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who profess them from his diocese. There is no moral wrong in this. He has accordingly devised no fewer than eighty-seven interrogatories, by which he thinks he can detect the smallest taint of Calvinism that may lurk in the creed of the candidate; and in this also, whatever we may think of his reasoning, we suppose his purpose to be blameless. He believes, finally, that he has legally the power so to interrogate and exclude; and in this perhaps he is not mistaken. His intentions, then, are good, and his conduct, perhaps, not amenable to the law. All this we admit in his favour: but against him we must maintain, that his conduct upon the points in dispute has been singularly injudicious, extremely harsh, and, in its effects (though not in its intentions), very oppressive and vexatious to the Clergy
We have no sort of intention to avail ourselves of an anonymous publication to say unkind, uncivil
, or disrespectful things to a man of rank, learning, and character
- we hope to be guilty of no such impropriety; but we cannot believe we are doing wrong in ranging ourselves on the weaker side, in the cause of propriety and justice. The Mitre protects its wearer from indignity; but it does not secure impunity.
It is a strong presumption that a man is wrong, when all his friends, whose habits naturally lead them to coincide with him, think him wrong. If a man were to indulge in taking medicine till the apothecary, the druggist
, and the physician, all called upon him to abandon his philocathartic propensities—if he were to gratify his convivial habits till the landlord demurred and the waiter shook his head— we should naturally imagine that advice so wholly disinterested was not given before it was wanted, and that it merited some little attention and respect. Now, though the Bench of Bishops certainly love power, and love the Church, as well as the Bishop of Peterborough, yet not one defended him - not one rose to say, "I have done, or I would do, the same thing." It was impossible to be present at the last debate on this question, without perceiving that his Lordship stood alone, and this in a very gregarious profession, that habitually combines and butts against an opponent with a very extended front. If a lawyer is wounded, the rest of the profession pursue him, and put him to death. If a churchman is hurt, the others gather round for his protection, stamp with their feet, push with their horns, and demolish the dissenter who did the mischief.
The Bishop has at least done a very unusual thing in his Eighty-seven Questions. The two Archbishops, and we believe every other Bishop, and all the Irish hierarchy, admit curates into their dioceses without any such precautions. The necessity of such severe and scrupuTous inquisition, in short, has been apparent to nobody but the Bishop of Peterborough; and the authorities by which he seeks to justify it are any thing but satisfactory. His Lordship states, that forty years ago he was himself examined by written interrogatories, and that he is not the only Bishop who has done it; but he mentions no names; and it was hardly worth while to state such extremely slight precedents for so strong a deviation from the common practice of the Church.
The Bishop who rejects a curate upon the Eightyseven Questions is necessarily and inevitably opposed to the Bishop who ordained him. The Bishop of Gloucester ordains a young man of twenty-three years of age, not thinking it necessary to put to him these interrogatories, or putting them, perhaps, and approving of answers diametrically opposite to those that are required by the Bishop of Peterborough. The young clergyman then comes to the last-mentioned Bishop; and the Bishop, after putting him to the Question, says, “ You are unfit for a clergyman," — though, ten days before, the Bishop of Gloucester has made him one! It is bad enough for ladies to pull caps, but still worse for Bishops to pull mitres. Nothing can be more mischievous or indecent than such scenes; and no man of common prudence, or knowledge of the world, but must see that they ought immediately to be put a stop to. If a man is a captain in the army in one part of England,
he is a captain in all. The general who commands north of the Tweed does not say, You shall never appear in my district, or exercise the functions of an officer, if you do not answer eighty-seven questions on the art of war, according to my notions. The same officer who commands a ship of the line in the Mediterranean, is considered as equal to the same office in the North Seas: The sixth commandment is suspended, by one medical diploma, from the north of England to the south. But, by this new system of interrogation, a man may be admitted into orders at Barnet, rejected at Stevenage, readmitted at Brogden, kicked out as a Calvinist at Witham Common, and hailed as an ardent Arminian on his arrival at York.
