Page images

BEADLE is chosen by the vestry. His duties are to attend upon the vestry, give notice of its meetings, execute its orders, attend upon inquests, and assist the constables, churchwardens, and overseers. His office is held only at the pleasure of the vestry (c). So far as his duties are ecclesiastical, he must be paid out of church funds, in new parishes out of pewrents (d).

BELL. There must be one bell in a church, to ring the people to service and to toll at funerals. A peal of bells is not necessary (e). One short peal should be rung before, and one other after, a burial (/). The bells should only be rung with the minister's consent, and they must not be rung against his express wish, or at all on holy days or eves abrogated by the book of common prayer (9). In a criminal suit promoted by the incumbent, it is not sufficient to allege that the ringing took place without the consent of the incumbent; it must be alleged to have been against his express wish (R). If the charge is proved a conviction will follow. Tolling the bell is an essential part of the burial rites of the Church of England ((). The property in the bells, as in other church

i ornaments, is in the churchwardens (2. v.) It is the sexton's duty to ring the bell, but if “ringers” are required, their appointment, change, or dismissal rests with the minister (k).

BENEFICE is a wide term, comprising, according to the definition in the Incumbents' Resignation Act, 1871, “all rectories with cure of souls, vicarages, new vicarages, perpetual curacies, donatives, endowed public chapels, parochial chapelries, and chapelries with or without districts annexed or belonging to them.” It also, strictly speaking, includes bishoprics and other dignities, but “cathedral preferments” has been adopted for the latter in some Acts of Parliament (1). No person can be admitted to any benefice in the Church of England unless he shall have been first ordained priest by episcopal ordination (m). During a vacancy in a benefice, the church wardens (q. v.) take charge of its property and obtain the services of a proper curate, but it is desirable that they should apply to the bishop to be appointed sequestrators before they incur any liability.

(c) Steer's Parish Law, p. 126. (d) 1 & 2 Will. 4, c. 38, s. 16.

le) Pearce v. Clapham (1795), 3 Hagg. Ecc. 16.

($) Can. 67. (9) Can. 88.

(h) Daunt v. Crocker (1867), L. R. 2 A. & E. 41.

(i) Burial Board v. Thompson (1871), L. R. 6 C. P. 445.

(K) See Dale's Guide, p. 93.

BENEFIT OF CLERGY, a privilege formerly granted to the clergy of being tried by the Ecclesiastical, instead of the civil, Court for any offence, no matter how heinous. The privilege was so much abused that the Legislature was forced from time to time to interfere, and finally, in 1827, it was abolished (n).

[ocr errors]

BIBLE (Gr. Bißacov, book) comprises (according to Art. 6) those canonical books of the Old and New Testaments, of whose authority there was never any doubt in the Church. The canon was settled about the fourth or fifth century, and by some Churches is taken to include the Apocrypha (9. r.). The authorized version, made from the original Hebrew and Greek was set forth in 1611, and has been adopted in the Prayer Book, except for the Psalter and the communion texts, which are from that edition of Tyndale’s translation known as Cranmer's Bible, and which was in use prior to 1611. Within the last few years a new and more accurate translation, known as the revised version, has been promulgated, but it has not yet supplanted the preceding ones. Although the authorized version is “ appointed to be read in churches," there seems to be no rule of law to prevent a clergyman reading the lessons from the revised version (). Some English translation must be used in ordinary churches in

(1) E.g. 13 & 14 Vict. c. 98, s. 3.
(m) 13 & 14 Car. 2, c. 4, s. 14.
(n) 7 & 8 Geo. 4, c. 28, s. 6.

(0) One bishop at les has stated that he will offer no obstacle to the lessons being read from the Revised Version.

England, and some Welsh translation, approved by the bishops, in Wales (p). In university chapels, Hebrew, Greek, or Latin may be used (2), and Latin may also be used at Westminster, Winchester, and Eton Schools, and in the convocations (). Every church and chapel must have a bible of the largest volume (s). All Protestant-Dissenters make use of the authorized or revised versions. Roman Catholics

a somewhat inaccurate Latin version known as the Vulgate, of which there are English translations.



BIDDING PRAYER is a prayer which, by the canon law, ought to be used before all sermons, lectures, and homilies, but is now rarely heard except in cathedrals, the Universities, and the Inns of Court. A form (which may be abbreviated) is given in Canon 55. Its use is also sanctioned by the Act of Uniformity Amendment Act (t).

