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elector' is indefinite, superfluous, and provocative. What is meant by 'belonging to another religious body'? No explanation is given. If a modern Wesleyan claims, as all Wesleyans of the first generation did, to be a member of the National Church, it will be because he wishes for reunion. And now, when reunion is being seriously advocated in many quarters, why should a new barrier be raised between the Church of England and Nonconformists ?
This question of the Franchise is vital. The proposal of the Report means more than appears on the surface. To understand what it involves we must compare three passages which occur in different chapters. On p. 32 we read that the Committee 'desire to restore to the whole body of Church members its original position of authority.' On p. 41 a Church member is defined as an adult who has been baptised and confirmed, etc. Those two statements give the key to an important sentence on p. 3:
'We are sure that nothing but a restoration of self-government to the Church such as we contemplate will enable it to act effectively as the organ of the spiritual life of that great part of the nation which looks to it for guidance and help.'
So the Church' means only those who have the franchise, while the great mass of those who fondly believe themselves to be members are only outsiders who 'look to the Church for guidance.' Autocracy in the Church having broken down, the only practical alternative is confessedly some sort of representative government. But what the Committee propose is an aristocracy, of which the basis is partly fictitious and wholly debateable. And that is what they assume to be restoring the original position of the second and third centuries.
Public opinion, which wavered at first, is moving towards a franchise bestowed upon all adults who sign a declaration that they have been baptised and that they claim to be members of the Church of England.'* But, if it be so bestowed, will it be exercised? That depends upon the nature of the functions which are to be assigned to the Parochial Councils. If the suggestions made on p. 47 of the Report were to be adopted; if the Parochial
* Memorandum of the Council of the Churchmen's Union,' p. 4.
Council were to control the finances and keep the electoral roll; if it had a real share in the patronage and in the ordering of services, and power to levy a voluntary ratethen parishioners would think it worth while to vote at elections and be anxious to serve on a body so important. But, after drawing this fair picture, the Committee entrust its realisation to chance. All the attractive features are omitted from the Enabling Bill, which assigns to the Parochial Council the bare duty of electing representatives to serve on another body, and leaves all the rest of its functions to be determined by the future Church Council. That is like ordering the roof of their house to lay the foundations. If the constitution of these primary assemblies is of so great importance, their powers and duties, as well as the franchise on which they rest, must be defined by an Act of Parliament.
The Church Council has attracted less attention than it deserves, merely because it is a statutory reproduction of the Representative Church Council, with which the public is familiar. But careful observers are aware that a constitution which suits an elderly debating society is not necessarily well adapted for a legislative assembly. They remark that, while the general idea of the Council, described above, is quite acceptable, two of the particular proposals would be fatal to efficiency. These concern the size of the Council and the number of ex officio members. Assuming, as the Report does, that the two Lower Houses will usually sit together, they will form a body of 645 members, without any representatives of the Welsh Church. That is just about the size of the House of Commons, which is notoriously unwieldy. But the House of Commons sits for more than half the year; its members mostly know one another; they constantly meet in the lobbies; and they have their own methods of suppressing too exuberant speakers. In an assembly of the same size, meeting only for a short time, consisting mainly of fluent speakers, who are mostly strangers to each other, and subject to no party discipline, what hope would there be of transacting business? Plainly the numbers ought to be reduced; and this can easily be done. The Clerical House, according to the Scheme, contains no less than 117 ex officio members, of Vol. 229.-No. £55.
whom 91 are archdeacons, and 25 elected by cathedral chapters. In a scheme for representative government, such a proportion of officials is really too great an anomaly to be tolerated. If their number were reduced by two-thirds, and a corresponding reduction made in the Lay House, the assembly would not be too large to get through its work.
What is that work to be? About this, as about some other important matters, the Report is neither clear nor consistent. A doubt sometimes suggests itself whether the able and distinguished men who signed this curious document had really read it through. At least they cannot have compared the five descriptions of the matters with which the Council may deal.
(1) The Church Council should be given full power to legislate on ecclesiastical affairs' (p. 49).
(2) The Church of England has inherent authority to deal with all matters of doctrine, worship, and ritual' (p. 50).
(3) The Council . . . may formulate its judgment by resolution upon any matter concerning the Church of England' (p. 78).
(4) Any measure touching doctrinal formulæ . . . shall be initiated only in the House of Bishops' (p. 77).
