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family. The question is, what is to be done in these cases? How shall the minister reside, who has no house, and can hire no house in his parish? The law does not bind to impossibilities; and therefore my Lord Coke, in the sixth Report, Butler and Goodal's case, says that the want of a house is an excuse for non-residence; for impotentia excusat legem.

Whether this opinion be law, and how far the reason of it will go,

shall be considered presently.

Originally, as is well known, the bishop and his clergy lived together, and had one common maintenance arising from the oblations of the people, which were distributed by the bishop, or those appointed by him, according to the rules laid down in the ancient canons: and in what part of the diocese soever a presbyter was by order of his bishop, he was, properly speaking, resident on his cure; for residence then was relative to the whole diocese, as it is now to particular parishes, since the state of church discipline has in this respect been altered by the division of a diocese into parishes : and therefore the ancient canons, which forbid the clergy to move from church to church without consent of the bishop, mean no more than that a clergyman should not forsake the bishop and the diocese where he received ordination : and the word parish, in old canons, is used to signify a diocese, as appears by the injunctions given to bishops not to invade the parishes of each other.

You will observe from this account that the relation which the clergy had to their bishop, and to the people recommended to their care, did not depend on their having houses among the people to whom they were to preach. They went from the mother church to the distant parts of the diocese to discharge their duty, and provided conveniences for themselves for the time they stayed, as other travellers might do: and should all the glebe houses in a diocese happen to be destroyed, the duty of the clergy would surely be the same that it was before any such houses were erected.

Let us consider then, in the next place, how this case stood on the division of the dioceses into parishes.

As Christianity spread and believers multiplied, the old method was found very inconvenient; and therefore great en

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couragement was given to all lords of manors, and other great people, to erect churches for themselves and tenants on their own lands; and for this purpose the bishop yielded part of his right to such founders, permitting them to name a person to serve the living, provided he was well qualified, the judgment of which the bishop reserved to himself; and this was the origin of lay patronages. But as it was highly convenient, and for the due performance of the parochial duty necessary, that a fixed curate should have a fixed habitation, it was made a condition of such foundations, that a manse and glebe should be provided for the curate, that is, a house and a proper portion of glebe land for the better support of himself and family, over and above the tithes and oblations : and it appears both in the laws of the church and empire, that a parochial church could not be erected, at least not consecrated, till this provision was made.

Now this change in the outward face of the diocese was necessarily followed by a change of discipline. The clergy hereby contracted a nearer relation to the inhabitants of their several parishes, and in great measure lost that general relation which they had to the people of the whole diocese : and the bishop had a right to exact from the parochial clergy a strict residence, and a constant performance of duty in their several parishes; but he had no longer a right to require their service in any

of the diocese. There is another very material thing to be observed on this case; for this change introduced also into the law of the church a new notion of residence, which we must particularly attend to in order to clear the present question; I mean the legal potion of residence, which implies living and abiding, not only in the parish, but in the very glebe house itself: so that by the law at this day a man may live constantly in his parish, and yet be liable to many penalties of non-residence, if he does not live in the very glebe house. I call this the legal notion of residence; for without all doubt, in the reason of the thing, the living in one house within the parish is as much residence as living in another, and may as well answer all the purposes of religion and ecclesiastical discipline. But this legal residence stands on a reason of its own, and a very good one it is : for as the laws of the church and state made it


other part


the founders of churches to provide houses for the ministers, so it was but equitable to make it necessary for the ministers to maintain the houses in constant repair; and the surest way to effect it was to oblige them to live in their own houses, and not leave them at liberty to hire convenient babitations for themselves, and to let out the glebe houses to poor indigent tenants, which could end in nothing but suffering the buildings to run to decay and ruin: and for this reason the Court of King's Bench, 40 Elizabeth, determined that the residence required by the statute of 21 Hen. VIII. was a residence in the parsonage house ;* “ for the statute requires residence not only for serving the cure and for hospitality, but also for maintaining the houses, for the habitation not only of the present incumbent, but of his successors also ;” which is the reason given by the court. And therefore when my Lord Coke says that the want of a house excuses residence, he means only this legal residence: and so far it is certain, that if a person has not a glebe house, he cannot live in one. He can consistently mean nothing else; and if he does, his opinion is not an authority in this case : for the want of a house will not discharge the obligations which the minister of every parish has voluntarily undertaken, and which must require residence in the natural and proper sense of the word.

