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lieve, is legislation's primary principle and end: to see fair play, if we may so familiarly express ourselves, between unequal parties, under the universal influence of an unrighteous principle of selflove under the influence, whether they be aware of it or not, of selfishness, and sin, and Satan. If this be true, intricate, and difficult of application as the question may be of legislative interference between contracting parties, the principle of such interference is surely very simple; and surely there are cases that decide for themselves the question of its propriety and necessity.
It is vain talking of man's right to dispose of himself, and do what he pleases with his own. He has no such right, acquired from the hands of his Maker, and we know not where he can have gotten it else. God never gave to any being an independent right to the exercise of his own, to the injury or obstruction of another's own; there is not room enough in this narrow world of ours, for each man to walk as seemeth good in his own eyes, without casting his shadow on his neighbour's path: and never will be, till every creature-will is conformed to the will and mind of the Creator; and taught to love his fellow, even as himself. It is vain talking that a man may be trusted with his own interests,-with the wife who is as his own flesh, and the children who are dearer to him than his own life; the labourers on whose industry his gains depend, or the slaves in whom his property is vested. Man is not to be trusted with himself: much less with his proprietorship in another. It has needed the interference of Almighty power to prevent him from destroying his own soul: and human law has been found necessary, but not always sufficient, to prevent his committing murder on his own body. English law does not trust him with his own horse or ass. Yet England trusts her master manufacturers, her speculating shareholders, and money-loving traders, great part of whom are wilfully selling their own souls for this world's pelf, with the bodies and souls of thousands of her defenceless ones, where not a ray of intelligence can come in to disclose to themselves the injustice of their treatment, nor so much as the light of heaven, to betray to others the monstrous cruelties inflicted on them, in the dark prisons of the mine and of the mill.
But England knows it now: and from one end of the country to the other reverberates, 'Something must be done.' It will need the united efforts of her wisest and her best, to devise what can be done. To do right is a straight and pleasant path: to undo wrongs mcst intricate and uneasy one: as might be expected, because God makes the one path, and man makes the other. The first sugges tion of every mind, perhaps, is education '-put arms in the hands of these oppressed; give them information and understanding
and " 'grant them to gather themselves together, and stand for their life, to cause to perish all the power of the people that would assault them." Instruction is their primary right, and no doubt their ultimate defence. But education is a slow process: and labour and suffering must be abridged before it can be so much as entered upon. Meantime the untaught population of our mines and factories, have rights attached exclusively to their condition: the rights of the ignorant, the degraded, and demoralized,―these must be rendered to them now. It is not their fault that they are what they are. They must have the protection intended for the brute, it is more than they have had,-till we restore to them the exercise of a reasonable mind: they must have the governance and treatment of the child, till we bring them up to the stature and the strength of men. We must not leave the babe of four years old to be murdered at the trap, while the school-room is building in which they are to be taught; still less, oh shame! while the Church of Christ is disputing about the right of precedence in it. The tortured mother must not put her babes to their last sleep with Godfrey's Cordial, while we teach her the value her Maker sets upon the human life, and the price he paid to ransom it. These sufferers must first be righted as they are and then be made what they have a right to be.
The dull mill-horse of interested reasoning has trod this round to weariness before. The negro could not be educated till he was free: because, certes, if he knew his rights, he would not work. He could not be made free till he was educated, because, certes, if in ignorance he had his rights, he would not work. Both inferences were true: but England did her duty. And though rumours are afloat that she has grown so weary of her righteousness, that she will presently pay others to do what she so largely bribed herself to let alone, we never have believed it: and we will not believe that her home-born women and children will be left by the legislature to ignorance of their rights and endurance of their wrongs, amid the national cry of pity and of shame.
THE EXPEDIENCY OF RESTORING AT THIS TIME TO THE CHURCH HER SYNODICAL POWERS, CONSIDERED, in Remarks upon the Appendix to the late Charge of his Grace the Archbishop of Dublin. By JAMES THOMAS O'BRIEN, D.D., Bishop of Ossory, Ferns, and Leighlin. London. Seeleys. 1843.
THERE are some men, from whom it is impossible to differ, without distrusting ourselves. One of these, it need hardly be said, is the Bishop of Ossory. Yet the question, which his Lordship has so ably and so temperately discussed in these remarks, is one, concerning which, there may well exist a difference of opinion, at least if it be stated in terms somewhat varying from the announcement of the title-page. We may not be prepared to maintain that the restoration of the very same synodical powers which the Church formerly exercised, is expedient; but neither may we be disposed to concede the expediency of investing the church with certain synodical powers, based on a more equitable system of representation, and guarded by stricter restraints, from the already experienced evils of intemperance, disorder, and licentiousness. We could subscribe, ex animo, to the prayer of the petition, which was presented to the House of Lords on the 4th of July last, "for the establishment of an ecclesiastical government, which shall have authority to determine what is, and what is not, binding on the members of this Church, and to pronounce respecting any changes which individuals have introduced, or may propose to have introduced." But then we should be inclined to stipulate, as an important and essential feature in any such form of government, that no synod can fairly be taken to represent the CHURCH, which does not include the LAITY. She ought, as the petition avers, "to possess within herself the power of regulating her distinctly spiritual affairs;" but the deliberative body, by which this desirable object should be attained, is not to be exclusively an "ecclesiastical body," even though its duty shall be "to decide on questions of doubt and difficulty." And if this somewhat bold and startling hypothesis be objected to by those who would assimilate the interference of the laity in such matters to the presumption of Uzzah, who laid his hand upon the ark, we are prepared to defend it alike on the ground of primitive precedent, and of modern practice. Of primitive precedent, since after deliberation on important questions (at which the multitude were present) "it pleased the apostles, and elders, WITH THE WHOLE CHURCH, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas ;" and, of modern
*Acts xv. 1-30.
