Denison Edward.

A charge to the clergy and churchwardens of the Diocese of Salisbury : at his Triennial visitation, in August, 1864 (Volume Talbot Collection online

. (page 1 of 8)
Online LibraryDenison EdwardA charge to the clergy and churchwardens of the Diocese of Salisbury : at his Triennial visitation, in August, 1864 (Volume Talbot Collection → online text (page 1 of 8)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook



. I ' V •








$tc ■ /P(Pf





IN AUGUST, 1864.



















Palace, Salisbury.

August. I^:i4.



This Visitation

Diocese — State of

Diocese — Changes in

Poor Benefice Augmentation Fund

Faithfulness of Clergy

Bishop's Duty with regard to the Discipline of the

Real Question at Issue

The Denial of the Supernatural

How such an Opinion gained acceptance

What done to defend the Faith

My Own Conduct

Its Result

Process by which Result was reached

Remedy of Present Grievance of the Church

Relations of Church and State

Re-union of Christendom

Diocesan Synods

Our Faith not a Matter of Opinion or Sentiment

The Creeds

The^Formularies are Dogmatic

Theological College




Bishop of Capetown

Pastoral Letters

The Holy Sacraments

The Order for the Burial of the Dead


Book of Common Prayer

Act of Uniformity

Our Special Circumstances

How the Clergy should Exercise their Ministry



Tabular Statement of Services, &c. &c.

Pastoral Letters

Training School Statistics


Parish Schools

Churches Consecrated and Restored, &c.

Result of Inspection of Schools

Names and Benefices of Clergy who have died

Diocesan School Prize Scheme

Extract from Last Charge

Answer to Address of Dorset Clergy

Letter to the Archdeacons

Mission House Statistics

Letter from Rev. Prebendary Pavne

















My Revekend Brethren and Brethren
of the Laity,

On most of the subjects with which my Visi-
tation is concerned, I have received all the This
information which I can need. Visitation.

The answers to the questions which I addressed
in the month of February to the Rural Deans and
the Officiating Ministers of the Diocese have given
me very many details of the state of that part of our
Church of which I am the Overseer.

The declarations made by the Churchwardens and
Sidesmen are no less satisfactory, except in the case
of those articles of visitation and inquiry which
regard the morals of their fellow parishioners.

In these excepted and most important particulars,
the Presentments are not always, I am well aware, a
full representation of all the facts of the case.

But it could not, under present circumstances,
have been otherwise.

Not only is there at present no attempt in our
Church to exercise discipline, but the very idea of
discipline, as an appointment of our Lord, seems to

have almost lost its place in our religious system ;
and this being so I am not surprised that the
Churchwardens and Sidesmen have not satisfied the
demands which are made upon them at the time of
their Bishop's Visitation for a report on these

I am not however on this account prepared to
expunge these two Articles of Inquiry ; a for though
we have been for some time under the necessity of
foregoing the ancient discipline, my own wishes and
hopes remain in entire accordance with the language
of our Church on this subject; and I look to and
desire the coming of the time when " faith in the
reality and grievous effect of excommunication" will
have been thus far restored, as to make it possible
so to use Church Courts and Church Laws that
" persons convicted of notorious sin may be put to
open penance, and punished in this world, that their
souls may be saved in the day of the Lord." b

In the meanwhile, the Church must exercise the
disciplinary and penitential power which our Lord
has entrusted to her in the best way that circum-
stances will permit, and the Bishops must at their
Visitations be content to receive a declaration from
the Churchwardens and Sidesmen which does not
represent a perfect discharge of their duties.

And this admission of failure — necessary failure —
in one special branch of my inquiries, is only part
of a more general admission which I am prepared to

* Keble's Life of Bishop Wilson, vol. i., p. 202.
b Comminution Service,

make — namely, that Visitations, as far as the Clergy
are concerned, have not the same influence which
they once had in the effective administration of the
Church of God. We must however thankfully
retain and use them, as means of great indirect
good, as acts of Church administration, which bear
on them the mark of time-honoured sanction, and
as instruments which may in contingencies possibly
not very distant be employed with the important
results which attended them in former days.

