Project Canterbury

Colonial Church Histories: New Zealand

Containing the Dioceses of Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Nelson, Waiapu, Wellington, and Melanesia.

By Henry Jacobs

London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1887.

Part III. The Period of Subsequent Growth and Development.


Fifth General Synod--Bishop Cowie--Bishop Hadfield--Dunedin Bishopric Case--The Bishoprics Statute--The Discipline Statutes--Diocesan Boards Statute--Modification of Services--Close of Session--Consecration of Bishop Nevill--Action of English Prelates--The Primate's Letter--Bishop Jenner's Reply--Death of Bishop Patteson--Sixth General Synod--Constitutional Questions--Statute No. 19--Bishopric of Dunedin again--Board of Theological Studies--St. John's College, Auckland--The Melanesian Bishopric.

We must now pass on to the meeting of the Fifth General Synod, which took place at Dunedin in the City Council Chambers, on the 1st February, 1871. On this occasion the Most Rev. H. J. C. Harper, D.D., Bishop of Christchurch, took the President's chair for the first time as Primate of New Zealand. Besides the Primate, four other bishops were present, namely, the Right Rev. William Williams, D.D., Bishop of Waiapu; the Right Rev. Andrew Burn Suter, D.D,, Bishop of Nelson; the Right Rev. William Garden Cowie, D. D., Bishop of Auckland--the title, "Bishop of New Zealand," having fitly expired on the resignation of the first holder of it; and the Right Rev. Octavius Hadfield, D.D., Bishop of Wellington. Bishop Patteson was unable to attend by reason of serious illness. Dr. Cowie had been selected by Bishop Selwyn in England, the Diocesan Synod of Auckland having delegated to him its right of nomination, on the understanding that he should appoint a clergyman in England, and the General Synod having, at its session in 1868, confirmed by anticipation any nomination he might think fit to make. It had also requested him to take the necessary steps for the consecration of his nominee, and Bishop Cowie was accordingly consecrated, under royal mandate, by the Archbishop of Canterbury (Dr. Tait), on St. Peter's Day, 1869, in Westminster Abbey. [Footnote: The Rev. W. G. Cowie had been ordained by Bishop Turton, of Ely, deacon in 1854, priest in 1855. After holding curacies at St. Clement's, Cambridge, and Moulton, Suffolk, he was appointed to an Army Chaplaincy in India, and went to Lucknow with Sir Colin Campbell's army in 1858, being one of the chaplains of the division commanded by Sir Robert Walpole, and was present throughout the operations which ended in the capture of that city. Was present also at all the battles of the subsequent Rohilcund campaign with Sir R. Walpole. After five years of army chaplain's work in India, he was chaplain to the Viceroy's camp (Lord Elgin) in 1863. After Lord Elgin's death was appointed chaplain to Sir Neville Chamberlain's column in the expedition against the Afghan tribes in the end of 1863, and was present at the capture of Laloo and at other engagements, receiving the medals for the two campaigns. In 1864, became chaplain to the Bishop of Calcutta (Dr. Cotton), and accompanied him on his travels in the North of India. In 1865 was chaplain on duty in Cashmere. In 1867 was appointed by the Lord Chancellor to the Rectory of St. Mary's, Stafford.] With reference to the consecration of Bishop Hadfield, the following extract from the new Primate's address to the Synod will be found interesting and important:--"On the 1st June, 1870, Bishop Abraham's resignation of the See of Wellington took effect, and at the meeting of the Synod of that diocese the Ven. Octavius Hadfield, Archdeacon of Kapiti, was nominated to the vacant see, and was duly consecrated to the office of a bishop in the cathedral church of Wellington, on Sunday, the 9th of October last, by myself, assisted by the Bishops of Waiapu, of Nelson, and of Auckland I have laid upon the table copies of the mandate issued by myself for the consecration of the bishop, and read during the service; of the declaration made by the bishop-elect, and of the document certifying to his consecration. As these were used for the first time on this occasion, and, in the case of the two former, are deviations from the form of ordaining and consecrating bishops as given in the Ordinal, it is due to the representative body of the Church that they should be brought to its notice. A very important step has been taken thereby in the New Zealand Church, and what has been done in this matter concerns, not only the Church of this day, but the Church of the future also." Sixteen clerical and twenty lay representatives were present. Of the latter Sir William Martin was one, this being the last session of the General Synod he ever attended.

