20 FEBRUARY 1886, Page 3

The new "House of Laymen "—that is, the standing com-

mittee of gentlemen nominated by the Diocesan Conferences to assist the Convocation of Canterbury—was opened on Tuesday by the Archbishop in a speech of which we have spoken else- where. It was most cautious and reserved. The Archbishop admitted that to ask the assistance of the laity was a primitive custom ; but he intimated a fear that if the laymen pressed too forward, Convocation itself might unconsciously disappear. He also hinted that it was for the clergy to maintain the "un- broken thread of faith and administration," as if laymen had had nothing to do with that. He commended the five reforms mentioned below to the attention of the new " House," and added that he could not see how representation of the Church of England was possible while two Convocations existed, a remark which will bear fruit. It is quite clear that if there is to be any preparation even for Synodal action, the ancient division of the Church into two Provinces must be abolished. It has no justification now in the circum- stances of the Kingdom, and is fatal from the beginning to any plan of general representation, whether clerical or lay. For the rest, we should say the Archbishop rather hoped earnestly for assistance from the laity, than quite believed he should get it.