30 DECEMBER 1882, Page 6


WE shall not dwell upon the arguments upon which the Bishop of Manchester relies in justification of his refusal to institute Mr. Cowgill to the benefice of St. John's, Miles Platting. At another time, those arguments might have possessed a certain moral weight,—enough, at all events, to justify a detailed examination of them. But at present, there are considerations connected with the course the Bishop has felt bound to take which make that course an occasion for unmixed regret. The Bishop of Manchester has thought fit to set aside, so far as it is in the power of a single Bishop to do so, the truce which was proclaimed by Arch- bishop Tait's dying breath. The essence of that truce was the suspension of • all Ecclesiastical suits against Ritualists, until the Commission on the Ecclesiastical Courts has presented its Report, and there has been time for the Bishops to consider whether this truce cannot be ex- tended into a formal peace, based on some measure of Ritual comprehension. The disadvantages of enforcing the law as it stands are seen to be many, and the only way by which these disadvantages can be avoided without bringing the law into contempt, is so to modify the law as to make it more accordant with the actual circumstances of the Church of England. The last thoughts of Archbishop Tait were given to devising how this end could be compassed, and by the help of the Bishop of London and of the patrons of two London livings, he was able to see his wish realised. It was fortunate for him that the See of London was not held by Bishop Fraser. Had it been so, the arrangement by which Mr. Mackonochie was pre- sented to St. Peter's, London Docks, and Mr. Suckling to St. Alban's, Holborn, could only have been carried out at the cost of prolonged legal proceedings. If the case of Mr. Mackonochie is not parallel with that of Mr. Cowgill, it is only because it is very much stronger. Mr. Cowgill has only been the curate of an offending incumbent, Mr. Mackonochie has been an offending incumbent. It is as if Mr. Green had resigned the living of St. John's, Miles Plat- ting, in July last, and then had been presented to a living in Manchester, The Bishop of London had quite as good reason to know that Mr. Mackonochie will practise at St. Peter's, London Docks, the ceremonial he has practised at St. Alban's, Holborn, as the Bishop of Manchester could possibly have had to know that Mr. Cowgill would make no changes in Mr. Green's ceremonial. The difference between the two Bishops is that the Bishop of London was genuinely anxious to give effect to Archbishop Tait's wish, whereas the Bishop of Manchester is genuinely anxious to give effect to his own reading of the law. That anxiety may in itself be quite natural and reasonable. Upon that point we are not called to offer an opinion, and we have no wish to go out of our way to do so, But Archbishop Tait's wish and the Bishop of Manchester's reading of the law are in direct antagonism with one another, and we shall not pretend not to think Bishop Fraser's decision most unfortunate and needless. If the Bishop. of London could see his way to instituting Mr. Mackonochie, the Bishop of Manchester might, we should have thought, have seen his way to instituting Mr. Cowgill. The induce- ments are precisely the same in .the two cases. There is Archbishop Tait's last desire, there is the chance of restoring peace to a distracted Church, and in Bishop Fraser's case there is the example of the Bishop of a greater and more venerable See. All these considerations put together have gone for nothing with the Bishop of Manchester. So far as he can control events, there is to be no truce between the contending parties in the Church. Ritualists shall not have institution in the Diocese of Manchester, if Bishop Fraser can help it. A far more conspicuous member of the party has just been instituted in the Diocese of London, under circumstances which made the act a much more remarkable one ; but the Bishop sees in the act of his brother-prelate nothing but a warning not to be led away by a foolish desire for peace, or by a feeble deference to a dying Primate. He is superior to these weaknesses, and, unfortunately for the Church of England, an opportunity has come in his way of showing how much he despises them. There is not one of the reasons assigned in his letter that might not equally have availed to prevent the Bishop of London from instituting Mr. Mackonochie. Mr. Cowgill " has repeatedly and persistently violated the law of the Church of England, as declared by the supreme Ecclesiastical tribunal of the realm." So has Mr. Mackonochie. The Bishop of Manchester declared himself not satisfied with the letters testimonial, because the clergymen who signed them are fully aware of the illegal acts which Mr. Cow- gill admits that he has practised. The Bishop of London might equally have been dissatisfied with the letters testimonial pre- sented by Mr. Mackonochie. " The declaration of assent and the oath of canonical obedience" which Mr. Cowgill offers to take are no security against the continuance and repetition of his illegal acts. No more are the declaration of assent and the oath of canonical obedience which Mr. Mackonochie has just taken.