Two important documents on the Jenner case were laid on the table of the Synod by the Primate. The first was a printed copy of a "judgment" of the Archbishop of Canterbury (Dr. Tait) on Bishop Jenner's claim to the See of Dunedin; and the second, a letter from Bishop Jenner himself to the Primate, protesting against "the invasion of his diocesan rights" in the "performance of episcopal functions in the Diocese of Dunedin" by the Primate, as Bishop of Christchurch. The Archbishop's "judgment" was, by his own avowal, based exclusively on the statements of the Bishop of Lichfield and Bishop Jenner, and commenced with this most important qualification:--"I must premise that the following judgment is founded only on a partial statement of the case; and I am necessarily in ignorance how far it might be my duty to modify it, if I were in possession of such statements as the Churchmen resident in New Zealand might wish to forward, if they had the opportunity." The conclusion of the opinion is that his Grace thought that Dr. Jenner had "an equitable claim to be considered Bishop of Dunedin." "But," he added, "as I can scarcely suppose that he is prepared to force himself upon a body which is now unwilling to receive him, my advice is the same as that of the General Synod of New Zealand, viz., that he should forego his claim." It can hardly fail to be regarded as a matter of regret that the Archbishop should have ventured to give any judgment at all in a matter seriously affecting the internal government and order of a province of the Anglican Communion, without being requested by the duly constituted authority of the Provincial Church to intervene in the matter, and avowedly on ex parte statements only. The effect was that Bishop Jenner considered himself, as he stated in his letter above referred to, "amply justified, as the Primate of All England had pronounced in his favour, in renewing the contest for his rightful position." He [343/344] was, accordingly, emboldened to address a pastoral letter to the clergy and laity of the diocese, in which he declared that "he was, and had been since the day of his consecration, Bishop of Dunedin, and that he claimed, and should continue to claim, all the rights and privileges belonging to that position, including spiritual jurisdiction over the Diocese of Dunedin." The Primate, in his address, referred to these documents in terms of exemplary calmness and dignity, as follows:--"I have received by the last mail, from Bishop Jenner, the judgment or opinion of his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury respecting Bishop Jenner's claims to the See of Dunedin. There is a letter also from the bishop, addressed to myself, which I consider it expedient to lay before you, because it questions my right, as Bishop of Christchurch, to administer the See of Dunedin. My right to do so, or, as I would rather say, my duty, may be regarded as resting on two grounds: either on the fact of my consecration under Royal Letters Patent to the See of Christchurch, which at that time included the provinces of Canterbury and Otago and Southland, and which, as yet, I have never formally resigned; or on the authority of the General Synod, which, in its Statute No. 12, has declared that "until a day to be fixed in that behalf by the Standing Commission, the Bishop of Christchurch shall continue to have charge of the Diocese of Dunedin, and for the purpose of the statute for the organization of Diocesan Synods, shall be deemed and taken to be the bishop of that diocese, Whichever of these grounds is taken, my spiritual [344/345] oversight of the Diocese of Dunedin is founded, I conceive, on very sufficient authority. But I am quite content to leave the whole matter in the hands of this Synod, in the full assurance that due deference will be paid to the opinions expressed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the claims of Bishop Jenner be impartially considered, and with much sympathy with him for the position in which he has been placed. I will only add that I am persuaded that it is for the interests of the Church that this Diocese of Dunedin should be speedily entrusted to the charge of a bishop who may be able to reside in it; and I shall be very thankful if arrangements can be made for that purpose, though quite ready to continue in the charge of it, if such arrangements at this time be thought impracticable."

On the sixth day of the session, the following resolution was moved, and carried without a division:--"That, whereas the last General Synod of the branch of the United Church of England and Ireland in New Zealand took into consideration all the circumstances of the nomination and consecration of Bishop Jenner, and did thereupon formally request that he should withdraw his claim to the position of Bishop of Dunedin for the sake of the peace of the Church, to which request Bishop Jenner has declined to accede; and whereas the law of the Church requires the sanction of the General Synod to the nomination of a Bishop to any see in New Zealand--Resolved, that this Synod does hereby refuse to sanction the nomination of Bishop Jenner to the See of Dunedin, whether that nomination were in due [345/346] form or otherwise. But at the same time this Synod begs to express its sympathy with Bishop Jenner in the painful position in which he has been placed." Here at length, then, was a conclusion and a judgment sufficiently distinct and absolutely unmistakeable, and upon the ground of this resolution the Church of New Zealand has thenceforth taken its stand. And, it may be added, if the General Synod had not had sufficient reason before for arriving at this conclusion, such sufficient reason must have obtruded itself on its notice in the defiant language and tone of the letter to the Bishop of Christchurch laid by him on the table of the Synod, in which Dr. Jenner thus wrote:--"It is manifestly no fault of mine if this re-assertion of my rights conflicts with the authority of the General Synod of 1868. For my occupation of the see being (as I contend) antecedent to the action, nay, even to the existence, of that body, it was unconstitutional to proceed (as the Synod did) as if the see were vacant. That part of the proceedings of the General Synod, therefore, which has reference to the Diocese of Dunedin, I treat as null and void."