It matters nothing to say that sacred things must not be compared with profane. In their importance, we allow, they cannot; but in their order and discipline they may be so far compared as to say, that the discrepancy and contention which would be disgraceful and pernicious in worldly affairs, should, in common prudence, be avoided in the affairs of religion. Mr. Greenough has made a map of England, according to its geological varieties ;- blue for the chalk, green for the clay, red for the sand, and so forth. Under this system of Bishop Marsh, we must petition for the assistance of the geologist in the fabrication of an ecclesiastical map.
All the Arminian districts must be purple. Green for one theological extremity sky-blue for another — as many colours as there are Bishops — as many shades of these colours as there are Archdeacons - a tailor's pattern card the picture of vanity, fashion, and caprice!
The Bishop seems surprised at the resistance he meets with; and yet, to what purpose has he read ecclesiastical history, if he expect to meet with any thing but the most determined opposition? Does he think that every sturdy suprarapsarian? bullock whom he tries to sacrifice to the Genius of Orthodoxy, will not kick, and push, and toss; that he will not, if he can, shake the axe from his neck, and hurl his mitred butcher into the
air ? His Lordship has undertaken a task of which he little knows the labour or the end. We know these men fully as well as the Bishop; he has not a chance of success against them. If one motion in Parliament will not do, they will have twenty. They will ravage, roar, and rush, till the very chaplains, and the Masters and Misses Peterborough request his Lordship to desist. He is raising up a storm in the English Church of which he has not the slightest conception; and which will end, as it ought to end, in his Lordship’s disgrace and defeat.
The longer we live, the more we are convinced of the justice of the old saying, that an ounce of mother wit is worth a pound of clergy; that discretion, gentle manners, common sense, and good nature, are, in men of high ecclesiastical station, of far greater importance than the greatest skill in discriminating between sublapsarian and supralapsarian doctrines. Bishop Marsh should remember, that all men wearing the mitre work by character, as well as doctrine; that a tender regard to men's rights and feelings, a desire to avoid sacred squabbles, a fondness for quiet, and an ardent wish to make every body happy, would be of far more value to the Church of England than all his learning and vigilance of inquisition. The Irish Tithes will probably fall next session of Parliament; the common people are regularly receding from the Church of England — baptizing, burying, and confirming for themselves. Under such circumstances, what would the worst enemy of the English Church require ?- a bitter, bustling, theological Bishop, accused by his clergy of tyranny and oppression — the cause of daily petitions and daily debates in the House of Commons the idoneous vehicle of abuse against the Establishment - a stalking-horse to bad men for the introduction of revolutionary opinions, mischievous ridicule, and irreligious feelings. Such will be the advantages which Bishop Marsh will secure for the English Establishment in the ensuing session. It is inconceivable how such a prelate shakes all the upper works of the Church, and ripens it for dissolution and
decay. Six such Bishops, multiplied by eighty-seven, and working with five hundred and twenty-two questions, would fetch every thing to the ground in less than six months. But what if it pleased Divine Providence to afflict every prelate with the spirit of putting eighty-seven queries, and the two Archbishops with the spirit of putting twice as many, and the Bishop of Sodor and Man with the spirit of putting only forty-three queries ? — there would then be a grand total of two thousand three hundred and thirty-five interrogations flying about the English Church; and sorely vexed would the land be with Question and Answer.
We will suppose this learned Prelate, without meanness or undue regard to his worldly interests, to feel that fair desire of rising in bis profession, which any man, in any profession, may feel without disgrace. Does he forget that his character in the ministerial circles will soon become that of a violent impracticable man — whom it is impossible to place in the highest situations — who has been trusted with too much already, and must be trusted with no more ? Ministers have something else to do with their time, and with the time of Parliament, than to waste them in debating squabbles between Bishops and their clergy. They naturally wish, and, on the whole, reasonably expect, that every thing should go on silently and quietly in the Church. They have no objection to a learned Bishop; but they deprecate one atom more of learning than is compatible with moderation, good sense, and the soundest discretion. It must be the grossest ignorance of the world to suppose that the Cabinet has any pleasure in watching Calvinists.
The Bishop not only puts the questions, but he actually assigns the limits within which they are to be answered. Spaces are left in the paper of interrogations, to which limits the answer is to be confined; — two inches to original sin: an inch and a half to justification; three quarters to predestination; and to free-will only a quarter of an inch. But if his Lordship gives them an inch, they will take an ell. His Lordship is