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tributed their property in order to convey the blessings of the Church of England to other lands, there is also a frustration of the intentions of those who, as clergy of the Church of England, have proceeded to the Colonies. They find themselves liable to separation from the Church at home, either because the Bishop of the Colonial Diocese resigns his patent from the Crown, or because the Diocesan Synod, of which he is virtually compelled to be a member, passes Acts contrary to the principles of the Church of England. In many cases, a clergyman placing himself under a Colonial episcopate, finds that he must bind himself by the Acts, prospective as well as retrospective, of the Diocesan Synod, although it appears, according to a recent decision, that in many of our Colonies Dioceses cannot be created by Letters Patent. The injurious effects to the Colonies are manifest. Clergy who have been educated at the English Universities, and who might on many grounds be disposed to transfer their energies to a prosperous Colony, are deterred by the thought of ceasing to be clergy of the Church of England, which they know and venerate, and of becoming ministers of some Colonial Church, which can be little known, and may be less venerated. The risk is too evident; the uncertainty is too great. Rising young clergymen may be pressed by the difficulty of obtaining promotion in the Church, and by the importunity of securing provision for a family. They may have manfully responded to the injunction,
“Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito;" and have become convinced that the greater evils of Eng. lish, may wisely be exchanged for the less evils of Colonial, life. They may have resolved to incur much risk. But the lottery of a Colonial Church, as exhibited in Colonial Synods, will lead them rather to struggle with any amount of temporal difficulties in England, than to plunge into unknown ecclesiastical embarrassments in a Colony. The great majority of such earnest and devoted men are resolved to live and die as clergy of the Church of England. Their circumstances are not desperate. They are not prepared to say,
“I have set my life upon a cast,
And I will stand the hazard of the die." Thus the wild and independent action of Colonial Synods inclines the energetic and enterprising graduate of an English University to remain struggling at home, instead of settling abroad.
Nor is the division and confusion which must follow the present independent action of more than forty Colonial Bishops to be overlooked.
The laity in the Colonies are, as a body, attached to the Church of England, which in its services reminds them of
English life. “All here is different from England on the week-day; but on Sunday, in church, one seems at home,” is the remark of many a Colonist, and the words express the general feeling of the class.
The Missionary Societies of the Church must also increasingly feel the confusion of the present system of Colonial Synods. The Missionaries are requested to attend the Synod; and while their refusal is almost interpreted as disobedience to the Bishop, their compliance is an expenditure of valuable time on questions in which they can only be very remotely interested. For example, it is a standing regulation of the Chureh Missionary Society, that “every congregation gathered from the heathen is to be settled and governed according to the constitution and discipline of the Church of England.” And again, “ The services which the Missionaries perform are in strict conformity with the ritual and discipline of the Church.”
Now it is difficult to understand how a Missionary, sent forth by a Society of the Church of England with such instructions, can at the same time obey an independent Diocesan Synod, the acts of which are not subjected to revision by any authority of the Church at home. The instruction of the Missionary Society to its Missionaries is, in the words of the Great Master, “Go, preach the Gospel to every creature;” but the invitation of the Colonial Synod, in their “ Acts and Resolutions,” is, “ Go to, let us build us a tower whose top may reach unto heaven.” In the one case, “lively stones” are to be builded together “ for a habitation of God through the Spirit”; in the other, an ecclesiastical edifice is to arise, which may differ from the Church of England as much in magnitude and style as the vast
small and modernized Grecian cathedral of Capetown.
It should also be remembered, that many of the laity in the Colonies are so strongly attached to the Church of England, that if the Colonial Bishops should become separate and distinct from that Church, they would provide for themselves bona fide clergy of the Church of England, who could not, of course, be subject to the Bishop of the district in which they were placed.
The present independent action of Colonial Synods tends, therefore, manifestly to a frustration of the intentions of those who have provided the property of the Church in the Colonies,is a serious grievance to the clergy who proceed to such Colonies,—will cause difficulty to the Missionary Societies of the Church, and will embarrass the laity throughout our Colonial empire.
Such are the evils of these Diocesan Synods. On the other hand, it must be admitted that the Church in the Colonies should have freedom of action suited to her circumstances.
The question, therefore, arises, What is the actual position of the Colonial Church as to law, order, and freedom? It is supposed, and assumed, that law does not exist; that order cannot be maintained ; and that freedom of action is restricted. The Colonial Bishops who were adverse to Synods on leaving Eng. land, and who have become favourable to such Synods on reaching the Colonies, usually affirm that the Colonial Synod is the best safeguard against episcopal despotism. It is only necessary to draw attention to the separate and uncontrolled action of a number of Bishops in different Colonies, in order to be convinced that the unity of the Church, as to principles, doctrine, and even liturgy, may soon be lost under such a system.
St. Paul, as a wise master-builder, laid the foundation of Churches, and left others to build in harmony with the foundation thus laid. The Colonial Bishops seem, if we may for a moment adopt the imagery of the Apostle, determined to construct a Colonial Church by allowing at least forty different styles in the same edifice. A Committee charged with the erection of an important fabric, after having resolved on assigning fractional parts of the structure to different competing architects, ought to anticipate the incongruous and ludicrous effect of their combined wisdom.
