Church of England

CHURCH OF ENGLAND. Christianity was introduced into Britain at the end of the first, or beginning of the second, century. Three British Bishops were present at a Council held at Arles, in Gaul, in 314. At the invasion of the heathen Anglo-Saxons the British Church retreated into Wales. In 597 Gregory the Great, Bishop of Rome, sent Augustine to this island, who was instrumental in reviving Christianity in the south-east of England. When he came he found seven Bishoprics existing, and two Archbishoprics, viz., London and York. Augustine was made the first Archbishop of Canterbury; this was the first appointment by Papal authority in England. The northern part of England was evangelized in the earlier portion of the following century, by Irish Missionaries from Iona, under Aidan, Bishop of Lindisfarne; and his successor, Finan, who lived to see Christianity everywhere established north of the Humber, and died in 662. "The planting, therefore, of the Gospel in the Anglo-Saxon provinces of Britain was the work of two rival Missionary bands (597 to 662); in the south, the Roman, aided by their converts, and some teachers out of Gaul; in the north, the Irish, whom the conduct of Augustine and his party had estranged from their communion. If we may judge from the area of their field of action, it is plain that the Irish were the larger body; but a host of conspiring causes gradually resulted in the spread and ascendancy of Roman modes of thought." (Hardwick.)

In the time of Archbishop Theodore (668—689) the fusion of the English Christians was completed, and the Pope began to assert (not without opposition) an usurped authority in the English Church (c.f., Hardwick).

What are called the "dark ages" were indeed dark in the Church, for then it was that she became erring in faith, doctrine, and practice, and almost a caricature of what she once was. This state of things continued until the 16th century, when the Reformation took place. The movement was popular in England, and nearly all, clergy and people, were glad to see the superstitions and corruptions which had crept into the Church swept away by Archbishop Cranmer and his colleagues. Still, there was a party which would take no share in this movement, but remained faithful to the Pope,—the representatives of what was falsely called the "old faith." Notwithstanding the differences of faith between these two parties, they both continued nominally members of the Church of England. It was not until 1569 that the Roman Catholic party seceded from the Church of England, and formed a distinct sect. It is most important for Churchmen to remember that the Church of England did not secede from that of Rome, but Romanists seceded from the Church of England. Just as Naaman the leper remained the same Naaman after he was cured of his leprosy as he was before, so the Church of England remained the same Church of England after the Reformation as she was before, composed of the same duly consecrated Bishops, of the same duly ordained Clergy, and of the same faithful people. The present Church of England is the old Catholic Church of England, reformed in the 16th century of certain superstitious errors, but still the same Church which came down from our British and Saxon ancestors, and as such it possesses its original endowments, which were never, as some suppose, taken from one Church and given to another. And thus, when Roman Catholics speak of our grand old Cathedrals and Parish Churches as being once theirs, they assert what is not historically true. These buildings always belonged, as they do now, to the Church of England, which Church has been continuous from British times to the present. (See Endowment.)

The Established Church in England is governed by 2 Archbishops and 31 Bishops. Besides these, there are 4 Suffragan (which see) Bishops (Dover, Bedford, Nottingham, and Colchester). There are also 22 retired Colonial Bishops in England. Four new Bishoprics have recently been created, and two more are in course of formation. As assistants to the Bishops there are 82 Archdeacons, and 613 Rural Deans. There about 13,500 benefices in England, and about 23,000 clergymen of every class. The Church sittings number about 6,200,000. It is somewhat difficult to arrive at the number of the members of the Church of England, as Nonconformists have always objected to a religious census being made. Taking the following official returns, we find that, out of every 100,—

Chrchs. Dsntrs.

  School returns give 72 28
  Cemetery " " 70 30
  Marriages " " 75 25
  Army " " 63 37
   (Of which 37 no fewer than 24 are Roman Catholics.)
  Navy returns give 75 25
  Workhouse " " 79 21
  Giving an average of 72 per cent, to the Church, and 28 per cent,
  to Dissenters.
  The whole population in England and Wales in 1878 was 24,854,397
  Church population at 72 percent. 17,995,159
  Nonconformist population (including Roman Catholics) 6,859,238

With regard to Educational Matters, we find that


  In Day Schools connected with the Church, there are 2,092,846
  Ditto with Wesleyans 173,804
  Ditto Roman Catholics 223,423
  In British and Undenominational Schools 324,144
  School Board Schools 1,197,927

  We also find that on Hospital Sunday, 1881, the following
  contributions were made:

  Church of England L174,662
  Methodists (the various sects together) L 9,012

  For Missionary purposes the sums of money collected in 1881

  Church of England L460,395
  Nonconformist Societies in England L313,177

Statistics of the Anglican Communion  BishopsClergy.

  England and Wales (including 4 Suffragan,
  and 4 Assistant, Bishops) 41 23,000
  Ireland 12 1,700
  Scotland 7 250
  British Colonies, India, &c. 75 3,100
  United States 69 3,600
  Retired Bishops 22
                                            —- ———
  Total (in round numbers) 226 30,000