In the meantime, some desirable changes may be
made in the conduct of them, and on the present
occasion I have, with a view to the convenience of
the Clergy and Laity, made some new arrangements
both for the discharge of my duties as Visitor, and for
the celebration of the religious Offices which initiate

Thus the celebration of Holy Communion is now
separated from the Morning Prayer, and I have fixed
the hour for calling over the names of the Clergy
in my Court, and for addressing to them and the
Churchwardens my Charge.

I have also requested my Clergy to give notice in
their churches of these appointments, as I was ad-
vised on the occasion of my last visitation, that there
were persons (as was most natural) who would have
been thankful to join with their Bishop and Clergy in
the religious Offices of the day, but who were un-
willing to do so without some expression of welcome
from me.

The only other departure from my custom at my


three former Visitations will be found in my Charge.
I have always tried to keep clearly before my mind
the distinction between a Synod and a Visitation, and
so have abstained from seeming to assume to myself
the right of speaking in my Court as ex cathedra on
points on which I might only rightly so speak in

I have accordingly on these former occasions
Diocese.— occupied your time mainly with such a
state of. rev j ew f Diocesan and Church work, as
your answers to my questions, and my own expe-
rience enabled me to give you. And though I hope
not to transgress to-day the limits which I have
hitherto fixed for myself, I shall, with regard to the
state of my Diocese, content myself with simply
assuring you that, as far as I can rely on outward
tokens, we have on the whole cause to thank God,
and with thankful hearts to strive the more
earnestly and hopefully to prepare ourselves and
those committed to us for the account of the Great

And in giving you this assurance, both I who bear

changes in this witness, and you who hear it, must at

Diocese, ^g momen t have present to our minds

that in God's good Providence many of our brethren

have been withdrawn from their service in the

Church in this Diocese since my last Visitation.

At that exact time, our hearts were sorely tried by
the death of a layman, who, by his almsdeeds, and
other good works — by his ever ready sympathy
with everything that is lovely and of good report —


cheered on my Clergy and myself, to attempt an
imitation of that unselfish, elastic, hopeful, un-
flagging devotion to duty, which characterised the
late Lord Herbert.

But this was but the beginning of the changes
which have since come upon us. Look only, my
brethren, to a few of those which have taken place
amongst the Clergy. a

One part of my Diocese, Dorsetshire, has lost the
services of two Archdeacons — of one, whose long
experience, knowledge of Ecclesiastical law, cour-
teous bearing, and particularly his able, vigorous
charges, full of research, and important information,
gave a special value to his ministrations ; and of
another, who was welcomed by the Clergy and Laity
of the Diocese, as the natural successor to Arch-
deacon Buckle, but who, after having by his first
most remarkable and valuable Charge confirmed the
wisdom of my choice, and the justice of his brethren's
anticipations, was obliged on the ground of health
to tender his resignation of an office of so much

In the Archdeaconry of Wilts, the losses have
been still more severe, for the changes have been
there caused by death.

By the death of that aged servant of the Lord,
Archdeacon Macdonald, the Archdeaconry was de-
prived of the guidance of one, who, by his prudence,
integrity, strong common sense, kindness of heart,

* See Appendix, p. 91.


and long-sustained loyalty to the Church, had gained
and maintained the confidence of the Clergy and Laity
in his Archdeaconry, and especially (as I am often
told) of that most influential and attached body of
Churchmen, the Yeomen of Wiltshire.

On the occasion of his death, there was in that
Archdeaconry, as in the Archdeaconry of Dorset,
one man marked out, I rejoiced to know as his
successor by the wishes and judgment of all its
members, whether lay or clerical. This was Henry
Drury, who had been associated with me as Ex-
amining Chaplain to my revered predecessor, and to
whom I was united, not only by an unvarying appre-
ciation of the refinement, gentleness, and vigour of
his mind, the unswerving constancy of his religious
principles, and the power and grasp of his sympa-
thies, but by an intense affection which we entirely
shared for our common friend and patron, the late
Bishop of Salisbury.

