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necessary to administer justice, or the judicial habits and training requisite for such functions. The probability is that they would render themselves liable to actions at law, and cause irritation and resistance on the part of the offenders and their friends. And this is the more important to be considered, because the administration of spiritual criminal justice is a matter of infinite difficulty, requiring extraordinary tact, temper, and judgment, which can only be acquired by long and laborious study.

The temporal judge has only to apply the law as he finds it to the facts of the case, and proportion the punishment (within the limits of his power) to the circumstances of the offence; but the spiritual judge has a further and a more arduous duty to perform. The spiritual judge must most carefully avoid or suppress scandal, which is calculated to produce a prejudicial effect on the minds of the people, or otherwise to injure the interests of the Church. He must administer the law pro salute animi, having regard to the advantage of the soul of the offender, and so as not only to punish him, but also to bring him to repentance. Thus the canonists teach that excommunication is not to be used where its probable effect will be rather to harden and irritate than to amend. The external coercive power is entrusted to the Church by the State, partly it is true for the purpose of maintaining the external order and police of the Church considered as an institution established by law; but this is the inferior purpose, for the civil magistrate could do this. The real and great purpose of that external power is to enable the Church to carry into effect more completely than it otherwise could, that moral and religious discipline which forms the practical part of Christianity. It is to enable the Church to administer completely the spiritual power known under the name of the power of the keys. That power is purely spiritual. But there are men who would defy a purely spiritual power. The Church therefore has an external forum and a power of coercion entrusted to her by the Christian prince, which are essential means for the attainment of the very same objects which are the end of the spiritual power of the keys. It follows from these principles that the ecclesiastical criminal jurisdiction is one of the means by which the divine mission of the Church is fulfilled. It is a part of the penitential system of Christianity, and in that sense has a quasi-sacramental character. Whenever it is administered apart from the most lively appreciation and realization of these principles, it loses its real character, and instead of salutary results, -peace, edification, amendment, and repentance,--it causes discord, scandal, and hardness of heart. How arduous, therefore, is the office of the spiritual judge! How few are the persons to whom it ought to be entrusted,

and what care the rulers of the Church should bestow on their selection! It would scarcely be prudent or judicious in the rural deans and chapters to undertake a task of such magnitude, even if it were entrusted to them by the law, which it never will be ; and we say this, meaning nothing but what is most respectful to them.

The rural courts christian had a civil as well as a criminal contentious jurisdiction. Mr. Dansey produces many authorities to show their power in causes relating to tithes, mortuaries, and other dues, and even in testamentary and matrimonial causes and beneficiary matters. He then proceeds to the consideration of the decay and dissolution of rural chapters, particularly in England.

He attributes that dissolution principally to the 20th Constitution of Cardinal Othobon, A.D. 1237, which introduced the archdeacons to sit in them, and this introduction of a superior functionary or his official eclipsed the rural deans, who were thus discouraged from the customary convening of the chapters.

“ By such means,” remarks Kennet, “these ancient chapters became obsolete and abrogated, while, so far as they were courts of Christianity, they resolved themselves into one standing ecclesiastical court in every archdeaconry; and so far as they were conventions of the parochial clergy, they passed into solemn visitations, in which the clergy of every deanery should assemble once or twice a year, but rather cited as delinquents than admitted as judges and co-assessors ; an honour and privilege which remained no longer than they were an ecclesiastical corporation of rural deans and chapters.”

The revival of rural chapters is the next object of Mr. Dansey's consideration, and very important and interesting it undoubtedly is. He makes many very sensible remarks on

the expediency of such a revival; we have, however, anticipated the chief points of that question. When our readers consider the antiquity of the institution, its harmony with the earliest constitution of the Church, and the many uses to which it may be applied, they cannot, we think, hesitate to say that it ought to be revived. We mean to say revived in its voluntary jurisdiction ; for we agree with Mr. Dansey that its contentious jurisdiction cannot at present be restored with advantage.

We, however, do not agree with the learned writer as to the expediency of reviving these institutions in the shape of Church union societies, or in any other shape than that which properly belongs to them ab antiquo. Let us have the real old institutions of the Church, and no new contrivances. Let us have

" *

• Horæ Dec. Rur. vol. ii. p. 110, el seq.

the old names as well as the old things themselves. We feel confident that Mr. Dansey himself will agree with us. And why should the rural chapters or synods not be revived in their own proper form?

We have before us a record of a rural chapter held in the present year in the deanery of Trigg Major, in the diocese of Exeter, with the sanction of the great prelate who presides over that diocese. That very interesting document begins with the form of citation, and then goes on to state as follows: that is to say,-1. Those of the clergy who complied with the citation met at the vicarage of the church of Morwenstow, of which the rural dean is incumbent, before morning prayer. 2. They walked in procession to Church, which had previously been filled by the laity of the parish. 3. The morning service was performed by the vicar of Poundstock, the junior incumbent. 4. The laity withdrew, and the doors of the church were closed. 5. The clergy assembled in the nave, and the chapter was opened by a statement of the case of rural chapters, read by the dean.