practice, for there exists in America, in active, and efficient, and most beneficial operation, the very thing which we desire to behold among ourselves. "The General Convention," says Mr. Caswall," is the tie by which twenty-two dioceses, covering an extent of a million of square miles (ten times the area of Britain) are bound together in one fellowship. The General Convention is divided into two houses, the consent of both of which is necessary, before any canon or resolution can pass. The upper house consists of all the bishops of the Church: the lower is composed of clerical and lay delegates from every diocese, not exceeding four of each order, who appoint a president and secretary from their own body. The concurrence of both orders is necessary to constitute a vote of convention. The General Convention assembles once in three years; and a special convention may be called by the presiding or senior bishop, whenever a majority of the bishops may deem it expedient."
We shall probably recur again to the experience of our transatlantic sister, as exhibited in the lucid and interesting pages of Mr. Caswall: we are only anxious at present to take up a position between the two contending parties. We agree with the Archbishop of Dublin and the petitioners as to the necessity of a synod; we disagree with the Bishop of Ossory as to the expediency of deferring its convention until more tranquil times;-but we agree with the latter most heartily when he declares, "that any body that did not represent the Church, would be plainly unfit to legislate for it;" and we disagree with the former, if he intends to imply, that the Convocation, in its existing constitution, is the legislature of the Church, as Parliament is that of the State. The cases are not parallel, for, if there are bishops in the Parliament, why should there not be laymen in the Synod? Either the parallel must be perfect, or the arguments, which are based on an imperfect analogy, must be, of necessity, incomplete and inconclusive. What then, in answer to the one, should be the constitution of a Synod, calculated to represent the Church, and how far, in reply to the other, would a synodical power, thus exercised, be immediately profitable to her interests? These are questions at which we can but glance; the discussion of them must be reserved for other disputants, and be agitated on another stage. First, however, let us take the Bishop of Ossory's view of the existing state of things, to which this remedy is proposed to be applied :
"I need not enlarge upon the divisions which harass, and disgrace, and weaken our Church at the present day. No one, unhappily, can be ignorant of them. And in fact I presume that, (as appears by the speeches of the prelates who supported the petition), one of the chief reasons for so earnestly
1 America and the American church.
desiring the restoration of a self-governing power to the Church now, is the hope that it would be the means of healing them. I have said enough to show that I consider this as a very delusive hope. My opinion on the contrary is, that such a measure would be likely to exasperate, and prolong, if not perpetuate, these unhappy divisions. And that this is not a vague or random apprehension, but one which rests upon grounds which are very intelligible, whether upon examination they will be found sufficient to support it or not, will I hope appear by what follows.
"Whatever be the constitution of the body to which it is proposed to give such powers, it must, so far, I presume, partake of the nature of convocation, as to be an elective body. Any body that did not represent the Church, would be plainly unfit to legislate for it-so plainly indeed that I do not think it necessary to consider any plan of Church-government of that nature, if such a plan has been conceived. Now it can hardly be doubted that the elections by which this governing body, or a very important part of it, was to be formed, would materially affect our unhappy divisions, and be materially affected by them; that they would widen the divisions, and the divisions embitter them; that they would, in fact, at once carry our existing differences into every diocese, and every archdeaconry, and every rural deanery, and every parish, in the kingdom; and in a form, compared with which, the controversial contests to which they at present give occasion, are tranquillity and harmony. In fact, all the evils which attend upon parliamentary elections in heated times, short of absolute personal violence, might be dreaded in such contests. And not the less that the opposing parties were not contending for any objects of worldly honour or emolument. Indeed in the party struggles which convulse the country at a general election in seasons of great political excitement, every one knows how very few comparatively, of those who are most deeply and desperately engaged in them, have any definite hope of personal advancement, or personal advantage of any kind—at least how very few there are who have any hope of such advancement or advantage as could be regarded as at all commensurate with their exertions and their sacrifices, in the cause to which they devote themselves. It is the success of a man's friends,- the elevation of those to whom he has attached himself as his leaders, the predominance of his party,-the triumph and the influence of his opinions, and his principles,—which are much more the object and the reward of the intense interest, and the desperate exertions which are made on such occasions, than gain or ambition. These last are the motives of comparatively few, the others embrace and sway the many. Now it can hardly be doubted that all the former class of motives would be called inte action by the contested elections, which must attend upon the only mode of restoring Church-government which we need consider; while a new and most powerful source of interest and excitement would be added, in the infinite importance of the results to be hoped or dreaded from the prevalence of opinions, and the victory of parties, in the present case. The connection of such struggles with religion would no doubt chasten and regulate the ardour of some, and make them watch anxiously and jealously over their own temper and conduct. But with others, and many others, it would only serve to exalt their zeal, and to justify every measure which it prompted-so that it could not be doubted that such contests would be carried on with no less energy, and hardly, if at all, less bitterness, than secular conflicts,-enkindling the same passions, and sowing the seeds of the same heart-burnings. and jealousies, and animosities.
"This would be a sad state of things while it lasted. But it might well be borne with if it were to end with the elections; and to end in providing the Church with a deliberative assembly, from which we might reasonably expect a calm consideration of the various points which divide us, and a fair and impartial adjudication upon them. This is the result hoped for by the petitioners. But no such expectation can, in my opinion, be reasonably entertained. Such contests might be expected to terminate, not in providing a