You know, my Brethren, the result of this ap-
pointment, and I cannot trust myself to speak of the
weight of sorrow and anxiety which the death of one
so dear to us all brought upon me.

I was, perhaps, more able to measure the magni-
tude of the loss from the fact that when this sorrow
came upon me I was borne down by another most
searching affliction-.

One of the greatest friends of my early manhood,
and for whose taste, judgment, theological instinct,
and learning I had the most deferential respect and
admiration — to whose example I was indebted as


words cannot tell — and to whose unvarying affection
I could never appeal too much or too often, namely,
William Beaclon Heathcote, had died on the 21st day
of the preceding August.

And in his case, as in that of Henry Drury, I feel
that any words of mine must fail to do justice either
to his lofty character or to my own estimate of the
loss which the Church has sustained.

The words in which Archdeacon Drury described
his friend Precentor Heathcote on the occasion of his
death, are equally true of them both : — " It was
hard to say, whether we shall remember him most
for the genial warmth of his heart, or for the
richness of his intellectual gifts, or for his unwaver-
ing reverence for religious truth, or for the meek-
eyed integrity of his saintly life ;" and I would only
add to such an expression of what I am sure I may
say are our own thoughts, these words of faith,
and hope, and love : — " They were lovely and
pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were
not divided. " a

But in speaking of changes, we necessarily include
not only those who have vacated their offices,
whether by age, or infirmity, or death, but those also
who have come into their places. And here I will
not, for obvious reasons, speak directly of them, but
of myself.

My wish was to appoint to these offices men sound
in the faith, wholly given to the work of the
ministry, and to the exercises of our Holy Religion,

2 Sam. i. 23.


and who by the firmness of their principles, the
moderation of their characters, their conciliatory
bearing, and their seeming power to move the secret
springs of men's minds and hearts, were qualified to
attach others to the Church of God. And I feel that
I have cause to thank G-od that He guided me to a
right choice, and I have no fear that the successors
of Archdeacon Huxtable and Archdeacon Drury
will ever give you cause to question whether I acted
under such guidance.

In the Appendix to my Charge (a copy of which I
Poor Benefice shall send to each one of you) there will be

Augmentation .

Fund, tables 8 and other statistical information,
which will enable you to test the truth of the favour-
able report I have made to you of my Diocese;
and amongst those tables there is one to which I
would specially direct your attention, as the Society
to which they refer has been founded since my last
Visitation. I am speaking of the tables of the Poor
Benefice Augmentation Fund.

The Ecclesiastical Commisioners, with the view of
increasing small endowments, have for some years
appropriated part of their means to meet local
benefactions raised for that purpose ; and there are,
I am sorry to say, many cases in my Diocese which
urgently require such augmentation.

The following statement justifies my saying this.
There are in this Diocese —

29 Benefices of between £13 and £70, gross
annual value, averaging less than £55,

" See Appendix, p. U'2.


40 of between £70 and £100, averaging less than

56 of between £100 and £150, averaging less than

55 of between £150 and £200, averaging less than
ii e., there are 180 Benefices whose average gross
annual value falls short of £119, and net annual
value of £100, though many of them require the
services of one or two Curates, and there are
also about 50 incumbencies without any suitable

Now, one way which has been successfully adopted
in many dioceses of drawing forth a local bene-
faction, and so qualifying the benefice for the
help of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, is by
making a grant out of a common Diocesan Fund
towards such local benefaction ; and after a full
consideration of the wants of this Diocese, and the
example thus set us by others, we determined in
November 1862 to form such a fund. You will see
by the tables which give the amounts of our dona-
tions and subscriptions, and the collections under my
Pastoral Letter what success we have had, and I
trust that at our first meeting to make grants, which
is fixed for Tuesday, September 27, a still stronger
interest may be excited about our Association.

