15 JUNE 1850, Page 13


114nnmoon 'without largeness ef view or efficacy of plan, may be said to characterize the SeCond Report of the Commissioners on the Subdivision of Parishes. The object of the inquiry- was to de- vise a plan which may be called an English division of large and populous parishes" quoad aaera,r in order to secure for multitudes who are in a state of " spiritmilleetitution " an effectual cure of their souls. The Commissioners calculate that they shall want six hundred additional churches —for the modern notion of spi- ritual ministration is the building of a material faire, with its re- gular pews and decorous facade. It might almost be imagined that chunoh-extensionists ascribe some meral efficacy to the mere sight of that coldly symmetrical and seldom beautiful structure archi- tecture in charity-school dress; or spiritual avail to the mere resi- dence of a clergyman, as though he were, in proper person, a dif- fusive disinfectant. However that may be, the Commissioners de- ziderate six hundred more churches besides a proportionate supply of clergy and augmentation of smaller stipends. They calculate that they shall want 2,000,000/. of money ; but count upon the muni- ficence of the public to half that amount, leaving one million for them to raise.

In their researches the Commissioners have found a treasure, —777 livings, mostly in the gift of the Crown, but virtually bestowed by the Lord. Chancellor ; and with this property they propose to deal. They propose, not reorganization of boundaries or transfer of emoluments—for no complaints are alleged against these Crown living,—but the actual sale of the whole ! "We submit, therefore, to your, Majesty, that so many of these advow- sons should gradually, and in the course of a few years, 'be disposed of by private tender, as would produeerct sum equal to the amount which would be necessary to insure the ereetion,'dfsht=hundied churches; the Church-build- ing Commissioners being empbweredIto regulate the order in which the ad- vowsons to be so dealt with should he offered to purchasers, in whom the perpetual patronage of such benefices shall be Vested. If the annual ineome of the 777 benefices b estimated at 200,0001., and the value of the advowsons at from Seven to ten years' purchase of the net 'value after making the-deductions ii.e.Aary to such a calculation, the sum ultimately raised, were all the'advoweens to be sob!, would probably be more than sufficient for both the objects in eonteraplation,—namely, the augmenta- tion of the smaller benefices, and the erection of six hundred new churches." So that an abuse which already brings scandal upon the Church, the sale of ecclesiastical offices, is to have this official and sweeping recognition! The idea appears to be borrowed from the Army, where official prejudice upholds the plan of appointment by pur- those against a long-nurtured public opinion. Yet the objections to the practice in a military system are faint compared to those in a sacred profession, which has always suffered, severely if not fa- tally, from the introduction of money-dealing into the temple.

But the Commissioners do insinuate a plea for their project-

" The selection of proper persons to fill so large a number of benefices—a number greater than has been intrusted to any six prelates of the Church— must impose a heavy burden own any one by whom the duty is conscienti- ously and efficiently disohaeged. The minute inquiries which should be in- stituted into the character for piety,:learning, ,veal, and discretion, of every candidate for preferment, before he is intrusted v. ith functions so sacred and important as Close involved in the cure of souls, must demand a sacrifice of time and attention incompatible with the many laborious duties of the Lord Chancellor."

What the Lord Chancellor -cannot do, into be handed over to an unknown set of country gentlemen, or persons not country gentle- men, perhaps not gentlemen at all. The q.ualification for select- ing a minister of religion to guidlia. flock, • is the power to buy, an " advowson " : buy an advowson, and you, whoever you are, shall nominate the pastor of the people—the parish Moses who is to lead them through Desert and Red Sea, to the Promised Land. Much ;night be said for the tolerance of an abuse which has existed very long, though the suppression of the advovrson system is a reform foreseen by those who can leek forward ; but to create this enormous additional abuse, outrages every-law of reason and policy, to say nothing of religious feeling. • The true "friends of the Church" will hardly suffer so wild a project to be completed ?