But it may be asked, “Is the Church in the Colonies so completely without law, order, and freedom ?" Dismissing the special cases of the Indian, Canadian, West Indian, and some of the Australian episcopates, for which provision has been made by Imperial, Colonial, or the union of Imperial and Colonial legislation; and omitting the cases of Crown Colonies, where letters patent have been issued, and no Colonial constitution exists; let the difficult case be considered, where the Crown has issued letters patent after the Colony has received a Constitution.
In such a case, experience has shown that law is provided alike for Bishops and Clergy.
By deliberately entertaining the appeal of Bishop Colenso against the Bishop of Capetown, the Judicial Committee of Privy Council clearly expressed their jurisdiction both over the Bishop of Capetown and the Bishop of Natal. In several cases of conflict between Colonial Bishops and their clerg and particularly in the case of Long v. Bishop of Capetown, the Judicial Committee affirmed their power to redress the grievance which caused the appeal to them.*
* The Royal Supremacy enables the Crown to exercise authority over a Colonial Bishop, even though his letters patent may, for many purposes therein
described, be invalid, and though the Crown may have been unable to give the Bishop any legal jurisdiction over the clergy.
A corrective power therefore already exists, whether as regards bishops or clergy, in the Colonies, and this appeal to the Judicial Committee is parallel to the appeals per. mitted from the civil courts in the Colonies. Indeed, so long as the sovereignty of the British Crown exists in any Colony, so long must the ultimate appeal be to the Crown, as well in causes ecclesiastical as civil. The Queen's temporal sovereignty and ecclesiastical jurisdiction must be co-existent. Whenever a Colony may become independent of the Crown, the Royal Supremacy will cease with the cessation of the sovereignty.
Provision, therefore, is made for law and order. It remains to be seen whether the Colonial Church can possess freedom of action while thus united to the Church at home.
This question seems easily answered in the affirmative. Distinguishing between the spiritual and temporal affairs of the Church, it would appear that the Royal Supremacy, the right of appeal to the Judicial Committee of Privy Council, the oaths of canonical obedience taken both by Bishops and clergy, the obligation to use the Prayer Book, and the subscription to the Articles, are sufficient for the preservation of the unity and spiritual interests of the Church. These con. ditions are not burdensome, and if maintained will make all the difference between the broad but not loose foundations of the Church of England, and the narrow but not firm basis of a small Colonial Church.
Of the temporal interests of the Church the Government and civil courts of a Colony will take charge. Already in the Colony of the Cape of Good Hope, Acts have been passed enabling the Bishop of Capetown to transfer to other bishops at the Cape property vested in the See of Capetown; while provision is made for the sale or exchange of church property, subject to certain consents as to sale, and to certain other consents as to reinvestment. In fact, the colonial legislatures are ever ready to make laws, and the colonial courts to do justice, in reference to the temporal interests of the Church.
Colonial Synods may consequently dismiss from consideration the ecclesiastical constitution of the Church, which is in safe custody; and by maintaining the constitution of the Church as it is, the laity of our Colonies may expect, what they wisely and earnestly desire, a supply of duly qualified clergy, prepared in the Universities of the mother country; but the creation of an independent Colonial Church must entail the preparation of their own clergy. The temporalities of the Church being committed to the custody of Colonial law, it follows that the great object of every Diocesan Synod should be the consideration of those questions of Diocesan finance, local management, educa
tion, church extension, which are always necessary, and the discussion of all subjects relating to the prosperity of the Church, which from time to time may arise. Whatever funds are raised will be safely kept for the services of a Church whose constitution is well defined ; and should the sanction of the legislature be required for fundamental changes, the example of the diocese of Melbourne seems to indicate a safe method of adapting the Church of England to Colonial circumstances.
We cannot, therefore, see the necessity for that wholesale ecclesiastical legislation attempted in Colonial Synods. The position of the Church in territory subject to the British Crown is not ambiguous. The law is clear. An ecclesiastical case in the Colonies passes through Colonial civil courts to the Judicial Committee as the court of final appeal. A similar case in England passes through the ecclesiastical courts to the same court of appeal. Is it not unwise to attempt the creation, in the Colonies, of those ecclesiastical courts which are regarded as of doubtful advantage at home? Is it not still more unwise to attempt to give, by imperial legislation, a quasi sanction to those“ tribunals ” which synods, shrinking from the unacceptable term “ecclesiastical courts," have appointed in various Colonial dioceses ? Can the Crown and Imperial Parliament give any such sanction? May not any Colony already possessing legislative functions rightly resist this practical resumption of some of the powers granted in its constitution ?
These questions indicate breakers a-head, on which the reckless and uncertain current of legislation by Synods may soon dash that good ship the Colonial Church, which has hitherto crossed many seas with safety to herself and with the message of salvation to others. Surely, instead of a restless desire for needless legislation, it may be well to rejoice in the adaptability of the Reformed Church to the Colonies, in the extension, as well as security, of her spiritual and temporal interests, and to remember that our Church constitution was obtained by men who deliberately sacrificed much in their day because they believed that they thus secured much for the churchmen of future days.
We earnestly hope that Colonial Bishops will consider the original cost and present value of the Church constitution we enjoy ; that they will weigh the arguments adduced for the application of that constitution to the circumstances of Colonial life; and that, when tempted to diocesan and independent action, they will remember that to them is assigned the difficult but honourable task described by Demosthenes, Πολλάκις δοκεί το φύλαξαι ταγαθά του κτήσασθαι χαλεπώτερον είναι.