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The Trial of the Bishop of Lincoln.

The Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury sat at Lambeth Palace and continued the hearing of the arguments on the admission of the articles against the Bishop of Lincoln. His Grace was attended by his assessors, the Bishops of London, Hereford, Oxford, Rochester, and Salisbury, and by his vicar-general, Sir James Parker Deane, Q,C. Sir Horace Davey asked to be allowed to resume his argument on behalf of the promoters. He said he would put it in the form of a dilemma: either the bishop was a priest within the rubric, or he was not. But it was admitted that when acting in another diocese ho was a priest within the rubric, then why not when officiating in his own? The true defence was that he was not a priest, but something more. But there was no higher function than that which a priest had to perform in consecrating the elements and officiating at the Holy Communion. If the bißhop was not a priest within the meaning of the rubric, the logical consequence was that he could not celebrate the Holy Communion at all, for the Act of Uniformity required that this should only be done according to certain prescribed forms. Thatoccasional services couldnot be used was not a consequence of his argument, and there was a latitude for using extraordinary prayers on special occasions, as in the consecrating of a church. All that he contended for was that where particular forms of service were prescribed no others could be used. It had been said that there was no case in which a bishop had been indicted for ritual offences, but this was no answer, and the Statute of Elizabeth, incorporated in that of Charles 11., made all offences against it ecclesiastical offences. It had been objected also that the bishop was authorised to sit with the Judges of assize in trying such offences, and that so it could not be intended that he should be himself liable. It might be pointed out also that the bishop was a judge in his own consistory court. But, Burely, Sir Walter Phillimore did not draw the inference that the fact of a judge having jurisdiction placed him above the law; if that was his argument, it only required to be stated to be refated. He should have said that this fact rather imposed on the bishop an additional obligation to obey the law, and he was surprised that his

learned friend should have advanced any such a:.^ument.

Dr Tristram, following on the same side, said that the question was whether the words "all and singular ministers" in the statutes of Elizabeth and Charles 11. included bishops. He submitted that the word "minister" was general. In the preface to the ordination service it was defined to include bishops, and that service formed part of the statutes.- Moreover, in case of doubt, he was entitled to appeal to the object of the statutes, which was clearly to introduce uniformity, and the same appeared from the preamble of the statute of Charles 11. If in these statutes it had been intended to restrict ministers to the inferior clergy it would have been easy to say so. As to the objection that the present bishops and their predecessors had, if they were bound by the rubrics, been wearing illegal vestments, he pointed out that the Privy Council had decided in Ridsdale v. Clifton that the ornaments rubric was superseded by the advertisements, and these provided that bishops and archbishops were to use their i accustomed apparel. Sir Walter Phillimore replied on behalf of the Bishop of Lincoln. He urged that before the Reformation bishops were at liberty to alter the service, and said that when once the historical state of civilisation had been reached, no change in established customs could be allowed except by positive enactment. Bishops had not been created afresh at the Reformation, and the burden of proof that their status had been altered lay upon the other side. He proceeded to give further reasons why the words "all and singular ministers," in the Acts of Uniformity could not include bishops, and urged that they only referred to the Bettled minister of a place or his substitute. They therefore bound the dean and canons in a cathedral and parish priests, but not a bishop, who came in by a title of his own. They referred, indeed, to those who before the Reformation were bound to use the Roman breviary, and now are bound to use the Book of Common Prayer. Lastly, he said that che motto " Salvd fidt" was the only proper limitation upon a bishop's action. There was nothing objectionable in giving a discretion to twenty or thirty eminent persons chosen with the sanction of the Crown, and after a long probation. Rather they should be likened to officials who held their places on honor. The gist of the matter was : what harm could there be, if the law did not forbid, in bishops taking up this or that usage, provided it imported no false doctrine? The case of the promoters really was that they disliked the doctrine which these practices were supposed to symbolise, and whioh could not be attacked. But if the doctrine was legal there was no harm in the usages when these were adopted by the bishop at his discretion.

The Archbishop delivered judgment. He and his assessors bad before them the cbjec* tions to the articles which had been raised by the counsel for the Bishop of Lincoln. The first had not been pressed. As to the second, thero was no reason for holding that when a bishop was ministering in any office prescribed by the Book of Common Prayer, he was not bound to use the forms contained therein. Consequently the objection was overruled, although he stated that the Bishop of Salisbury agreed with it. As to the statement by the Bishop of Lincoln, which counsel had, with some irregularity, read on the previous day, that, of coarse, so far as the Court was concerned, could have no practical effect. Some discussion then took place as to the further proceedings, and the proctors for the Bishop of Lincoln were assigned to bring in their responsive allegation within a fortnight. It was arranged that the hearing of the case on the merits would not take place till after October.

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Bibliographic details

The Trial of the Bishop of Lincoln., Issue 8018, 21 September 1889, Supplement

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The Trial of the Bishop of Lincoln. Issue 8018, 21 September 1889, Supplement

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