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· Life is oblivion, hope its sigh suppress’d:
Record of him whose spirit Thou didst nurse.'-ii. 407. And is it so, then, that any, whether in the springtime of life, or when earthly toil is drawing to a close, can content himself with the thought that life is a great mystery; and leave it to rest in darkness, not knowing whether his soul will
preserve a distinct and conscious existence, or be absorbed into the general life that pervades the universe ? Life is indeed mysterious, but the veil has in part been raised, and they who will, may walk by the light shining in the dark places. The mists still loom before that world unseen, but they are broken; and they whose feet are stayed upon the Rock, may enter into the cloud, with fear, indeed, but with hope and comfort still. Most inscrutable it is that the highest vigour of intellect and so great beauty of mind and disposition, should be permitted thus to wander in the wilderness out of the way :' most wonderful that oftentimes they whose powers, mental and moral, appear most calculated to do great things for the cause of God, are yet found warring against Him: it is not so, happily, in this case; but it is the spirit crying out to be led forth into the paths of truth, and yet refusing to be guided in the ways that are ordained. The desire may be for truth,—the heart may long to serve God and to attain to the knowledge of Him,—yet while wandering in a course self-chosen, we may fear that the words apply to us, ' He that gathereth not with me, scattereth.'
Art. III.-1. The Law relating to Conrocations of the Clergy, witi
Forms of Proceeding in the Provinces of Canterbury and York. By ROBERT R. PEARCE, Esq., Barrister-at-Law. London:
S. Sweet. 1848. 2. Morning Chronicle, from July 28 to August 25, 1852. 3. The Guardian, of the same period. 4. John Bull, of the same period. OBSERVERS of nature are often struck with a certain graceful and easy power which some animals possess, either of reviving from a prolonged state of dormant existence, or of changing their whole scene of action, and at once assuming instinctive habits that have long been interrupted, apparently unconscious
any cessation having taken place. How different in nature is the process of first construction from that of revived energies ! Long and painful days of helpless deformity, or at least a very gradual development of powers, are incident to animal life in different stages of its growth, before the living being is thoroughly itself: but once let it have matured its nature, and every act of conscious identity for the future will at once be the immediate and unlaboured result of its instinctive faculties, whatever length of time may separate one from the other. It is weeks before the youthful swallow learns the strength and knowledge to float for insect food by certain accustomed streams, and rest in certain nooks; but let it once have known its home and its living pastures, and long months of winter may altogether estrange it from our observation; yet when the time is come, we shall see it so quietly and naturally following its old avocations, that some moments will intervene before we are conscious ourselves that it is a comparative stranger. Descending even to reptiles, for a like principle, we hear of toads immured for indefinite spaces of time within a narrowness of compass that has forbidden all motion whatever, which nevertheless, when once released, are observed immediately to perform locomotion, according to the nature of its species. The seven sleepers are recorded to have passed through a centenarian slumber, without at all deadening the acuteness of their perceptions when at length aroused into life.
The moral we may learn from this analogy of nature, and from this dream of the human fancy, is surely this; that, without any general application of the rule, there may yet be cases of suspended life, or the suspension of some particular function, the subjects of which, on a fitting occasion, are seen before our eyes, all at once, in real vigour of existence. But it is not our purpose to adduce analogies in order to prove, or even to discuss the reviving power that may exist in dormant life; we have no occasion, in the matter now under our notice, to argue in this way, that there may be life in something now apparently dead; but we have mentioned the quietness and ease of nature's reviving powers, only by way of illustration of what is already established as a fact in the parallel we would institute.
