§ On Order of the Day for resuming the adjourned Debate on the Second Reading of this Bill,
§ THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY
said, that he would not withdraw the Bill, but would allow its life to expire with the life of the Session, only saying a few words in explanation of the course he had pursued in reference to the measure. It was clear that as soon as the Ritual Commission was appointed it became impossible for him to propose that the second reading of the Bill should be proceeded with, for, if he had, he would have been told that it was first of all desirable to wait for the Report of the Commission. He had therefore postponed the Bill from day to day in the hope that before long the Report of the Commission would be presented. It was on the 14th of May that the appointment of the Commission was promised, and its first sitting did not take place until the 17th of June. It was now beyond the 17th of August, and their Lordships had only that evening heard, simultaneously with the closing of the Session, that the Report was prepared. He was not going to pass any comment on this state of things, as he was satisfied that the country would pass a more severe censure on it than he could presume to do, for the Report was not ready until it was too late to take either the Bill or the Report into consideration. The country was far from indifferent with respect to this subject, as was shown by the number of Petitions which had been presented in favour of the Clerical Vestments Bill. They amounted to 1,120, while the Petitions against the measure only amounted to five. The course pursued by the Commission had not tended to abate suspicion, or allay irritation. He really 1632 thought that the Church of England stood in a worse position at the present moment than it had done when he first brought this matter forward. There was a large party in the Church, commonly called the High Church party, who thought that they could be severed from the State and still preserve the temporalities of the Church. That was just as impossible as for a man to walk this earth and not be subject to the laws of gravitation. Another party was still connected with the Church, but no longer so affectionately attached to it as formerly, for the indifference beginning to prevail among members of the Church of England was positively alarming. A third party, zealously and conscientiously attached to the Church of England, was anxious to maintain the Church in all its purity; but the prevailing sentiment among these was that they would rather have no Establishment at all than an Establishment apostate from the doctrines and discipline of the Reformation. He concluded by stating that he would now leave the Clerical Vestments Bill to lie on the table and to expire with the close of the Session.
THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
said, he thought it right, as the noble Earl had censured the Ritual Commission for not presenting the Report earlier, to state that the Commission had already had nineteen sittings, and had spared neither time nor labour in arriving at the conclusion it had come to, The question submitted to the Commission was one of the gravest character and of the greatest possible importance to the Church of England. A more important matter had not been brought under the consideration of a Commission since the Reformation; and it would have been improper to proceed with the investigation hastily and without receiving full evidence. He thought the noble Earl's censure undeserved, for the Commission had honestly and steadfastly discharged its duty.
THE BISHOP OF LONDON
said, he felt bound to express his concurrence in what had fallen from the most reverend Prelate; and the noble Earl, if he had acceded to the proposal to be a member of the Commission, would have found that the labour of the Commission was hard work, and he would not have been surprised that it had occupied so long a time. There had been the most earnest desire on the part of the Commissioners to go into the matter fully and in as expeditious a way as possible; and if it should happen that the Session 1633 came to an end before the Report of the Commissioners appeared, that was no fault of theirs. No persons were more convinced than the Commissioners of the gravity of the circumstances, and of that fact the noble Earl would be convinced when he read the Report.
§ Further debate on the Motion for Second Reading put off sine die.
§ House adjourned at half past Five o'clock, till To-morrow, Twelve o'clock.