In that statement he very ably, and in a spirit truly churchmanlike, set forth the chief features of the history and functions of rural deans and their chapters; and then submitted to the assembly the following seven rules to govern the proceedings of the chapter :

I. The privileges usually conceded to presidents of assemblies shall reside in the rural dean ; e.g. power to moderate the language of discussion, to maintain a grave and decent order, and, under responsibility to the chapter, to exercise a sound discretion with regard to what questions he shall submit to the synod.

“ II. Every member who intends to propose a subject for deliberation shall deliver the title thereof, in writing, with his name, into the hands of the rural dean.

“ III. The rural dean may submit that title to the chapter for their consideration. If the larger proportion of the members adjudge it to be a fitting matter for deliberation, it shall be forthwith discussed, or at the next chapter, as shall also be determined by vote.

“ IV. The manner of voting shall be on this wise-the members who object shall signify their judgment by rising from their seats ; those who assent shall remain seated.

“ V. The rural dean, under correction of the chapter, shall sum up the minutes of deliberation ; if so called on by his brethren to do, he shall submit any single question to the lord bishop for decision or reply; or if there should be conflicting opinions on any important subject, the dean shall, when so enjoined, place them fairly before his lordship for resolution of doubt. But the name of no presbyter shall be stated, nor the side of the question which he espoused.

“VI. The subjects introduced shall be such as have rigid refer

ence to the members in some department of their duty as parish priests.

“ VII. A correct detail of the proceedings of the first synod shall be laid before the Bishop, and whatsoever therein his lordship shall condemn shall be immediately discontinued."*

The sixth rule especially is very judicious, as it must ensure the practical utility of the subjects of deliberation, and prevent the chapter from degenerating into a clerical debating society. The rural dean then proceeded to consider briefly certain accessories of the meeting, and among others the surplice, vested in which the clergy assembled in chapter. We must take leave to observe that, in our opinion, he attached too much importance to the surplice, as indeed some other very excellent clergymen have done. The surplice is not a sacerdotal vestment, for it is worn by deacons, and in the continental churches by persons in minor orders. It is, indeed, scarcely an ecclesiastical vestment, for it is constantly worn by laymen in our own and in other churches. As for the typical associations which have been connected with the surplice, they belong more properly to the Alb. But we admit that the surplice is a very proper vestment for the clergy in synod, and one agrecable to ancient usage.

The “Record” ends with the following brief outline of the business transacted at the first chapter of the deanery of Trigg Major.

“ The seven rules introduced by the rural dean were then separately proposed and seconded, discussed, and unanimously adopted.

“A petition to both houses of parliament now in session was introduced and approved, and the rural dean was called on to sign it in behalf of the chapter.

“ A subject was then introduced for discussion, The admission to other rites of the Church of children who had received baptism from laymen.

" It was resolved that the above subject be fully considered in the next chapter.

“ A proposal was introduced that the rural dean do search for authorities as to the presence of clergymen from other deaneries at such chapters, or of any lay person. The result to be laid before the next assembly.

“A discussion as to the grounds of inquiry into churches, houses, burial grounds, &c. within the jurisdiction of a rural dean. To be stated formally in the next chapter.

“ The chapter dissolved.
“ The evening service as usual in this church."

* Hawker's Rural Synods, pp. 15, 16.

will en

With regard to the suggested question of the admission of the laity, there is manifest danger of causing a desire for display by introducing a numerous body of hearers, especially women, who we think ought to be, at any rate, excluded. An assemblage of wives, sisters, and other female relations and friends of the clergy, would endanger the utility and the business-like character of the chapter most seriously. The patrons of churches within the deanery, being by the ecclesiastical law the first laymen in those churches, ought, however, not to be excluded from the chapter. But these we only throw out as humble suggestions to the clergy of the deanery of Trigg Major.

This publication by the vicar of Morwenstow is an interesting document, which we cordially recommend to both clergy and laity, and we trust that the success of this first attempt courage others to follow in his footsteps.

The subject of rural chapters thus publicly put forward, could not fail to attract the attention of the bishops. We will confine ourselves to the latest of the episcopal opinions to which we refer, because it is most likely to secure considerable notice at present.

The Bishop of Gloucester, in a charge delivered at his visitation held in last August, expressed himself as follows:

“Ever since I have held my present situation I have been in the habit of recommending that my clergy should hold frequent meetings together, to consider the state of their parishes, and to give and to receive counsel on matters of interest or difficulty ; in short, upon all such matters as concern the right discharge of the functions of a clergyman. If such meetings take place under the auspices of the rural deans, it will afford you an opportunity of communicating with your diocesan on all questions that may arise. I shall not disguise from you that one cause which induces me to recommend to you such meetings, is the hope that they may be the means of bringing together in friendly associations persons whom difference of sentiment or party have kept asunder, and much asperity of feeling been imbibed in consequence. Were those individuals sometimes in the habit of meeting on common ground, and for the purpose of advancing objects in which they could concur, and about which no difference of sentiment existed, a great and important object would be gained. In some places, as I understand, the ancient synodical meetings have been revived, with the addition of such solemnities as authority may justify. You are, no doubt, aware of the history of these meetings, which I earnestly recommend to my clergy, intituled, 'Horæ Decanica Rurales. Whether such solemn meeting could be adopted with advantage under the present circumstances of this diocese, I am not prepared to decide ; but in this case, as in the other, I desire to consult the feelings of my clergy, and should it meet your approbation, I shall be happy to give it my sanction, but with the distinct

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