§ Commons' Amendments considered (according to Order.)
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
said, be should move that their Lordships do agree to the Commons' Amendments in this Bill. Two only were of importance. One of them permitted the use of the present Lectionary until the 1st of January, 1879—the intention being to give time for the gradual withdrawal of the present Prayer Books from churches; and another specified more distinctly the occasion on which the Bishop might direct a change to be made in the Lessons.
§ In answer to a Question of the Earl of CARNARVON,
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
said, he saw no reason why the old Tables of Lessons and the new Tables should not be printed side by side, if there should be a wish to have both.
§ EARL STANHOPE
objected to the Amendments; but seeing the difficulty with which the Bill had escaped the "Massacre of the Innocents" in the House of Commons, he should be unwilling to send it back thither. He understood that the use of the present Lectionary until 1879 was to be optional in deference to the scruples of certain clergymen as to the use of the new Tables. It was strange, however, that those scruples should be respected for seven and a-half years and then cease to be so.
§ LORD CAIRNS
asked which of the two reasons assigned for the Amendment was the correct one. If the object was to respect scruples, it must be thought that scruples, like vaccination, lost their efficacy in seven years. He had been told that the extension of time was adopted at the suggestion of the right rev. Bench. But he did not see that the people ought to be left in doubt which Lectionary was to be in use during the next seven years. He saw no risk of the loss of the Bill by disagreeing to the Amendment.
THE ARCHBISHOP OF YORK
explained that a proposal being made in the House of Commons to make the use of the old Table optional for all time, and that the two Tables should be printed side by side, it was suggested by some right rev. Prelates that the question might be met by leaving it optional for a longer 1202 time than had been intended. He thought seven and a-half years a needlessly long period; but a considerable number of the clergy had scruples as to the use of the new Table. The Amendment would give them time to consider how far those scruples were valid, and when they saw the working of the new Table in adjoing churches they would, if reasonable men, abandon their scruples.
THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
said, it had always been felt that some time must be allowed before the use of the new Tables became compulsory, and how long that period was was of little importance. Seven years might be too long a period; but it was not worth while to imperil the Bill on that account. He trusted, with his most rev. Friend, that the general convenience of the new Tables would secure their general adoption. The more distinct definition of the occasions when the Tables might be departed from would, he believed, be acceptable to the clergy generally. He was thankful that the Bill had reached the present stage, and thought it a good omen that a measure of ecclesiastical reform was likely to become law. He regretted that the Bill had not been made part of a more enlarged scheme of ecclesiastical reform. It was his impression that the recommendations of the Ritual Commissioners should have been embodied in a more enlarged scheme, of which this Bill would have been part. Having while at a distance addressed the clergy on the importance of sundry ecclesiastical reforms, he was thankful to say that four out of the six or seven measures which he then recommended was likely to become law this Session—namely, the Sequestration Bill, the Union of Benefices Bill, the Registration of Benefices Bill, and the present measure. This was a happy omen, for there had been a general impression that all measures of ecclesiastical reform were likely to be thwarted, owing to the feeling existing in the country with regard to an Established Church. He had often heard it stated that a large number of persons being opposed to an Established Church on principle wished the Church to have as many faults as possible, and were determined that it should be in no way improved. Now, he had never believed that the common fairness and common sense of Englishmen, whether Churchmen or not, would allow them to acquiesce in such a mode of opposing the 1203 Established Church. He rejoiced, therefore, at the practical refutation of the supposed impossibility of carrying ecclesiastical reforms through the House of Commons, and hailed it as a proof, not only that the members of the Church were anxious to improve it, but that they had the sanction and good feeling of the whole of their fellow-countrymen in making the Church as effective as possible for its great purposes.
THE BISHOP OF CARLISLE
said, he should have rejoiced to see effect given to others of the recommendations of the Ritual Commissioners; but he thought that to have embodied them in a Bill without the concurrence of the Convocations of Canterbury and York would have been disastrous to the Church.
§ Motion agreed to.