At this session of the Synod the following important measures, amongst others, were discussed and settled:--viz. I. The Bishoprics Statute. A new Statute (No. 14) was enacted "For Regulating the Division of Dioceses, the Alteration of the Boundaries of Dioceses, the Constitution of new Bishoprics, and the Mode of Appointing Bishops." The main provisions of this enactment are: (1) In the case of a new Diocese, the nomination of the first bishop shall [346/347] proceed from a Convention of the licensed clergy resident within its boundaries and representatives of the laity, the election of such representatives to be made in such manner as shall be determined by the Primate, or a commissary specially appointed by him for the purpose; (2) The Primate, or his commissary, to convene and preside over the Convention; (3) The nomination of a bishop to be made by one of the clergy, and seconded by one of the lay representatives; (4) The votes to be taken by ballot, and an absolute majority of the votes of each Order required for an election; (5) If the required majority be not given for any clergyman on the first ballot, a second, and, if necessary, a third ballot to be taken, and, in case the third should be ineffectual, additional nominations may be made; (6) In the election of all succeeding bishops, the same method to be observed by the Diocesan Synod; (7) The Convention or the Diocesan Synod, as the case may be, may delegate its right of nomination to any person or persons it may appoint, either absolutely or subject to conditions; (8) Whereas it is required, by the 23rd clause of the Constitution, that every such nomination should be sanctioned by the General Synod, or, if the General Synod be not in session, by the majority of the Standing Committees of the several dioceses, it was further provided by this statute that, in the event of that confirmation being given by the Standing Committees, these committees should vote by orders.

II. The Discipline Statutes. The Statute "To define Ecclesiastical Offences and the punishments [347/348] thereof," was carefully considered and amended, and, together with the Tribunals Statute, which the Synod finally determined to leave unamended for the time then present, was continued in force until the end of the next triennial session.

III. Diocesan Boards Statute. A Statute (No.16) was passed, not without considerable opposition, for "Establishing Diocesan Boards for the purpose of considering the General Fitness for the Ministry of Candidates for Deacons' Orders." Its chief provisions were these:--(1) A Board to be elected annually by each Diocesan Synod, to be called "The Diocesan Board." (2) Every application to be allowed to become a candidate for deacon's orders to be made by the candidate in writing to the bishop, and to be accompanied by certain specified information respecting himself. (3) The bishop, if he think fit, to lay such application before the Board. (4) "If, having regard to the age, character, education, circumstances, and general personal qualifications of the applicant, the Board shall be satisfied that he is fitted in those respects for the work of the ministry, and likely to be generally acceptable as a minister of the Church, they shall certify such their opinion in manner hereinafter mentioned." (5) No person to be placed on the list of candidates for deacon's orders, unless his general fitness on the grounds before mentioned be certified by not less than two-thirds of the members of the Board. This statute was introduced by one bishop and strongly supported by another; it was originally drafted by Sir William Martin; but several of the clergy and laity objected to it as [348/349] an interference with the prerogative of the bishop, and as likely to prevent some desirable candidates from coming forward; and their objections prevailed so far as to cause the statute to be made a provisional one--to "continue in force until the end of the next session but one of the General Synod, and no longer."

IV. Modification of Services. The Synod affirmed an important resolution to the effect that it "recognises the expediency of a certain discretion being exercised by the bishops in sanctioning from time to time such divisions in the services, and modifications in the manner of celebrating those services, as may be urgently required by the circumstances of the clergy or of the people." Whereupon the question was formally asked of the Right Rev. Bench by the Rev. R. Burrows, whether they were "prepared to state what divisions and modifications they were willing to sanction, and under what circumstances." On a subsequent day the Primate read a carefully-considered reply of their lordships, specifying in detail the modifications they were prepared to sanction. We may confidently state that the arrangements thus made, which have been very generally acted upon throughout the country, have given universal satisfaction to the clergy and people of the Anglican Communion in New Zealand.

V. Supply and Training of Candidates for the Ministry. A Select Committee was appointed to consider this subject, and made a valuable report, which was ordered to be published in the appendix of the Synod Report for the session, and bore fruit, [349/350] as we shall see, at the next triennial session in the establishment of the Board of Theological Studies.

The Fifth General Synod, having sat for fourteen days, broke up on the 18th February, 1871, the President having first called on all present to join him in repeating the Gloria in Excelsis, after which he pronounced the Benediction.

