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called occasional offices of the church, are the Lord's Supper ; baptism ; the catechism ; confirmation ; matrimony ; visitation of the sick; burial of the dead ; churching of women; and the commination.
The Church of England, though admitting the euchdrist as a sacrament, conferring grace, when worthily administered and received, does not attach any superstitious importance to it.
This sacrament is generally taken by persons a little before death, as is that of extreme unction in the Roman Catholic Church ; but it is administered once a month publicly in the church. The manner of its administration may be seen in all our common prayer-books.
Baptism is the other sacrament of the Church of England, and it may be administered io either infants or adults ; but generally to the former, and is either public or private. There are three services for this sacrament:, 1st. “ the ministration of public baptism of infants, to be used in the church ; 2d. the ministration of baptism of children in houses ; and 3d, the ministration of baptism to such as are of riper years, and are able to answer for themselves.” Infants receive their Christian names at this rite.
The use of sponsors, or god-fathers, at the time a child is baptized, or christened, as it is called, is indispensable : for a male there must be two god-fathers and one god-mother ; and for a female, two god-mothers and one god-father, who “ promise a vow,” in the child's name,“ that it shall renounce the devil and all his works ; believe all the articles of the Christian faith ; keep God's holy will and commandments, and walk in the same till the end of its life!" .
The catechism of the Church of England teaches the leading doctrines of the church, and instructs the young in many of their duties, moral and theological.
Confirmation.- When children are properly instructed in the nature and obligations promised for them in baptism, by the church catechism, they are then required to be presented to the bishop for confirmation, in order to ratify those vows in their own persons, by this rite ; but not being instituted by Christ, it cannot properly be called a sacrament.
The office of the church begins with a serious admonition to all those who are desirous to partake of its benefits ; and that they should renew in their own names the solemn engagement which they entered into by their sureties at their baptism, and this in the presence of God and the whole congregation ; to which every one ought to answer, with reverence, and serious consideration, I do. Then follow some acts of praise and prayer, proper for the occasion. The ceremony consists of the imposition, or laying on of hands upon the head. The office concludes with suitable prayers. The bishop having laid his hand upon the head of each person, as a token of God's favour, bumbly supplicates the Almighty and everlasting God, that his hand may be over them, and his Holy Spirit may be always with them,
to lead them in the knowledge and obedience of his word, so that at the end of their lives they may be saved through Jesus Christ : and to this is added a collect out of the communion-service, concluding with the bishop's blessing, who now desires, that the blessing of Almighty God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, may be bestowed upon them, and remain with them forever.
Matrimony is not deemed a sacrament in this church, although regarded as a sacred and holy rite. It is performed, either in public in the church, or in a private house, and either by license, or the publication of banns ; and cannot be dissolved except by an especial act of parliament, after previous conviction of the crime of adultery, or some other lawful cause, heard and adjudged in the courts of law. Accordingly, therefore, the laws of England forbid any divorce to take place on account of alleged adultery in either party, till such acts of adultery have been clearly proved ; after which the aggrieved party may apply to parliament for an act of divorce, dr, as it was anciently called, “a Bill of Divorcement." This law, however, cannot be considered, as some have considered it, “ an ex post facto law," or a law made to punish an offerice, against which there was no previous law.
The Funerals of the Church of England are very simple and affecting ; and the service of the most solemn and devout kind.
They have a practice of publicly returning thanks by women after child-birth, which they call Churching of Women, and for which there is a distinct service in the book of common prayer, snd this, with what is called the Commination, a long list of curses, used only on the first day of Lent, concludes that singular, and, in many respects, very excellent book. . In concluding this analysis of the liturgy of this body of Christians, it may be observed, that the morning service formerly consisted of three parts, which were read at three different times in the forenoon. These are now thrown into one, and are all used at the same time. This conjunction of the services produces many repetitions. For instance, the Lord's Prayer is always repeated five times every Sunday morning ; and on sacrament days, if there happen to be a baptism and a churching, it is repeated about eight times in the course of about two hours. These and some other defects have been repeatedly attempted to be reformed ; but hitherto without success.
The government, discipline, Sc. of this church are next to be considered.
There are two Archbishops, (viz.) Canterbury and York, the first of which is primate of all England, though the king is temporal head of the church ; and has the appointment of all the bishops. There are twenty-six bishops, besides the two Archbishops, who are all peers of the realm ; except the bishop of Sodor and Man, who is appointed by the Duke of Athol ; and has no seat in the house of peers.
The Church of Ireland is also episcopal, and is governed by four archbishops and eighteen bishops. Since the union of Britain and Ireland, one archbishop and three bishops sit alternately in the house of peers, by rotation of sessions.
The province of York comprises four bishoprics, viz. Durham, Carlisle, Chester, and the Isle of Man ; all the rest, to the number of twenty-one, are in the province of Canterbury.
