Page images
PDF
EPUB

been in a high degree mischievous, may, by change of circumstances, be rendered at another time clearly and highly beneficial. And yet there are those, who, thinking, or at least professing to have at heart the good of mankind, would, if they could, on the whole field of religion as well as government, shut an everlasting door against all change!

Come we now to the duties of imperfect obligation, as above defined.

Under the Church-of-England system, in here and there an instance,-one out of perhaps a dozen or a score,-a portion of time and labour, more or less considerable, may, in his own parish possibly, or even elsewhere, be seen employed in this walk of beneficence by a Church-of-England Parish Priest. Instances of this sort are even known, and with heartfelt pleasure viewed, and with the most cordial respect and affection requited-by the author of these pages.

But when and where any such good habit obtains, it is only as it were by accident : and, though without the name, the footing on which it stands is exactly that of a work of supererogation :-a work of which, while the non-performance passes altogether without notice, the performance is considered as matter of extraordinary merit: merit so extraordinary, as to make atonement for the eleven or the nineteen instances, in which all those good things, which should have been done, are left undone.

Necessary to the performance of duty in this line is the possession of a correspondent stock of information in that line of appropriate science, which may be termed Pastoral Statistics : an acquaintance with the population of the parish, in respect of all those circumstances in which the faculty of exercising these beneficent and pious acts with advantage depends : and as a part of it, an acquaintance with all the several dwellings in the parish, together with

the persons of their respective inhabitants. Inherent in the constitution of the Church of England, may be seen to be the branch of ignorance correspondent and opposite to this science ; call it anti-pastoral ignorance.

In so far as it is the necessary consequence of Non-Residence, this ignorance, though in this case not the less vicious, may be referred to the known category of invincible ignorance.

Of the fulness of pastoral statistic knowledge, imagination cannot figure to itself a more complete, a more incontestable, a more honourable proof, than that which has so long been exhibited in and by the work edited by Sir John Sinclair. Parishes in Scotland, 895: of the state of every one of them an account more or less instructive: and of all these accounts not one but was furnished by the Minister either of the Parish itself,—or in case of accident,-for example, death or temporary infirmity,-by the Minister of some adjacent Parish.

In and for England, whatsoever wishes may, under the influence of envy and shame, have been conceived towards the formation and delivery of any such account, have, by obvious impossibility, ever been rendered abortive.

Of this impossibility, as to a vast proportion of the whole number, the cause may be seen in the Returns made to the House of Commons on the subject of Non-Residence.*

. Among the papers, printed by order of the House of Commons, are to be seen Returns respecting Non-Residence for the three consecutive years, 1809, 1810, and 1811. In those for 1809, 11,194 being given as and for the total number of Incumbents, and 3,836 as and for the total number of Residents,—this leaves, for the total number of Non-Residents in that year, though not summed up, 7,358. In the next year, 1810, the total number of Incumbents is sunk from 11,194 to 10,261: decrease 933. But while there is this decrease in the total number of Incumbents,-Residents

Of Non-Residence, a necessary consequence is Antipastoral Ignorance. Unfortunately, not quite so neces.

and Non-Residents taken together,—the total number of Residents is in. creased from 3,836 to 4,421 : increase 585: the total dumber of Non-Resi. dents consequently diminished from 7,358 to 5,840: decrease 1,516. Ia 1811, the total number of Incumbents rises again: though short of the total number for the first year, 1809, by 393; it rises from 10,261—the number for the second year, 1810—to 10,801 : increase 540: but, in this third year, 1811, while the total number of Residents increases no more than from 4,421 to 4,490-increase 69—the total number of Non-Resia dents increases from the 5,840 to 6,311: increase 471.

