5 DECEMBER 1885, Page 3

A strong bodyof Cambridge professors and divi ne s, —which

will, wehelieve, include more than half the heads of houses and two- thirds of the resident professors in the University;—are about to present a declaration to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, protesting against the recent attempt to, force prematurely to the front the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church of England before even the facts are generally known on which the question must tarn, and urging, at the same time, that the hour has come for such a reform of the Church of England as may give the laity of that Church a substatitial inlinenc,e in the government and administration of her affairs. The names of the leaders who urge this upon the rulers of the Church will command universal respect ; and we believe that the moment is most favourable for their undertaking. The English people have at last been made aware that the Church is in a critical position, and they do not very well understand what that position is. The Bishops and Clergy have hadthings too much in their own hands. Very few of the laity, indeed, are intimately ac- quainted with theaffairs of the Church. A great chasm appears to yawn between the Episcopacy and the people. Till the present Archbishop of Canterbury pleaded for the Franchise Bill in the House of Lords, the Church had chiefly exerted herself to suppress popular feeling rather than to express it. In spite, therefore, of the general attachment of the middle-class to the Church, the Clergy are looked upon askance by the labourers of the rural districts ; and their frequently dictatorial manners are contrasted with the cordial fellowship of the Methodist ministers and the Baptist preachers, greatly to the disadvantage of the Clergy. In a word, the Church greatly needs popular- ising, and nothing would popularise it so much as to bring the influence even of the educated laity to bear more strongly on the Clergy, so as to make them feel keenly their responsibility to the people at large. At the present moment, the great fright which Mr. Chamberlain has given to the nation has rendered it perhaps for the first time,possible to make a considerable change in the government of the Church, and this a change in the popular direction. Otherwise, when the next shock comes, the Churah will be as little prepared for it as she was three months ago. Dr. Ferrers, Dr. Porter, Dr. fort, Dr. Besant, and their

colleagues have chosen the right moment for a great and most important move.