We must now return once more to the history of the Bishopric of Dunedin. In the 4th clause of the Bishoprics Statute, 1871, the main provisions of which we have just described, it was laid down as a proviso to the clause directing that the first bishop of a new diocese should be elected by a Convention of the licensed clergy and representatives of the laity, as follows:--"Provided that the nomination of the first Bishop of Dunedin shall be made by the Diocesan Synod." [Footnote: The expression, "First Bishop of Dunedin," should be noted. Whatever inconsistencies or errors individuals, or other bodies, may have fallen into with regard to this perplexed question, the course of the General Synod has been clear and consistent throughout; it has never recognised Bishop Jenner as having been at any time Bishop of Dunedin.] Accordingly, in March, 1871, after the breaking up of the Fifth General Synod, the first session of the Second Synod of the Diocese of Dunedin was held under the presidency of the Bishop of Christchurch, when the Synod, having resolved to proceed to the election of a bishop and the President having requested all present to join in silent prayer, the Rev. E. G. Edwards nominated the Rev. Samuel Tarratt Nevill, M.A., of Magdalen College, Cambridge, Rector of Shelton, Staffordshire, [350/351] to the Bishopric of Dunedin. [Footnote: Mr. Nevill had been travelling with Mrs. Nevill in New Zealand, having brought letters of introduction from the Bishop of Lichfield, his diocesan; was present at St. Paul's, Wellington, at the consecration of Bishop Hadfield, and had been staying for some time previous to the session of the Synod in Dunedin and the neighbourhood. Bishop Nevill was ordained by the Bishop of Chester, deacon 1860, priest 1861. The degree of D.D. was conferred on him by the University of Cambridge in 1872.] The nomination was seconded by Mr. W. Carr Young, and no other nomination having been made, a ballot was taken, and the Rev. Samuel Tarratt Nevill was declared by the President to be duly elected. Having signed the declaration of adhesion to the Constitution, and his nomination having been confirmed by the standing committees of the several dioceses, the bishop-elect was consecrated at St. Paul's, Dunedin, on Trinity Sunday, June 4th, 1871, by the Most Rev. the Primate, assisted by the Bishops of Waiapu, Nelson, and Wellington. On the same day the Bishop of Christchurch formally resigned the charge of the bishopric of Dunedin, and, as Primate of New Zealand, inducted the Right Rev. S. T. Nevill into the bishopric of the See.

The Primate forthwith notified the appointment and consecration of Bishop Nevill to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and in May, 1872, received in reply the following resolution of the archbishops and bishops of the Church of England assembled at Lambeth Palace on the 5th February, 1872:--"The Archbishop of Canterbury, having announced to the bishops assembled, that he had received from the [351/352] Bishop of Christchurch a notification of the Rev. Samuel Tarratt Nevill having been elected and consecrated to the see of Dunedin, in the province of New Zealand; and Bishop Jenner having signified to the Archbishop of Canterbury his resignation of the see; it was resolved that the Archbishop of Canterbury be requested to inform the Bishop of Christchurch that the archbishops and bishops assembled are ready to recognise the Rev. Samuel Tarratt Nevill as second Bishop of Dunedin, taking, however, for granted that his grace will receive some more formal announcement of the consecration."

On the receipt of the foregoing resolution, the Primate of New Zealand wrote, and caused to be printed (for private circulation), a letter addressed to the archbishops and bishops in communion with the Church of England, giving in full detail the whole history of the Jenner case from the beginning, stating the ground on which the General Synod had acted, and protesting most respectfully and temperately, but at the same time with much vigour and dignity, against the conclusion arrived at by the prelates of the Church of England. His lordship pointed out that their recognition of the consecration of Bishop Nevill was based on the assumption that Dr. Jenner was the first Bishop of Dunedin, and that, as there had been no interval between his own resignation of the bishopric of that diocese and the consecration of Bishop Nevill, the recognition of Bishop Jenner as having been "the first Bishop of Dunedin," was "not only irreconcileable with the facts of the case, but with all Church [352/353] order." It was tantamount to the intrusion of a bishop into another's see, and to the setting at nought of the right of a provincial Church to order its own affairs, and guard its own internal regulations from violation. The question whether Bishop Jenner's appointment ought to have been confirmed by the General Synod might be a matter of opinion, but to withhold its confirmation, if it thought good, was its unquestionable right. Moreover, to recognise Dr. Jenner as Bishop of Dunedin up to the time of his so-styled resignation was to impugn the consecration of Bishop Nevill as a schismatical act. [Footnote: The date of this "resignation" was June 16th, 1871. The necessity of such an emphatic protest on the part of the primate is shown, not only by the strong language used by Bishop Jenner himself, who, in his pamphlet entitled "The See of Dunedin, N.Z.," styles Bishop Nevill "the schismatical intruder into my as yet unvacated see," and spoke of his "most unhappy position," but also by statements which appeared in the Guardian and the Colonial Church Chronicle of the following description:--"The consecration of Mr. Nevill being performed without the Bishop of Dunedin's consent, in defiance of his authority and in disregard of his rights, was a distinctly schismatical proceeding; and Mr. Nevill was not placed in a see of his own, but intruded into that of another bishop."--Col. Ch. Chronicle, November, 1871.] In a word, by so doing, the English bishops had, as far as in them lay, "exercised an authority over the New Zealand Church, in the appointment of a bishop to one of its sees, which was certainly not given to them by that Church, nor ever sanctioned by the Catholic Church in her undivided state." His lordship, moreover, expressed his regret that they should [353/354] have arrived at such a serious decision without having previously communicated with the Church in New Zealand, and without having any independent person present at their deliberations to represent that Church, and explain the action it had taken. [Footnote: It is scarcely necessary to point out that the Bishop of Lichfield, who was present, was an interested party, having been throughout, as we have seen, an eager advocate of the claims of Dr. Jenner.] Before finally concluding his protest, the Primate was in a position to state, that he had obtained the concurrence in it of all the other bishops of New Zealand.