But in referring you to this and to the other tables
which will be printed at the end of my Charge, I do
not forget that in such a matter as the condition of
the Church of Gon great caution should be used in


drawing conclusions from mere statistics. These
may lead to either a too hopeful or a too unfavourable
judgment. Many things must be taken into account
in estimating their value, and especially in ascer-
taining how far they may be accepted as an answer
to that question which is a most vital one to the
well-being of the Church — viz., the question of the
faithfulness of the Clergy.

It is this question which has, I would remind you,

Faithfulness given a very special and peculiar interest

of clergy. ^ Q ^ e controversies which had begun before

my last Visitation, which are still going on, and

which have not perhaps yet reached their height.

The great excitement and alarm which have at-
tended the re-opening of old questions, and the
republication of old objections to part of the teaching
of the Church of Christ owed much of its impulse to
the fact, that some of the leaders in these assaults on
the Faith were men who had before made an explicit
profession of their belief, and had entered into en-
gagements to keep their teaching within limits,
which it was felt these revived opinions had ex-
ceeded, and who upon the strength of such profession
and engagements had been entrusted with the re-
sponsibilities and privileges of Office in the Church.

Many who could not appreciate the importance of
the discussions which these Clergymen had raised
were quite able to come to an indignant decision
as to the honesty and faithfulness of those who
claimed to themselves such unrestrained freedom
from what were supposed to be their obligations.


With regard to my own Clergy, as a body, I have
a ready and confident answer to any question which
may be raised about them.

You, my Rev. Brethren, by addresses to me in
1861, and again by your addresses to me this 'year?
and by your forward liberality in helping to relieve
me from the burden of the heavy costs attendant
upon my endeavours to prove that the Clergy could
not claim for the errors, which some of them were
propagating, the protection of the law, have as a
body placed yourselves beyond the reach of suspicion
about your faithfulness and honesty.

And I am the more satisfied of this, first, because
usually nothing is more difficult than to obtain any
united action amongst the Clergy. We are so accus-
tomed to act as individuals (and I say this not as a
matter wholly of either praise or blame), that any-
thing like unanimity, especially when the character
and interests of others are concerned, can only be
the expression of a very deep and general con-
viction; and secondly, because there were many
motives besides that of sympathy with these errors,
which might have made some of you unwilling to
take an active part in such measures of condemna-
tion, however just and well considered.

And as I have referred to your readiness to show
by deeds as well as words that in instituting B . gho ^
legal proceedings I had in your judgment Duty with

regard to the

done what was right, I think this a Discipline of

natural opportunity of briefly stating what

is the duty of a Bishop with respect to the discipline


of his Clergy. This question has of late years been
much discussed, but it has, perhaps, been but im-
perfectly understood.

The Bishop is Judge "Ordinarius" or Ordinary
of his Diocese. He has the cum curarum of all
souls therein, but he has also the especial duty of
enquiring into and of punishing the offences of the
Clerks who are placed under his control. It is
necessary that he should discharge both these func-
tions. Criminal proceedings therefore against a
Clerk in Holy Orders, according to the usage of the
Church, require the sanction or permission of the
Bishop. It is his office, to use the proper legal term,
which is promoted.

The Bishop proceeds against the Clerk either (1)
ex officio mei'o, or (2) ex officio promoto.

In the former case he originates the enquiry and
assigns a particular proctor or person to bring the
matter legally before him in his judicial capacity, but
he himself in no way interferes with the conduct of
the cause.

In the latter case the Bishop does not originate
the enquiry, but allows another person, who prefers
the charge, to substantiate it by proper legal pro-
ceedings before him.

But any application of these principles is embar-
rassed by the large expenses incident to enquiry or
prosecution, and by the difficulty of defraying them.
It must be clear to any one who is familiar with this
matter, that it is quite impossible for any Bishop,
however much he may desire to be faithful, to un-


dertake the charge of correcting his Clergy by legal
process, if the expenses of such process are, in every
case, to fall exclusively on him.

On this point however you have anticipated my
opinion by a generosity which relieves me from the
necessity of saying more than that I thank you from
my heart.

But the question of the faithfulness of the Clergy
which has led me to make these remarks is The Real

Question at

not after all of such moment as the truth Issue -
or falsehood of those opinions, which some of them
have claimed the right of propagating.