You see then from this account that there are two kinds of residence, one implied in the very nature of the office, another introduced by positive law. There wants no law to declare or to enjoin the necessity of residence in the case of a minister of a parish, in the first sense, any more than there wants a law to declare that a pilot should attend the ship: the very nature of the office is a law in both cases, and carries with it the highest obligation. This residence, before the division of dioceses into parishes, had relation to the whole diocese, and was limited to one part or another by special direction from the bishop; so that a clergyman was in those days obliged to perform the function of his office in such part of the diocese, and for such time, as the bishop thought proper.

Consider then how the case stands now with respect to those


Butler and Goodal's case,


who have no glebe houses. They are certainly appointed by the bishop to take care of their particular parishes, and are in this respect under the same obligation to residence that the clergy anciently were before the division of parishes; with this only difference, that formerly the clergy were moveable from one part of the diocese to another, whereas now they are fixed to one parish, and cannot be removed without their own consent: but this made no difference in the obligation. Besides, every clergyman who is instituted to a parish cure, does voluntarily undertake the office, and binds himself to perform it : the want of a convenient habitation may be a reason to refuse the living; but the inconvenience which they willingly submitted to when they took the living, can never be pleaded afterwards as a just excuse for neglect of the duty which they willingly undertook at the same time. Where there is no glebe house, the legal residence is dispensed with; and where it really happens to be the case that no house or lodging can be conveniently had within the parish, for the same reason residence within the limits of the parish is dispensed with also : but still the general obligation to a personal discharge of the parochial duty remains; and the bishop has a right, in all ordinary cases, to require from every incumbent that he performs the duty accordingly. How near he shall live to his

. parish cannot perhaps be determined by the ordinary, but must be left to the conveniences which the country affords, and the good conscience of the incumbent. And whoever considers the office he has undertaken, will find that good conscience obliges him to place himself as conveniently as he can for the benefit of his people: and he who does so under these circumstances, is to be reputed a resident minister. the gloss on Cardinal Otho's Constitution (de Institutione Vicariorum) has determined : there it is said, “ that if a vicar, who is bound by oath to residence, happens to have no house, yet he shall be reputed as resident, if he be so nigh situate to the parish, that the inhabitants thereof may conveniently have access to him as oft as the parishioners have need of his ministry, and so as on all requisitions he be ready to administer the sacraments within the parish."

As to the other case, where there are glebes and houses, but

And so


the houses in a very mean condition, it differs very

much from that already mentioned ; for here the reason of the law, which requires strict residence, must be considered. The main thing aimed at by the law is the maintaining the houses in good repair; and if there are at present many mean glebe houses, I am afraid it has been chiefly owing to the neglect of this law. Had the clergy been always obliged to live in their own houses, they would at least have been duly repaired, and probably long before this much improved, and rendered convenient habitations. We see in places where this law has been observed, many houses improving daily by additional conveniences to them from time to time; but we must never expect to see any thing like this where the glebe houses are deserted by the incumbents, and let to poor miserable tenants.

But it is in vain to look back and to reflect what might have been done to prevent this mischief, which is now but too sensibly felt by many. It is of more consequence to consider what may be reasonably attempted towards retrieving this evil.

In strictness of law, wherever there is a glebe house, the incumbent is obliged to live in it; the law has no respect to the goodness or badness of the house : but in the condition things now are, it would be thought hard to drive a minister and his family to live in a wretched cottage, or to put him under the necessity of building a new house, to the ruin or impoverishment of himself and family. What then can be done ? Ought the ordinary to suffer things to go on in the present course from bad to worse? Ought the clergy to desire it? What reason can any man give now to excuse himself from being put to charge in repairing his glebe house that will not be as strong or stronger in the mouth of his successor ? The house perhaps has been long neglected, and you think it hard the expense should fall on you; but if you continue in the neglect, would not the case be still harder with those that come after you ? So that the only question is, whether the present bad state of those houses ought to be a reason why the ordinary should let them fall quite. If not, there seems to be no other equitable means left to remedy the present evil but that prescribed by the injunctions of Edward VI. 1547, and by those of Queen Elizabeth 1559, to set aside a part of the revenue yearly for the re

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