On the 2nd July, 1873, Bishop Jenner wrote to the Primate of New Zealand a reply to the foregoing letter, and sent a copy to every prelate of the Anglican Communion. This reply is partly founded on misconceptions, but is mainly an argumentum ad hominem, dwelling on certain apparent mistakes and inconsistencies, into which the Bishop of Christchurch had been beguiled by his love of peace and harmony, but not touching on the real point at issue, namely, the authority of the Church of the province of New Zealand to order its own affairs and appoint its own bishops. But in this reply, it should be mentioned, Bishop Jenner reiterated a demand, which he made over and over again, both before and afterwards, namely, that the whole dispute between himself and the New Zealand Church should be submitted to arbitration, promising to abide by the result. He had no intention at that time of reviving his claim to the actual possession of the see, but wished only to establish his right to be recognised as having been [354/355] "first Bishop of Dunedin." It scarcely needs to be pointed out, after what has been said, that the Church of New Zealand, according to her plain and straightforward view of the matter, could not allow this claim without compromising the truth. The proposal to refer the question to arbitration never came before the General Synod itself, but it has always been held, on its behalf, that it is preposterous to expect that the Supreme Legislature of a Provincial Church should ever consent to cast doubt on its own authority, and to submit the decision of a question appertaining to its own internal patronage and jurisdiction to the judgment of any external tribunal. In the same reply the bishop declares that "it will be necessary to re-open the whole question at the next Lambeth Conference." In what manner he proposed to re-open the question is stated by himself at a later date:--"At the Pan-Anglican Synod I intend (if I am spared) to claim to sit and vote and sign the 'Acta' as late Bishop of Dunedin. I shall announce this formally very early in the session. If my claim is unchallenged, I shall consider that my position is secure. Any challenge will of necessity lead to an investigation of the claim, which will suit me all the better, as conducing to a more definite settlement of the question." [Footnote: Letter to Henry Sewell, Esq., dated June 17th, 1875. When Archbishop Tait convened the second Lambeth Conference in 1878, the difficulty was happily evaded by the invitations to attend the Conference being confined exclusively to bishops charged with the actual superintendence of dioceses.]