It might have been that these Clergymen had
passed the barriers within which they had solemnly
engaged to the Church to exercise their functions,
and that such conduct was accordingly unfaithful,
but even in this case, if the barriers thus exceeded
were such as to prevent them from leading forth
their people to any parts of the green pastures
and sweet waters of God's truth, all truth-loving
men should join hand in hand to help to free them
from such restraints upon the liberty of God's

But I am also satisfied of our unanimous persua-
sion that, should any persons desire to refer all God's
dealings with man, and so those which are recorded
in Holy Scripture, to the operations of some general
and fixed law, which is not subject to any interference
on the part of the author of such law, and so to
eliminate from Holy Scripture the Supernatural,
these would require not liberty but restraint.



And it is this denial of the Supernatural which
The Denial has been a principal cause of excite-
Supematurai. ment and controversy in the Church
since the year 1861. This is the root of modern
scepticism, as has been most ably shown by several
recent writers ; this is the irpdrov 4>t.v§oQ, with which
the faithful must do battle, if they would maintain
the faith against the various errors which draw
their virus more or less directly from it.

In these days attacks on the faith mainly* take
their rise out of this negation of God's supernatural
interference. Whatever philosophical form a man's
scepticism may assume, he begins and ends his
assault by eliminating the Supernatural from both
the moral and physical world. All consistent
Rationalists alike exclude from our Holy Religion,
from its history and its dogma, everything but that
which may be evolved out of a sustained and unva-
rying process of what is called law, and they admit
into their account of men and things no special
expression of a Supreme and Almighty Will.

The question thus raised is, I need hardly say,
most important, and may be thus stated : whether
all that happens to man be not the result of certain
fixed laws, which are not subject to any interference
on the part of their Divine Author.

It is indeed urged that such an opinion is in har-
mony with the truest conception we can form of
God's Almighty Power, and that in proportion as we
discern more clearly this attribute of God, we shall
be the less tempted to explain unusual pheno-


mena by any theory of the exercise of Super-
natural Power. But it may be said, in answer to
such a plea in behalf of such an elimination of the
Supernatural, that belief in the being of a God in-
volves belief in His Providence and interference — in
other words, in the Supernatural.

M. Guizot a puts this with such inimitable clearness
in a work winch he published last June, that I
must quote his very words to you : — " "Whoever
really believes in God takes Providence for granted.
God is not an hypothesis, put forward in order to
account for the origin of things. He is not an actor,
summoned on the stage of thought, merely that He
may open history by the scene of the Creation, and
then be dismissed to a life of uselessness and inac-
tivity. By the mere fact of His existence, God is
ever close to His handiwork, and He upholds and
rules it. Providence then flows naturally and by
necessity from the Being of God : it is nothing more
than the constant presence and uninterrupted action
of God in His own Creation."

And such an assertion may be strengthened, and
the plea which it contradicts further weakened, by
arguing that, though the provision and adaptation
of means to an end, and the sustentation of them in
an unbroken series, and the evolution through them
of the most remarkable phenomena, are most evident
expressions and exhibitions of Almighty Power,
the interference with such a chain of causes and

" See Appendix, p. 102.


effects, or, in other words, the interposition of some
unprecedented exercise of will, is at least as clear a
witness to the sovereignty of that will.

It is not however by trying to place in the
balance, and to estimate by a most careful analysis
the precise value either of fixed law on the one
hand, or of the interference with law on the other, as
indicators of the power of the agent, that we shall
find the surest help in resisting the spread and
establishment of the opinion in question, which gives
no place to the Supernatural in the dealings of God
with man. Such help is, I believe, to be obtained
by a much simpler and more reliable process. "We
appeal against this opinion to the instinct of our
common humanity. Men of all creeds, not only they

1 3 4 5 6 7 8

Online LibraryDenison EdwardA charge to the clergy and churchwardens of the Diocese of Salisbury : at his Triennial visitation, in August, 1864 (Volume Talbot Collection → online text (page 1 of 8)