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Art. I.-1. Charge delivered by the Lord Bishop of Gloucester
and Bristol, at his Triennial Visitation, held in August, 1844.
London: Rivington. 2. Hora Decanice Rurales. By WILLIAM DANSEY, M. A.
Prebendary of Salisbury, Rural Dean. London: Rivington.
1844. Second Edition. 3. Rural Synods. By the Vicar of Morwenstour, Cornwall.
London: Edwards and Hughes; Burns. 1844. A REVIVAL of discipline is now actively going on within the Church of England. The clergy and laity are no longer contented with the performance of divine service in their churches, and the legal regularity of ecclesiastical duties; they are not satisfied with the laborious ingenuity of those who think that by the intricate and uncouth verbiage of Acts of Parliament the Church will be adapted to the exigencies of the times, and rendered capable of withstanding her enemies, and satisfying all the wants of her flock. The insufficiency of modern legislation, and the mere administration of property for the attainment of those great ends, has now become an undeniable proposition in the eyes of all but pedants or superficial reasoners. Instead of confining themselves to these things, Churchnuen now inquire into the origin and nature of institutions which have long been neglected as antiquated rubbish, or at least as no longer required in these enlightened times. They look back to ancient experience, instead of relying on their own inventive powers. They no longer suppose that to the present generation was reserved the faculty of intuitively knowing all the arcana of ecclesiastical policy and government; and they see the danger of wounding, by experiments and new inventions, principles which have their roots deep in the Divine institutions of the Church.
NO. XLVII.- N.S.
We look upon Mr. Dansey's book with peculiar interest, as an indication of this improved state of public opinion and feeling in ecclesiastical affairs. A few years ago such a book would have been considered a mere matter of antiquarian curiosity. Sylvanus Urban would have made honourable mention of it, and it would have lain on the table of the Society of Antiquaries beside a broken pot or a pair of rusty spurs, while the active men, carrying on the real business of the Church, would have turned away to an Act of Parliament, the report of a society, or papers printed by order of the Ilouse of Commons. But there is now no danger of its being neglected by practical men. It will be read and studied with a view to the revival of the institution of rural deaneries in all its completeness, and not as a mere record of what that institution was in former times. It will be read, not as a mere history of the past, but as affording practical knowledge for the future; and in that practical light we propose to bring before our readers the leading points of Mr. Dansey's book, and the chief principles and features of the institution and government of rural deaneries.
We must, however, begin by taking a somewhat wider range than the author of the Horæ Decanicæ Rurales, in order to enable the reader to form a distinct idea of the place which that institution occupies in the economy of the Church.
The office of the parochial clergy is held by the canonists to be of divine institution;* for, as the bishops represent the apostles, so the parochial clergy represent the seventy disciples. It is, however, clear, that during the first two centuries there were no separate titles or benefices, and no distinct parishes.
The whole diocese of each bishop was governed and administered by the bishop as one parish, with the assistance of the body of his clergy who resided with him at his episcopal see. Thus the clergy formed an ecclesiastical senate, over which the bishop presided. They performed their functions under his direction, either in the town where he resided, or in the churches to which, from time to time, they were sent. Thus the bishop alone held a permanent office or benefice; and the revenues of the Church, which consisted in the alms and offerings of the faithful, were received by him, and he distributed them amongst priests, deacons, and inferior clergy, and the poor. Moreover, he did nothing of importance without the advice of his clergy. He was the president and supreme head of the assembly of the clergy. Thus the Fourth Council of Carthage says, “Ut Episcopus in Ecclesia et consessus Presbyterorum sublimior sedeat;"+ and St. Ignatius says, “Omnes episcopum sequimini ut Christus
* Van Espen, Jus Eccles. Univ. par. i. tit. iii. cap. 1, passim. + Decret. Dist. 95. Can. 10.