To turn to another subject. In September, 1871, [355/356] New Zealand was startled and, for a moment, distressed beyond measure, at receiving the sudden tidings of the martyrdom of Bishop Patteson and his companions. The first distress was soon exchanged for thoughts of thankfulness and triumph. Many, who could look back in memory on that pale, thoughtful, suffering, patient face,--a face that seemed to speak the words, "I die daily,"--a face, notwithstanding, not seldom lit up with an inexpressibly sweet and winning smile,--when talking, for example, of his Melanesian scholars, and showing to a sympathising friend their Scripture note-books,--such could not but "rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory," when they thought of that fitting close of a devoted life, that saintly brow crowned with the aureole of martyrdom. It were needless for us to repeat the details of a story, so touchingly told by the benefactress of the Melanesian Mission, the authoress of the "Daisy Chain" (the proceeds of which she long since devoted to the Mission), as well as by other writers. It must be our business now to hasten on to the next triennial meeting of the General Synod, which now completed its first cycle by coming round again to Wellington, its first starting-place in 1859. The sixth General Synod was opened by the Most Rev. the Primate in the chamber of the Provincial Council, Wellington, on Ascension Day, the 14th May, 1874, after Divine Service, and celebration of the Holy Communion, in the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, when the sermon was preached by the Right Rev. the Bishop of Dunedin, who now took his seat in the Synod for the first time. Bishop [356/357] Williams, of Waiapu, was present for the last time; the bishops of Nelson, Auckland, and Wellington were also present. Twelve clergymen attended the session and fourteen laymen. Sir William Martin had recently left for England, where he spent the remainder of his days; but he left the Synod, as it were, a legacy, in the shape of a pamphlet entitled "Notes on Church Questions," to which reference was often made in the debates of the session. His place was in some measure supplied by the Hon. Henry Sewell, a learned and acute lawyer, who came from England, in 1853, to wind up the affairs of the Canterbury Association, and was afterwards a member of the Legislature, and Attorney-General for New Zealand. His influence on the counsels of this Synod was very marked, more especially in the discussions which took place, and the measures which were adopted, with reference to the alterations of the Formularies of the Church. And it is for the debates which occurred, and the action which was taken, on this subject that this session of the Synod is chiefly memorable. It will be remembered that, nine years earlier, in the Christchurch Synod of 1865, the wisdom of laying down anything whatever in the Church Constitution as absolutely unalterable, was strongly impugned. Important alterations, it was urged, in the relations of the Colonial Church to the Church and State in England had already taken place since the Constitution was agreed upon, and it was probable that other equally important changes would follow. And so it turned out; even while that Synod was sitting, such a change had actually taken place, [357/358] though tidings of it had not yet reached the colony: a change so important as to cause the bishops, immediately after the Synod separated, to resign their Letters Patent. The Westbury Judgment was, indeed, more than a change; it was a revolution. And the rising tide of change mocked yet more derisively at the puny attempt to set up immovable barriers, when the Church of Ireland was disestablished, and the "Branch of the United Church of England and Ireland," of the unalterable clauses, became a glaring misnomer and anachronism. Now, the problem which had long been assuming formidable dimensions, thrust itself at length before the minds of Churchmen at the Synod of 1874, and refused to be any longer ignored. It was intolerable that things should remain as they were--that a body, so young and vigorous, and free in spirit, should be shackled by traditions of such recent date, and that men, whom Church and State, and even Crown lawyers, were vying with one another to set at liberty, should consent to be hampered by a yoke of bondage of their own creation. Two courses were put before the Synod. To evade the stringency of the fundamental provisions of the Constitution by what seemed to many to be forced and non-natural interpretations--that was one course. The other was, that the General Synod, as the Supreme Legislature of the Church, having attained, as it were, to man's estate, should assert its authority, and cast off the leading-strings of its infancy. In the subsequent Synod of 1877, when these discussions were renewed, this argument was especially relied upon by those who [358/359] advocated the latter course--namely that, in the preamble to the revised Constitution of 1865, it is no longer said, as it was before, "the bishops, clergy, and laity in Conference assembled,"--but "the bishops, clergy, and laity in General Synod assembled,"--"do solemnly decl and establish as follows:" and in what "follows" is included the fundamental and (so-called) unalterable portion of the Constitution. But one General Synod has no power to bind another; what, therefore, the Synod of 1865 bound, the Synod of 1877, or any subsequent Synod, might loose; it may alter that which a body, of no greater power than itself, has declared to be "unalterable."

That these alternative courses were proposed and urged, is simple matter of history, and, in order to place the actual position clearly before the minds of our readers, we append in full Statute No. 19, "For Making certain Necessary Alterations in the Formal Organisation of the Church," as it was passed in that session, and as it stood on the Statute Book of the Church, until the re-casting of the statutes into the form of canons in 1883 happily involved the preambles of all statutes alike in a common extinction:--


Whereas the Church Constitution was framed upon the assumption that certain fundamental relations existed between the Church in the colony and the parent Church and State, and, in particular, upon the [359/360] assumption that the Queen's prerogative, as Supreme Governor of the Church, extended to the colony; and that the Church in the colony had a legal existence in the eye of the law, as an integral part of the United Church of England and Ireland; but it has since been established as well by decisions of courts of law in England, particularly by the judgment of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the case of the Bishop of Capetown and Bishop Colenso, as by Acts of State, particularly by the fact of the Crown refusing to nominate a bishop to a colonial see in any colony possessing a Representative Legislature, that such relations did not and do not now, in fact, exist:

And whereas, when the Church Constitution was framed, the Churches of England and Ireland were united by law under the Act of Union; and the Church in the colony was deemed to be an integral part or branch of such United Church; and is so designated in the Constitution; but such union has since been dissolved by Act of the Imperial Legislature, so that the United Church of England and Ireland no longer exists:

And whereas, by reason of such changes of circumstances, it is necessary that corresponding changes should be made in certain formal parts of the organisation of the Church in the colony, and in such parts of its formularies as relate thereto:

And whereas, having regard to the plain intention of the framers of the Constitution, as evidenced by its terms, to provide, in possible emergencies, for such necessary alterations as are hereby made; and having regard to the inherent right of the Church in [360/361] the colony, as declared by the 34th Article; and to the authority of the General Synod, as the Legislature thereof; it is competent to the Synod to make the proposed alterations, in accordance with the true spirit, meaning, and intention of the Constitution, and without infringing the fundamental terms and conditions thereof:

Be it therefore resolved by the bishops, clergy, and laity of the Church, which is in the Constitution designated as a branch of the United Church of England and Ireland, as follows:--

1. Those parts of the service for the consecration of bishops which relate to the Queen's Mandate shall be omitted and discontinued.

