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it easier :--Also, if such curates been stirred to gone learn God's law, and teach their parishers the gospel, commonly they shallen get no leave of bishops but for gold; and when they shallen most profit in their learning, then shallen they be cleped home at the prelate's will.'? This complaint is from one who for fourteen years—that is, from 1360 to 1374-being the incumbent of at least one country parish, was resident in Oxford, at various colleges, ` learning God's law' no doubt, but making no great haste to 'teach his parishers the gospel.' After the great mediæval examples, modern cases of pluralism are like our weak attempts at small-pox since the days of vaccination, when compared with the florid luxuriance of the old disease. When the Rev. Dr. Blomfield was offered the bishopric of Chester, being then rector of Bishopsgate in London, a lady of quality hastened to exhort him to take the new, but by no means to resign the old preferment. “Why should you not keep your St. Botolph ?' Why, indeed ? It was a parish with the cure of some 12,000 souls; but the tradition from the days of Edward 1. to that present day was, that souls could be cured from any distance. Bishop Blomfield was an upright and a candid man, and did much to bring about better things. But in 1824 he accepted a diocese about 150 miles long, on condition that he should have the parish of Bishopsgate to ' retire' to, with its addition of 12,000 souls. The diocese included fat Cheshire, and teeming Lancashire, and the mountain fastnesses of Westmoreland, with a part of Cumberland. There were no railroads; London was distant from Cheshire by a day and a night of hard travelling. But, on the other hand, the endowment of Chester was very inadequate; it could be held with the living, but must have been declined without that. Accepted it was; and yet it was in perfect sincerity that the Bishop chose for one of the subjects of his Charge, in 1825, the duty of clergymen of residence upon their benefices. The evil was seen and felt, and from a mind so clear and upright it could have nothing but condemnation. The system of commendams and pluralities, rebuked and banished by all kinds of legislation and exhortations, survived in great vigour from Othobon to George Iv.; but its hour was come.
Now, when men began in earnest to carry into practice the old truth, that the labourer is worthy of his hire,' with its two corollaries that each should do his own labour, and that he should be recompensed for it, two great obstacles were found in the path.
The first was, that some of the episcopal incomes were so small, as to require the addition of some other place of emolument, in order to make the offices tenable.
From Why Poor Priests have no Beneficer.
ben vexations walive holde of England
“The incomes of one half of the bishoprics fall below the sum necessary to cover the expenses to which a bishop is unavoidably subject. ... In considering these incomes, it is necessary to advert not only to the expenses necessarily incurred in journeys for the purposes of confirmation, consecration, and state-official duties; in maintaining ancient and extensive houses of residence; in keeping hospitality; and in contributing to all objects connected with religion and charity in a manner suitable to their station, but to a burden which presses heavily on newly promoted bishops, who are seldom men of wealth. The unavoidable expenses attending their appointment are so considerable, that they may be calculated at the income of one whole year, in most of the sees, and at much more than a year's income in the smaller ones.'1
It has been seen that the see of Chester was held with a London rectory. Another see was held with a canonry of Westminster. Some people remember how the fretted woodwork of the stalls was covered in one place with padding and leather, because the rich carving used to arrest the episcopal robes, and to suggest, by a vexatious rent-Lawn sleeves, what do you here?' A venerable prelate, now alive, holds, under the old system, a see and a canonry, with the whole length of England between them. This difficulty, however, was easy to overcome, because a better distribution of the funds was the only thing required for assigning to each see a sufficient income, and securing for it the undivided labours of the bishop. In 1836, an Act was passed for this purpose. Certain fixed incomes were to be provided ; and no bishop could thereafter hold any office in commendam. Two new sees were established, to include the growing manufacturing populations of Yorkshire and of Lancashire. The sees of Gloucester and Bristol were united, and some portions of other dioceses were re-arranged. The revenues of the sees which had more than the prescribed income were to furnish what was lacking to the rest. Canterbury and Durham were the chief contributors. The fund thus created was applicable to episcopal purposes only. This Act gave rise to little controversy. The new sees of Ripon and Manchester were a great boon to the Church in two great manufacturing districts. On the other hand, Bristol, which had wellnigh burnt its last Bishop in his bed, and did effectually burn the bed, and indeed the whole see-house, has never ceased to express its indignation at the loss of its Bishop, and of its virtual annexation to the diocese of Gloucester, where the see-house for the diocese is placed. We cannot but hope that, in future arrangements, this feeling, which, if partly stimulated by civic pride and rivalry, has much of a nobler ingredient, may be appeased. Nor
? First Report of Church Inquiry Commission, 1835.
has Nottingham, severed from the province and diocese of York, ever rested tranquil in the lap of its new nurses; and the hope of a new diocese of Southwell, to include the whole of that county, is legitimate, and ought soon to be satisfied. The amended diocese of Rochester, with the broad Thames interposed between its cathedral and its Bishop, cannot be called symmetrical; but this will probably be amended. Upon the whole, this measure wrought a substantial good, with no disturbance of vested rights, and with little practical inconvenience.
The next obstacle was much more serious. It lay in the poverty of the parochial endowments, and the enormous increase of the population in some town parishes, where there was no spiritual provision for the great mass of the people.