It seems but a short space, nay, but yesterday, since to talk of Convocation was the mark of archæological abstraction from all existing scenes, or of imprudent enthusiasm void of all practical wisdom and discretion. Convocation was seen to be dead, existing only in form, but without life; and the form was therefore despised, as a cast-off garment which only chance had kept from being thrown altogether away. It is true that some things do linger on in a strange way, which yet are destined only to perish; but there is a sort of presumption, that legal forms continually acted up to, and that at considerable trouble, without the smallest present advantage or apparent object, have some intrinsic meaning in them which one day will come out. And this is truly the case with Convocation. It went on, in form, through years of total obscurity to public interest, and now it is seen that the opportunity has arrived for it to awaken out of its sleep. Convocation is now a real, active power. Strange as it may seem, contrary as it may be to our wise prognostications, in direct opposition as it may be to all our notions of probability, or even possibility, we yet wake up from this oppression of the difficulties of the casc, simply to behold Convocation quietly beginning to assume a natural place in our Constitution. All our fears and doubts as to its practicability were on the supposition that the whole structure had to be built up and established for the first time; whereas the machine had not to be invented, experimented on, put together by degrees, and modestly suggested to the public, in opposition to all manner of prejudices and private interests, which assail any new device, whether a new reaping-machine or an ecclesiastical canon; but it only required putting into motion, for the conquest of all preliminary difficulties, is a legacy which we derive from past times. In whatever way, therefore, differently-disposed people may hitherto have thought and talked of Convocation, one fact is now patent and declared to the world; viz. that it really is a part of the external system in which we, of this land, now live. Some may have ignored its existence, in contempt or unconsciousness; others may have thought of it only as an antiquarian subject of research ; others may hear the sound of the word with a dread of being bored to death by stupid discussions; others may have formed uncomfortable alarms as to the prospect which it afforded of giving two great power of
expression to the parochial clergy, to the disparagement of dignatorial ease; while some have had a deep-set animosity to any
; scheme which threatened to give life and action to the Church; which animosity has periodically been quickened into a very lively degree of hatred by the thorn in the side, which the forms of synodical action have always been, when there has been any alarm of their revival. But to all these different states of knowledge or care about the subject, we feel able now to announce that Convocation is no longer a bare and deadened stem, but that the vegetation of its spring is quietly coming out, under the warming sun of a Providence which knows our necessities before we ask, and is wont to grant unto us more than either we desire or deserve. The answer, truly, seems to have been given before the question was put. It had never been seriously canvassed, as a general subject, whether the difficulties of the Church should be met by Convocation ; on the contrary, all manner of schemes have been mooted to meet particular wants, which, as far as they went, and were acquiesced in by Churchmen, were a substitute for the larger plan of Convocation. But although the consent of public opinion has not been obtained, though The Times' has not premonished the world of the looming of this ecclesiastical nightmare on the very open system of theology ascribed by that journal to the Protestant Establishment of this country, yet nevertheless, at her Majesty's most loving desire-if we are to credit her legal writs—and by reason of certain difficult and urgent affairs concerning Us, the security and defence of the Church of England, and the peace and tranquillity, public good ' and defence of our kingdom and our subjects of the same,' a very large body of Clergy are summoned to appear at a certain place, concurrently with the opening of Parliament, in order 'to treat of, agree to, and conclude upon the premises and ‘other things which to them shall then be more clearly explained
on our behalf. This Body of Clergy are now summoned to appear in Convocation, and the living or the dead state of that assembly, depends on whether the Clergy really meet, or whether, instead of converging to that ecclesiastical focus at the given time, they remain isolated in their studies or their drawing-rooms.
Of the probability of Proctors attending to their duties, we shall be able to judge by direct reference to the spirit in which their recent election has been conducted; and to this subject we invite the attention of our readers. The mere fact, however, that a large number of Proctors are returned who will certainly meet on the appointed day, is not, in its direct inference, the only ground on which we state so boldly that Convocation will assemble. That fact shows either that those who do attend, as
being favourable to its active functions, will, in the absence of such as hold other views, constitute a majority that must constitutionally be listened to; or it implies that the opponents of Convocation must actually be present in numbers suflicient to outweigh the supporters of it. In this case there will, necessarily, be a large body of the Clergy met for actual debate, if only on the question of petitioning the Crown; and with this momentum we think the ultimate success of the cause to be safe.
A contest, a hard-fought battle, whether lost or won, gives reality to any movement, which in the case of Convocation is felt to be the point most required, and of far more importance than the particular result of any one division. The opponents of Convocation will be in a manner defeated on every issue, both if they stay away and if they present themselves. Meanwhile, however, we leave it to them to choose their own tactics and count their own men, and ourselves proceed to the task of reviewing the almost unanimous expression of the whole parochial clergy, as shown in the recent election of Proctors, in favour of the active functions of Convocation.'
The election of Proctors for Convocation has attracted so little interest now for many generations, that few persons are at all acquainted with the legal forms by which it is done. Yet these forms are of great importance as evidence of the law; they explain the presumed value of Convocation as part of our Constitution, and they impress upon the Clergy their individual responsibility in the duty of electing fit men to represent them in the arduous tasks which pertain to an ecclesiastical synod. Many clergymen have been powerfully struck, at the recent elections, with words, read in an official manner by the registrar, of which they had never been conscious as forming part of our country's law. Grievances had been felt by quiet and uncomplaining churchmen; inconsistencies of a painful kind, with reference to the Church and State question, had been impressed upon their minds as the result of parochial experience ;-they had known that a remedy was wanted for evils, which long had been forced on their notice, and, without expressing their feelings in hacknied or vulgar language, they had still felt that the Church wanted a certain liberty, which active and living institutions must have if they are to be of real use;—they had witnessed the trial or attempted trial of many schemes for the government and regulation of Church affairs ; —they had in turn
So important and practical has the subject already become, that we have received the announcement of a Monthly Journal ‘in which the progress of the present movement will be detailed, and all information on the subject collected.' The proposed periodical, of which the first number is to appear in November, will be styled Synodalia.' (Whitaker, Pall Mall.)