(5) 'It does not belong to the functions of the Council to issue any statement purporting to define the doctrine of the Church of England on any question of theology (p. 78).
What does the Report really mean? May the Council deal with questions of doctrine? The first statement confers full power' in general; the second expressly claims the right to deal with doctrine; the third encourages the Council to exercise that right; the fourth prescribes a somewhat hampering mode of procedure; and then the fifth forbids everything of the kind! Again, may the Council deal with property? Apparently most of the Committee believe that right to be included in 'full power to legislate on ecclesiastical affairs.' But
So do the Bishop of Oxford (p. 248) and Lord Parmoor (p. 72) in their separate Memoranda. But they seem to make the claim on behalf of the Church,' and not of the Church Council. Perhaps a similar distinction is latent in No. 2 above.
Mr Douglas Eyre expressly denies this, and Lord Parmoor does so by implication.
Now, if the contention of pages 444-447 be just, the definition of doctrine and radical changes in the tenure and distribution of endowments are the two essentials of Church reform; and the utterances of a Council which could not deal with them would be little more than empty clamour. As the famous Free Kirk case has shown, the connexion between the definition of doctrine and the control of property is undeniable. The Free Churches have taken warning, and are determined to claim the power of spiritual development which at present belongs only to the Established Church of Scotland. It is, therefore, nothing less than paradoxical that a Bill to confer 'spiritual independence' upon the Church of England should expressly withhold from its governing Council the power to define doctrine. The Convocations, indeed, are to be left in existence, and they have not lost their legal power to define doctrine, though it is somewhat rusty with disuse. But the establishment of a Church Council cannot but render the Convocations as impotent as the comitia curiata of early Rome became in the presence of the comitia centuriata. Thus, in fact, there will be no organ of the English Church which can perform the function that holds the first place in the plan (p. 36) for reuniting the Churches of Scotland.
Is this really so? Or has provision been made in a curious sentence on p. 78? Nothing in this constitution, nor in any proceeding of the Council, shall interfere with the exercise by the Episcopate of the powers and functions inherent in them.' Interrupting, as it does, a business-like statement, this mysterious sentence reminds us painfully of the famous phrase by which Becket nullified his assent to the Constitutions of Clarendon. It has the ring of 'Saving my order.' Now, in the constitution of a representative council, whose work is of great national importance, there is no room for a mysterious reserve. Plain men will insist upon a definition of these inherent powers and functions,' and enquire whether they are the same as those now recognised by the law, or whether they cover some new claim, of which the interpretation is left to the future. They
will remember that it was the claim to an inherent power, superseding the law, that ruined the Pope's authority in England, and overthrew the monarchy of the Stuarts.
Let us interpret the paragraph in the most innocent sense, and assume that it is not intended to give bishops alone the power to deal with doctrine. Then the deadlock remains, for the Church has no organ to express her developed faith. Why should such power be denied her? The mutual fears of opposed parties, which knitted an unholy alliance against Prayer-book reform, and long paralysed the Convocation of Canterbury, cannot be the main reason. Rather is it a survival of the mediæval jealousy which forbade the laity to touch the mysteries of doctrine. Such a feeling is implied in the Report; it is openly proclaimed in some clerical assemblies.
Such claims of privilege are out of date, for the laity are no longer in a state of pupilage. The Reformation of the 16th century came when the laity awoke to the fact that they were morally superior to the priests. Still, they were content to leave doctrine in the hands of its traditional custodians. Now a second Reformation is in progress, because the laity feel that intellectually they are more than equal to the clergy. Philosophy and science are almost entirely in the hands of laymen; and many laymen are far more serious students of theology than most of its professed exponents. They are justly impatient of clerical dictation, and resolved to claim a voice in the determination of doctrinal disputes. In one way or another that anima Britannica naturaliter Christiana,' to which so many of our Army Chaplains pay an astonished and reverent homage, must be allowed the suitable means of expression, the denial of which has concealed its true character even from itself. When that is granted, when the Christian laity are actively represented in the councils of the Church, England will wake up to find herself far more truly Christian than she knew.
Some other questions concerning the powers of the Church Council, though important, do not call for a long discussion. The claim that it should have authority to regulate worship and ritual is generally conceded. There is general sympathy, too, with the desire to establish