In each year, to some purposes, and, amongst the rest, the one here in question, allowance will require to be made for the case, which, in the Return for the year 1809, is, by the Bishop of Norwich, termed the case of virtual residence. This is the case of those who, although the Par, sonage House is not the place, or among the places, of their respective residences, are, in the Returns, stated as being persons who “perform the Duties of their Parishes.” Of these, for the year 1809, the number expressly stated as being in this case, is 565: to these add 105, that being the number whose case is stated to be that of “ Residence in a Mansion within the Parish, belonging to Incumbent or Relative,"—in wbich case the performance of duty, though not expressly stated, may (it is supposed) be presumed,-(though in these cases, if it really had place, it seems odd enough that it should not hare been so stated)—with this addition, the total number of these Virtual Residents for that year will be 670. For the year 1810, without the addition of the numbers contaiped in this upincluded case, it appears to be—what in the Earl of Harrowby's Speech (pp. 3 and 19) it is stated to be, 970; with the addition, (viz. 62) 1032: for the year 1811, (which year, though the date of that Speech is 18th June, 1812, appears not to have come under his Lordship’s cognizance) it appears to have increased to 1433; with the like addition (added number 68) 1801. The Earl of Harrowby not having numbered among the “ DOERS OF THEIR OWN DUTY,"—(to use his Lordship’s words)—those who though“ residing in a Mansion within the Parish," have taken out Licences for Non-Residence, -is it possible, that, after all, by none of the individuals belonging to this omitted class, though residing, all of them, within their Parishes, any part of the duty of it was done?—The question seenis not altogether an unnatural one: for any answer to it, no other data are to be found. That, among the Incumbents returned as non-resident, a distinction should be made, in respect and in favour of those who, notwithstanding such their Nor

cessary is the connexion between the two opposites :-between Residence and Pastoral Knowledge. The drawingroom, the dining-room, the cellar, the stable, the dogkennel, of the Lord or Squire--with the state of all these agreeable receptacles, under the Church-of-England system, the most perfect acquaintance may, without any over-weening confidence, be expected at the hands of the Resident Minister, where there is any,--whether Rector, Vicar, or Curate : here is comfort in præsenti; here is hope of glory in futuro. But the poor inhabitants and their wants,--not altogether unhonoured are they, if to the man of God as many of their names are known, as of those of his Lordship’s hounds.

Compliments and observations on the place and the

Residence, “perform," or " do their own duties,” is undeniable. Unfortunately, altogether vagne, however, is the best information which it can afford. As to the duties of perfect obligation --whether in the parish in question the Incumbent resides or not,-such duties, as by law he is obliged to do, it may be presumed he does : all these in both cases, but not any more in either case. If so, then are the duties of įmperfect obligation the only ones, in regard to which Residence or Non-Residence can make any difference. In regard to these, so far as concerns the actual performance of them, very little difference probably has place; but, in regard to physical facility as to the performance of them, it is susceptible of variation upon a very large scale. Many are the cases in which two contiguous livings are held by the same person : in these instances it may happen, that the distance of the Parsonage House from the Church, which it does not belong to, is not so great as from the Church which it does belong to : thus stands the matter at one end of the scale: at the other end, stands the case in which the distance of the officiating Minister's place of residence from the Church of his Parish is so great, that, if not all his powers, all his reasonably expectable exertions, are exhausted by the riding to the Church once every Sunday to do the necessary daty there, and then back again. In any system in which the exigencies of the service constituted the standard of reference, two or three contiguous parishes would, in many instances, be united: and, in these instances, a proportionable number of cases of Non-Residence wonld thas disappear.

weather omitted, follows a dialogue between a zealous Church-of-England Bishop and the Oxford Graduate.

Zealot.-What? Give a Parish boy the Holy Ghost? Give this urchin the power to remit or retain sins ?

Graduate.-Why not? As to the Holy Ghost-whatever he or it is either he or it is, or is not, at your disposal : if he or it is not, why pretend to dispose of him or it? If he or it is, what should hinder your giving him or it to the boy, as well as to them to whom you are in use to give him or it? As to the power of remitting or retaining sins,-produce this power of yours: shew any such restriction in it, as can prevent your giving it to the boy, or to any one else to whom you would please to give it?“ Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted 6 to them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are re, “ tained.” Thus said Jesus (John, xx. 23.) to his Apostles. If then ye are the same person, each of you, as one of those same Apostles, ye can, every one of you, remit sinsthe sins of any sinning creature: if ye are the same person, each of you, as Jesus, ye can give to any rational creature this same power of remitting sins. In this case, ye can, with exactly as much ease, give this power to the Parish-Boy, as to the Parish-Minister.

Zealot.--Give it to the urchin ?-Well :-suppose as much. But if he had it, would he not abuse it?

Graduate. Not he indeed. If you yourself, for example, are Jesus, that will be your care ; and not any the least danger is there of your giving the power to any creature that will abuse it. But neither will he, if, for argument sake, you are not Jesus. When, by a priest of your making the sins are forgiven, still it is always according to your Rubrick, and your formulary of Absolution. By the Rubrick effectual security is afforded, against all abuse in respect of the occasion on which the operation is

« PreviousContinue »