The clerical dignitary, next to the bishop, is the arch-deacon, whose duly, though very different in different dioceses, may be terined that of a representative of the bishop in several of his less important functions. The number of arch-deacons in England is about sixty. The name of Dean (Decanus) was probably derived from his originally superintending two canons or prebendaries. Each bishop has a chapter or council ap: pointed to assist him, and each chapter has a Dean for a presi. dent ; but there are in the Church of England many deaneries of other descriptions. Rector is, in general, the title of a clergyman holding a living, of which the tithes are entire : Vicar is understood of a living when the great tithes have passed into secular hands. The very general name of Curate signifies, sometimes, (as curé in France) a clergyman in possession of a living, but more frequently one exercising the spiritual office in a parish under the rector or vicar. The latter are temporary curates, their appointment being a matter of arrangement with the Rector or Vicar; the former, more permanent, are called perpetual curates, and are appointed by the impropriator in a parish which has neither rector nor vicar. The name of Priest is, in general, confined to the clergy of the church of Rome ; in the Church of England, the corresponding terin is a “Clerk in Orders.” A parson (parsona ecclesice) denotes a clergyman in possession of a parochial churcb. Deacon is, in England, not a layman (except with the Dissenters) as in Calvinistic countries, but a clergyman of limited qualifications, to preach, baptize, marry, and bury ; but not to give the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. “Readers” are not regular clergymnen ; but lay men, of good character, licensed by the bishop to read prayers in churches and chapels, where there is no clergyman.
The number of churcb-livings in England and Wales is very great, being fully 10,500. From this multiplicity of benefices, and from the general smallness of the incomes, have arisen two irregularities : pluralities, and non-residence. To prevent, at least to lessen this latter abuse, an. Act of Parliament was passed in 1813, directing that every non-resident incumbent should nominate a curate of a salary of not less than 801. per ann. unless the entire living should be less. The effect of this Act was to reduce the number of non-resident clergymen, by Fully 800 ; they had previously been about 4700 ; but in 1815
the official return to Parliament of the incumbents in England and "sles were as tollows :
Non-resident from the following causes :
Sinecures 52—Vacancies 164-Sequestrations 40-Recent Institutions 87-Dilapidated churches 32--Held by Bishops 22-Law-suits, absence on the Continent, &c. 122-Livings from which no report 279, total 798-Incumbents non-resident from other causes 3856-Incumbents resident 5847-total 10,501 livings.
The rental of England and Wales was, by a late return, disčriminated as follows in regard to tithes :Tithe-free in toto • :
7,904,379 Tithe-free in part
; - - - 856,185 Free on the payment of a modus . , - 498,823 Subject to tithe - - - - - 20,217,467
Total 29,476,854 A part, and by no means an inconsiderable one, of the tithes of England is held by laymen ; but as the church have other resources of income, its total revenue is computed at nearly 3,000,000l. ; but the absorption of large sums by several of the prelates, and the accumulation of the best livings among a few individuals of influence, reduce the annual average income of the curates, or most numerous class, to little more than 1001. a-year.
Tithes necessarily fluctuate with the state of agriculture ; at present (1820-1) the deficiency is extremely alarming. This was also the case in the year 1815, when the clergy began to discover, that the tithe was a very unsuitable and impolitic source of revenue. Application was made to Parliament, and the subject was, for some time, under serious discussion ; but the rise of corn in 1816 and 1817 prevented any other measure than an Act, founded on a Committee Report of the 19th of June, 1816, authorising the possessor of tithes, (laymen as well as clergyinen) to grant leases of them for a terın not exceeding fourteen years.
According to a return in Parliament, made in June 1817, it appears that the incomes of those benefices where there is no parsonage-house, or at least none that forms a suitable residence, are as follow :From 101. to 1001.
615 - 100 to 150 - - - 442 - 150 and upwards - - 793
1850 A prior, and more comprehensive return, had stated the number of churches and chapels, for the established faith, at 2533; and as these were thought inadequate, (the members of the established church being about five millions, or half the population of Epgland and Wales,) an Act was passed in 1818, and
even pecuniary aid, to the amount of one million pounds sterling, given by government, for the erection of an additional number of churches. The previous attempts to raise the requisite funds, by the issue of briefs and voluntary subscriptions, had exhibited a miserable specimen of misapplied labour; the expenses of the collection, and of the patent and stamps, absorbed more than half the money received from the subscribing parties. *
There were not a few worthy and conscientious members of the established church, who questioned the policy and expediency of taking from the public purse so great a sum as one million, at the time when the nation was already greatly embarrassed by the stagnation of trade, and the weight of the existing taxes.
In addition to the details already given of the ecclesiastical statistics, and other affairs connected with the government, discipline, and revenues of the Church of England, the reader will be instructed and amused by some facts, partly taken from that singular production, “ A Plea for Religion and the Sacred Writings,” by the late Rev. David Simpson, Minister of Christ Church, Macclesfield, than whom a better or more honest and conscientious clergyman the Church of England never possessed,
It is well known, says this good man, that there are about 18,000f clergymen in England and Wales of the established religion, and nearly 10,000 parishes.
The rectories 5098'; the Vicarages 3687; the livings of other descriptions 2970 ; in all 11,755. Twenty or thirty of these livings may be a thousand a-year and upwards ; four or five hundred of them 500l. and upwards ; two thousand of them under 2001. ; five thousand under 1001. a-year. The average value of livings is 1401. a-year, reckoning them at 10,000.
In the year 1714, when Queen Anne's Bounty began to be distributed, there were 1071 livings not more than 107. a-year ; 1467. 201. ; 1126, 301. ; 1149, 401. ; 384, 501. In all 5691 livings, not more than 501. a-year a-piece.
All the 101. and 201. livings have been augmented by the above donation.
This bounty is about 13,0001. a-year, clear of deductions ; and is, therefore, equal to 65 augmentations annually, at 2001, a-piece.
The Clergy are indebted to Bishop Burnet for this application. The money itself arises from the first-fruits and tenths of church livings, above a certain value, which, before the time of Henry VIII. used to go to the Pope of Rome.
* See the return of briefs delivered to Parliament, May 19, 1819. + These have rather increased since Mr. Simpson wrote.