Mr. Hughes, whose letter we print elsewhere, takes a view of the " truce " which deprives it of all meaning. He describes the Bishop as " the officer in charge, upon whom it rests to see the law as it stands obeyed, and that, pending a truce, neither party to a quarrel shall occupy new ground." If this had been what Archbishop Tait proposed, the Ritualists might well have said, "Thank you for nothing." Whether the law as it stands shall be obeyed is precisely the question at issue, and the essence of the Archiepiscopal suggestion was that the law should not be enforced, until there has been time to consider whether it shall any longer be left as it stands. Whether the law be enforced by depriving Mr. Mackonochie, or by refusing to institute Mr. Cowgill, is a matter of no importance—except, indeed, that the first course would undoubtedly have been legal, whereas the second course is probably illegal. Either way, the intention is to force the " law as it stands " upon a Ritualist congregation, which is precisely the result which Archbishop Tait desired to avert, and so far as the Diocese of London is concerned, succeeded in averting.

If the Bishop of Manchester had been forbidden by law to institute Mr. Cowgill—if, that is to say, he had been sub- ject to legal penalties if he had taken upon himself to do it —his conduct would. have been more intelligible. He might

then have argued with himself somewhat in this way It is true that, under the circumstances, no one may care to prosecute me if I institute this man ; but the law plainly pro- hibits me from instituting him, and not even to carry out Arch- bishop Tait's plan for restoring peace to the Church, can I con- sent to do what is unmistakably illegal. Others may play fast- and-loose with their conscience, but I cannot.' So far, how- ever, is this from being the case, that it is believed. to be well settled law that a Bishop has no power to exact any pledges from a presentee as to his future conduct. The one thing that he can do is to examine him touching his faith, and refuse to institute him in case his answers raise a well-grounded suspicion of heresy. In refusing institution to Mr. Cowgill, the Bishop does so at his own risk. He feels that his conscience and his sense of the obligations that belong to his office compel him to strain the law. Of course, if this is so, there is no more to be said, except to express the hope that Sir Percival Heywood will take the proper means to bring home to the Bishop's mind that he is really doing the very thing for which he blames the Ritualists,—setting up, that is to say, his own interpretation of the law against the interpretation affixed to it, or, at all events, believed to be affixed to it, by the Courts. We are sincerely sorry that the only way of convincing the Bishop that he can properly institute Mr. Cowgill is a judgment of the Courts that he is bound. to institute him, but as he closes lus

ears against any other reasoning, it is only Sir Percival Heywood who can advance the matter any further. If, unfortunately, he should elect to take the other alternative mentioned in his letter, and try to maintain the invalidity of Mr. Green's de- privation, he will be only courting defeat. In that case, Arch- bishop Tait's eirenicon will not run within the Diocese of Manchester. Elsewhere, the Ritualists will be left unmolested till the Ritual Commission have made their report ; there the Church Association will have free course, and comprehension, so far as it lies with the Bishop to bring it about, will be held of no account. It is a poor ending to the hopes that seemed on the eve of being realised a fortnight ago, and we are sorry that the work of compassing their failure should have been self- assigned to Bishop Fraser. Why the "great majority of moderate Churchmen " are to " thank the Bishop for not having flinched from his post at this crisis," we cannot, with all respect to Mr. Hughes, for the life of us see. The Bishop has taken a course in which it is, to say the least, very doubtful whether the law will sustain him, and the result of his act will be to rekindle the fires of controversy, just as they were dying out. For what then are we lo thank him ? Is it for straining the law, or for doing his best to make the Ritualist quarrel as hot as ever ?