'In order to give increased efficiency and usefulness to the Established Church, it is obviously necessary that we should attempt the accomplishment of two objects, which are indispensable to the complete attainment of that end. One is, to improve the condition of those benefices the population of which is of considerable amount, but which are now so scantily endowed as not to yield a competent maintenance for a clergyman; the other is, to add to the numbers of clergymen and churches, and so to make a more adequate provision for the religious instruction of a rapidly increased and increasing population. It appears from the report of the Ecclesiastical Revenues Commission that there are no less than 3528 benefices under £150 per annum. Of this number, 13 contain each a population of more than 10,000; 51 a population of from 5000 to 10,000; 251 a population of between 2000 and 5000; and 1125 bave each a population of between 500 and 2000. On every one of these benefices it is desirable that there should be a resident clergyman; but unless their value be augmented, it will in many cases be impossible to secure this advantage. The necessity of such augmentation will be greatly increased by the changes which we are about to recommend in the laws relating to pluralities and residence. The means which can be applied to effect this improvement are very far short of the amount required. Even were no addition to be made to the income of benefices having a population below 500, it would take no less a sum than £235,000 per annum to raise all benefices having a population of between 500 and 2000 to the annual value of £200; those having a population of 2000 and upwards to £300; and those having 5000 and upwards to £400 per annum.'
The same authority describes forcibly the state of the large towns :
The most prominent of those defects which cripple the energies of the Established Church, and circumscribe its usefulness, is the want of churches and ministers in the large towns and populous districts of the kingdom. The growth of the population has been so rapid as to
Church Inquiry Commission, Second Report, 1836.
outrun the means possessed by the Establishment, of meeting its spiritual wants; and the result has been that a vast proportion of the people are left destitute of the opportunities of public worship and Christian instruction, even when every allowance is made for the exertions of those religious bodies which are not in connexion with the Established Church. ... It will be sufficient to state the following facts as examples : ' 'Looking to those parishes only which contain each a population exceeding 10,000, we find that in London and its suburbs, including the parishes on either bank of the Thames, there are four parishes or districts, cach having a population exceeding 20,000, and containing an aggregate of 166,000 persons, with church-room for 8200 (not quite one-twentieth of the whole), and only eleven clergymen. There are twenty-one others, the aggregate population of which is 739,000, while the church-room is for 66,155 (not one-tenth of the whole), and only forty-five clergymen. There are nine others, with an aggregate population of 232,000, and church-room for 27,327 (not one-eighth of the whole), and only nineteen clergymen.
The entire population of these thirty-four parishes amounts to 1,137,000, while there is church-room only for 101,682. Supposing that church-room is required for one-third, there ought to be sittings for 379,000 persons. There is, therefore, a deficiency of 277,318 sittings, or, if we allow 25,000 for the number of sittings in proprietary chapels, the deficiency will be 252,318. Allowing one church for a population of 3000, there would be required, in these parishes, 379 churches, whereas there are in fact only 69, or, if proprietary chapels be added, about 100, leaving a deficiency of 279; while there are only 139 clergymen in a population exceeding a million. In the diocese of Chester, there are thirty-eight parishes or districts; in Lancashire, each with a population exceeding 10,000, containing an aggregate of 816,000 souls, with church-room for 97,700, or about one-eighth; the proportions varying in the different parishes from onesixth to one-twenty-third. In the diocese of York, there are twenty parishes or districts, each with a population exceeding 10,000, and with an aggregate of 402,000, while the church accommodation is for 48,000; the proportion varying from one-sixth to one-thirtieth. In the diocese of Lichfield and Coventry, there are sixteen parishes or districts, each having a population above 10,000, the aggregate being 235,000, with church-room for about 29,000; the proportions varying from one-sixth to one-fourteenth.'
Such was the state of things which in 1836 threatened the ruin of the Church of England as a National Church. In the country districts, livings miserably endowed were grouped together two or three under one pastor; and for the beautiful theory of the Church, of a minister of Christ in every parish, godly and learned, devoting his time to his people, and living by his calling in comfort among them, was presented instead the spectacle, in too many parishes, of a minister coming hastily
over on foot, or on a sorry horse, once a fortnight, or even more rarely, to conduct one service, and to give a third reading perhaps of that day's sermon, in order to hasten on to another duty of the same kind. In the very able pamphlet named at the head of this article, we are told of three brothers in the diocese of Norwich, who, as late as the year 1830, discharged the duties of no less than fifteen parishes. This may have been an extreme case; but the cases were numerous where an itinerant ministry was substituted for a resident one; where Sunday duty was all that was given, instead of constant pastoral care; where the minister, whose holy function was lowered by the mechanical effort to pack together into the compass of one day as many services and as many miles of road as possible, was wretchedly paid for the labour that depressed him and wore him out.
In 1837, the Pluralities Act was passed, which prohibited the holding together of benefices more than ten miles apart; which only permitted two benefices to be held together within that distance when they were of a limited value; and which allowed the bishop to insist on two services and sermons every Sunday, wherever the income of the benefices exceeded £100 a year. The work of the Ecclesiastical Commission ever since has been to give effect to this most important Act, at the same time that it was endeavouring to keep pace with the demands of the increasing populations in the large towns. The remarkable triad of Norwich brothers probably received for their almost fabulous labours, £300 a year amongst them. The fifteen future incumbents of the parishes must have an aggregate income of at least £4000, and each must have a house. The parishes themselves may supply about £1500 or £2000 of this, the rest must come from extraneous sources, and ten or a dozen parsonages must be built, towards which probably the parishes will contribute but a small part. The interval during which this change must be effected, is, of course, that of the natural lives of the incumbents holding benefices in plurality. As each case occurs, means ought to be found for the proper endowment of the parishes, in future to be held singly. At the same time, the masses of the large towns, passing rapidly into heathenism, ought to receive constant succour; and their cases do not depend upon the falling of existing lives, but exist already a patent and enormous evil, crying to be dealt with. Whence are to come the funds necessary for this great operation ?
In the year 1840 the Cathedral Act gave the first answer to this question. Its main object was to raise a common fund' for the Ecclesiastical Commissioners of England, already incorporated by a former Act, out of which they were to meet, first,