2. Those parts of the services for the consecration of bishops and for the ordering of priests and deacons which refer specially to the parent Church and State may be omitted and changed so as to adapt them to the circumstances of the colony.

3. The following explanatory words shall be appended to the 21st of the 39 Articles, viz.:--"It is not to be inferred from this article that the Church in the colony is hindered from meeting in council without the authority of the civil power."

4. The following explanatory words shall be appended to the 37th of the 39 Articles:--"It is not to be inferred from this Article that the civil power has authority in this colony to determine purely spiritual questions, or to hinder the Church in the colony from finally determining such questions by its own authority, or by tribunals constituted under its authority."

[362] 5. In future, in all cases in which it may be necessary to refer to the Church in the colony (which is in the Constitution designated as a branch of the United Church of England and Ireland), it shall be sufficient if it be referred to or designated as the Church of the Province of New Zealand, commonly called the Church of England.

The most practically-important clause of the foregoing statute is the last, which has reference to the designation of the Church in the colony. The changes in the Ordinal had been previously made in practice; the explanatory words attached to certain of the 39 Articles have hitherto attracted no attention; but the new designation, setting the Church free from the anomalous absurdity of being termed a "Branch of the United Church of England and Ireland in New Zealand," was welcomed at once and universally, has been since recognised in several Acts of the Colonial Parliament--has, in short, taken root and flourished.

A similar result of the endeavour to impose unalterable provisions upon the Supreme Legislature of the Church is exhibited in the preamble of the Statute (No. 21) "For Adopting a New Table of Lessons." The question whether the new Lectionary of the Church of England should be brought into use in New Zealand might naturally be supposed to be a very simple one, since the change had approved itself to the vast majority of people; but the adoption was prefaced by an elaborate and perplexed labyrinth of argument, intended to prove that the Church was at liberty to do that which it was determined to do. [362/363] The new Lectionary was adopted provisionally--until the end of the next session but one of the General Synod. Besides these two measures, a third, prefaced by a very similar preamble, was introduced by the Hon. H. Sewell on the last day of the session, and read a first time. It was entitled, "A Statute to limit and define the powers of the General Synod in reference to alterations of the services, formularies, and Articles of the Church, and the Authorised Version of the Holy Scriptures, and to settle the mode of procedure in reference thereto." The mover urged that the provisions of the Bill were of a decidedly conservative character, and calculated to restrain hasty legislation; but its very title, and the suggestion it contained of the possibility of changes of a formidable character, were sufficient to alarm many; and on the plea of the late period of the session--some of the members, including two of the bishops, having already left Wellington--an amendment was carried, on the motion being made for the second reading, to the effect that the Bill be printed and circulated, transmitted to the several bishops, and made known to the several Diocesan Synods, and that the Primate be requested to bring the matter before the General Synod at its next triennial session as early as possible, as its first business.

We must now pass on to other matters transacted by this Synod. I. Bishopric of Dunedin. With regard to this question, the Bishop of Waiapu, on the fourth day of the session, moved that "a statement be put on record of the grounds upon which the General Synod has acted in this matter, and that a [363/364] Select Committee be appointed to draw up such a statement. The preamble of the motion cited the resolution of the English prelates, assembled at Lambeth on February 5th, 1872, to the effect that they were prepared to recognise Bishop Nevill as the second Bishop of Dunedin, and urged the desirableness of any misapprehension on so grave a matter being removed. The motion was carried, and the committee elected by ballot. The report of this committee was very complete and exhaustive, and was ordered to be printed in the appendix to the Synod Report of the session; and the following resolution, based upon it, was moved by the Hon. H. Sewell, seconded by the Rev. R. Burrows, and carried without a division on the 1st June, 1874:--"That, it having been brought to the notice of this Synod, that the Archbishop of Canterbury, and certain bishops of England, have formally recognised Dr. Jenner as the first bishop of the see of Dunedin, apparently in disregard of the judgment of this Synod formally pronounced on Dr. Jenner's claims--this Synod, in exercise of its undoubted authority, having carefully examined the circumstances under which Dr. Jenner claims to be regarded as having been the first bishop of the see of Dunedin, declares that Dr. Jenner, not having been appointed to the see of Dunedin in accordance with the laws of the Church in New Zealand, ought not to be recognised as having been such first bishop; and this Synod doth recognise the Right Rev. Samuel Tarratt Nevill, D.D., as the present and first bishop of the see of Dunedin."

[365] As this is the final deliverance of the Church of New Zealand on this subject, we may here take leave of it, not without a feeling of relief, but, at the same time, with a sense of unfeigned and respectful sympathy, not diminished by the lapse of time, for one who, whatever mistakes may have been made afterwards, or by others, was originally placed in a false position through no fault of his own.

II. The Discipline Statutes.--These were once more carefully sifted and amended, and an important step was taken in eliminating the optional and provisional elements, which had hitherto formed part of them; it was no longer open to any diocese to decline to accept them, neither was any time fixed for their expiry.

