumerous families who have been brought together by their means, is as certain as that parents are required to attend to the religious belief of their children, or masters of their servants. But they have a right to expect that facilities should be afforded for this purpose facilities greater perhaps than the constitution of our church, or the laws of the land at present offer. The Church of England has apparently never contemplated a case analogous to the present. It has made no provision for the religious instruction of a population which ebbs and flows, collected suddenly in a given spot, to be dispersed as suddenly, after a lapse of a few years, or a few centuries, when the hidden riches which first caused the influx shall have been exhausted. To the wants of a body of men who, like the inhabitants of a mining district, from the very nature of their work are so fluctuating in their number, and so shifting in their dwellings, those Perpetual Endowments which, generally speaking, our ecclesiastical forms most wisely require, are in a great measure inapplicable. But is it fitting that the Church should therefore reject them as outcasts from her fellowship, or deny them the liberty of entering that pale, within which, as her members believe, the purest form of communion is found, and the best external means are provided for
worshipping the Father in spirit and in truth? Is it consistent with her profession that they should be as sheep having no shepherd, or abandoned to every blast of vain doctrine to which, in the absence of other teachers, they may chance to be exposed? If it be true, as we have been lately told, that the number of Dissenters from the Established Church is increased, even to the half of the population of the kingdom, can we wonder at this accession to their ranks, so long as we close the door against our own friends, and compel them to take refuge in other asylums? Is it extraordinary that men should be willing to accept from the policy or zeal of others, what we are too tardy in giving, or are unable to give ourselves? Something perhaps might be done to remedy this evil, if a fund were created for the support of clergy of our own establishment, who might be stationed from time to time, as occasion required, in places where the excess of population had arisen from causes of a temporary nature, and was not likely to be permanent. An expanding and contracting power would thus be provided, which, if used discreetly, and employed under proper sanction, might preserve within the bosom of our own communion thousands to whom the comforts of religion are now inaccessible through the portals of the Established Church. This, however, is not the proper time or place for such a suggestion. It is sufficient for my present purpose to have called your attention to the existence of the evil, and the consequences which must inevitably result from it. Meanwhile it may be convenient for some of my clergy to know, that in parishes where the present accommodation is insufficient, and a large proportion of the population is situated at a distance from the church, I shall not decline to license suitable buildings, under certain provisions, for the temporary performance of divine service, if no more unobjectionable means can be devised for administering to the spiritual wants of the people. I may also add, for the information of those who are disposed to avail themselves of this privilege, that by an important clause in an Act of Parliament, passed in the last Session, it is enacted, that persons building and permanently endowing churches or chapels, have now the perpetual right of presentation, without making compensation to the minister of the church or parish wherein such new church or chapel be situated; whereas, under the former act, the right of presentation was conceded for forty years, or the first two turns only.* -P. 8—10.
The suggestions contained in this passage are well deserving of attention; but we must confine our remarks to the clause cited in the concluding sentence of it. The Act to which the Bishop refers was passed at the close of the last session of Parliament, for the necessary purpose of prolonging the duration of the powers intrusted to the Commissioners for building New Churches. Two other provisions, however, were added, of which the clause in question is one. It enacts,
That when any person or persons shall, to the satisfaction of the said Commissioners, endow any chapel built, or hereafter to be built, by such person or persons, with some permanent provision in land, or monies in the funds exclusively, or in addition to the pew rents or other profits arising from the said chapel, such endowments to be settled and assured as the said Commissioners shall authorize and direct, it shall be lawful for the said Commissioners to declare that the right of nominating a minister to the said chapel, shall for ever thereafter be in the person or persons building and endowing the said chapel, his, her, or their heirs and assigns, or in such person or persons as he, she, or they shall appoint, and notwithstanding no compensation or endowment may be made to, or for the benefit of the minister of the church of the parish within which such chapel may be built.