BISHOP. The chief ecclesiastic of a diocese. Bishops are mentioned in the New Testament, but apparently as equivalent to elders or priests (w). This is explained by a very great, perhaps the greatest, authority on the subject as follows (x ):ÈTÍTXOTO was the name given in contemporary non-christian

associations to officers of administration and finance. Now in the Christian communities, there appears to have been from very early times a governing body of officers known individually as well as collectively by the name mpegsütepon (elders). “ They were also known,” Dr. Hatch continues, “for I shall here assume what the weight of evidence has rendered practically indisputable—by the name ĚTÍTXOTO (bishops). In their general capacity as a governing body they were known by names which were in current use for a governing body: in their special capacity as administrators

(P) Art. 24; and 5 Eliz, c. 28, s. 1.

(9) 2 & 3 Edw. 6, c. 1, s. 6.
(r) 13 & 14 Car. 2, c. 4, s. 18.
(8) Can. 80.


(4) Phill. I. 1, Tit. I. 7; 1 Tim. iii., 1-13; v. 17—22.

(x) Rev. Dr. Hatch, Bampton Lectures, pp. 38 and 39.


of church funds they were known by a name which was in current use for such administrators.” Subsequently, when it became necessary to have a chairman of the governing body, the name énítxonos clung to him only, as the place which the president occupied in the eyes of the assembly was chiefly that of an administrator. Accordingly, about the middle of the second century we find every church presided over by an officer called a bishop; thus, about A.D. 160 there is said to have been a bishop of Antioch, Alexandria, and Rome, and also of minor churches such as London, York, and Caerleon. The position of a bishop then was simply that of a primus inter pares among the priests in his parish or diocese; the supremacy and monarchical character of the bishop was of later growth (y). The Church of Rome still ranks bishops and priests in one order, although superior powers are conferred on the former. In early times, bishops appear to have been elected by clergy and laity; afterwards when Christianity became the established religion, the emperors and later the sovereigns of the various kingdoms of Europe took the appointment in some degree into their own hands and reserved the right of confirming the elections and of granting investiture of the temporalities without which the elected bishop could neither be consecrated, nor receive any secular profits. Hence, the right of appointing to bishoprics is said to have been in the Crown of England, even in Saxon times (z). The immense power wielded by the Church of Rome in the Norman and Plantaganet period succeeded in wresting this right from the king who retained only the useless form of granting a licence to elect (congé d'élire), the real election lying with the clergy. In the reign

) of Henry VIII. the ancient right of election was restored to the Crown. The form of congé d'élire is retained, but the licence is always accompanied with a letter missive from the sovereign containing the name of the person whom he would have them elect; and if the dean and chapter delay their

[ocr errors]

(y) Ibid.; sect. 4.

(s) 1 Bla. Com. 378.

election above twelve days, the nomination devolves on the sovereign, who may, by letters patent, appoint such person as he pleases. The modern bishoprics are elected, too, by the royal letters patent. Such are Oxford, Peterborough, Chester, and Gloucester and Bristol (erected by Henry VIII.), Manchester, Ripon, Truro, Liverpool, St. Albans, Newcastle, Southwell, and Wakefield (erected in the present reign)(w). The Church of England, therefore, in this as in other matters, has travelled a good way back on the road to primitive Christian customs. The election of a bishop must be signified by the Queen's mandate to the archbishop of a province, of an archbishop to the other archbishop and two bishops or four bishops requiring them to confirm, invest, and consecrate the person elected which they are bound to perform immediately. After which the bishop elect shall sue the Queen for his temporalities, shall make oath to the Queen and none other, and shall take restitution of his secular possessions out of the Queen's hands only. A refusal to elect, confirm, or consecrate carries with it the penalties of a præmunire (q. v.) (a).

The most ancient diocese is probably London: once an archbishopric, and from its importance undoubtedly the proper seat of the primate of all England. It is also the most populous diocese, although some of the suburbs of London are comprised in St. Albans, Rochester, and Canterbury dioceses. The largest is St. Davids: for centuries an archbishopric. It is shortly to be divided. That with the greatest number of benefices is Norwich (6).

Formerly, all the bishops of England and Wales (except Sodor and Man) had seats in the House of Lords, but since 1847 (when new bishopries began to be created) only the two archbishops, the bishops of London, Durham, and Winchester, and 21 other bishops (apparently still exclusive of Sodor and Man) in order of seniority are allowed to sit (c), and these

(2) See 6 & 7 Will. 4, c. 77 ; 38 & 39 Vict. c. 34 ; 39 & 40 Vict. c. 54 ; and others, in Chron. Index.

(a) i Bla. Com. 380; and Form of

Consecration in Prayer Bool

(1) For list of bishoprics, see ARCHBISHOP.

(c) 10 & 11 Vict. c. 108, s. 2.

« PreviousContinue »