III. Board of Theological Studies.--An extremely important measure--Statute (No. 17)--now Title E, Canon I.--"For the establishment of a Board of Theological Studies," was adopted in the course of this session, being based upon the Report of the Select Committee of the preceding session, "On the Supply and Training of Candidates for Holy Orders." Its main provisions were these:--1. The Board to consist of the Bishops of New Zealand, and three clergymen and three laymen, to be elected by the General Synod at its triennial meetings. The Primate to be chairman. 2. The Board may appoint a committee of not less than three of its members, to whom it may assign such duties as it may think fit. 3. In the case of a majority of members being unable to meet, any proposition approved by the Committee may be forwarded to each member, and, if not less [365/367] than two-thirds of the number forward to the Chairman their adhesion to such proposition, it shall have the validity of a regulation made by a meeting of the Board. 4. The Board shall have power to appoint duly-qualified persons as Examiners, in examinations arranged by the Board in the following subjects:--(1) Holy Scripture in the English and original languages. (2) Biblical Exegesis. (3) Evidences of Natural and Revealed Religion. (4) Dogmatic Theology. (5) Ecclesiastical History. (6) Moral Philosophy. (7) History and Meaning of the Formularies, and of the Law of the Church in New Zealand." 5. The examinations to be open to all persons, whether candidates for Holy Orders or not, under such regulations as the Board may appoint. 6. The Board, through its Chairman, may grant certificates of proficiency. 7. The Board may receive contributions for Prizes, Scholarships, or Lectureships, and may charge fees for the expenses of examinations.

We must be pardoned for adding, that the Church of New Zealand owes a deep debt of gratitude to his Lordship the Bishop of Nelson, for having originated this statute in the Synod, and, still more, for having, with indefatigable zeal and perseverance, and, at an immense sacrifice of time and trouble, superintended the carrying out of its provisions for nearly fourteen years past. He has been both the founder of this admirable institution, and the life and soul of its working.

IV. St. John's College, Auckland--A Statute (No. 18)--now Title E, Canon II.--was passed by the Synod, "To make provision for the government of [366/367] St. John's College, Auckland," the benefits of the College having been thrown open by its generous founder, Bishop Selwyn, to the whole Ecclesiastical Province, and the General Synod being responsible for its government. By this statute the government of the College, and of all schools and institutions connected therewith, was vested in a body of Governors, with a Visitor. The Governors were to be the Bishop of the diocese ex officio, and six others to be named respectively by the six other bishops, including the Bishop of Melanesia. The Bishop of the diocese to be the President, and the Primate the Visitor.

V. The Melanesian Bishopric.--The President, in his opening Address, reminded the Synod that it was their duty at that session to appoint a successor to the lamented Bishop of Melanesia, and announced that the members of the Mission, in accordance with the provisions of Statute II--now Title A, Canon I. Sec. 3--had recommended for the office the Rev. John Richardson Selwyn, the second son of the late Bishop of New Zealand. On the 9th day of the session the Bishop of Auckland moved that "The Synod do proceed to confirm the recommendation." There was but one opinion in the Synod as to Mr. Selwyn being the right man for the post; but, having regard to the state of his health at that time, and his comparative youth and inexperience,--it being uncertain even whether he had attained the canonical age of thirty,--it was thought better to postpone the appointment. Mr. Selwyn himself was reported on good authority to have said, when the subject was [367/368] mentioned to him, "It will be quite time enough five years hence to talk about that." The following resolution was accordingly adopted:--"That, whilst the Synod recognises the spirit of devotion to the service of the Church with which the Rev. John Richardson Selwyn has devoted himself to the work of the Melanesian Mission, yet, under all the circumstances of the case, and especially regarding the information which has been laid before the Synod by the Primate, that the recommendation has been made by the members of the Melanesian Mission at the present time, under the impression that they would lose their right of recommendation if it were not exercised at once, this Synod is of opinion that it will he expedient to defer for a time the appointment of a successor to Bishop Patteson." The Rev. R. H. Codrington, it was understood, would, in the mean time, continue to superintend generally the conduct of the Mission, the Bishop of Auckland having been requested by the Synod, and having undertaken to perform any episcopal functions which might be necessary in connexion with the Mission. Before the close of the session, the Primate read to the Synod a letter he had written to the Mission Staff, which, it is needless to say, was warmly approved by all present.

VI. It will not be out of place to mention that a report of much interest and value on "The Supply of Clergy" was made by a Select Committee in the course of the session. It was ordered to be printed in the Appendix, and became the basis of action taken at subsequent Synods.

[369] The sixth General Synod, having sat for seventeen days, broke up on the 5th of June, the members having joined in repeating the Gloria in Excelsis, and the President having pronounced the Benediction.

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