IN order to make the Manx Ecclesiastical Constitutions complete, those of Bishop Wilson are here given, as printed in his Life by the Rev. C. Cruttwell, Bath, 1797. Vol. i. pp. 62-72.
At a Convocation of the Clergy at Bishop's-Court, the 3d day of February 1703. In the name of our great Lord and Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, and to the glory and increase of his kingdom amongst men;
We, the Bishop, Archdeacon, Vicars-General, and Clergy, of this Isle, who do subscribe these articles,-that we may not stand charged with the scandals which wicked men bring upon religion, while they are admitted to, and reputed members of, Christ's Church; and that we may by all laudable means promote the conversion of sinners, and oblige men to submit to the discipline of the Gospel; and lastly, that we may provide for the instruction of the growing age in Christian learning and good manners;-have formed these following Constitutions, which we oblige ourselves (by God's help) to observe; and to endeavour that all others within our several cures shall comply with the same.
1. That when a Rector, Vicar, or Curate, shall have any number of persons under twenty, of his parish, desirous and fit to be confirmed, he shall give the Lord Bishop notice thereof, and a list of their names, and shall suffer none to offer themselves to be confirmed, but such as he has before instructed to answer in the necessary parts of Christian knowledge; and who, besides their Church Catechism, have learned such short prayers for morning and evening, as shall be immediately provided for that purpose.
2. That no person be admitted to the holy Sacrament, till he has been first confirmed by the Bishop; or (in case of his Lordship's absence or indisposition) to bring a certificate from the Archdeacon, or Vicars-General, that he is duly qualified for confirmation.
3. That no person be admitted to stand as Godfather or Godmother, or to enter into the holy state of Matrimony, till they have received the holy Sacrament of the Lord's Supper; unless, being an orphan, there be a necessity for his speedy marriage; and this to be approved of, and dispensed with, by the Ordinary for a limited time, and to fit himself for the Sacrament: And, where any of them are of another parish, they are to bring a certificate from their proper pastor.
4. That all children and servants unconfirmed, of such a division of the parish as the Minister shall appoint (which shall be at least one-fourth part thereof), shall constantly come to evening prayers, to be instructed in the principles of the Christian Religion; at which time, every Rector, Vicar, or Curate, shall employ at least half an hour in their examination, and explaining some part of the Church Catechism. And that all parents and masters who shall be observed by their children's and servant's ignorance to be grossly wanting in their duty, in not teaching them this Catechism, shall be presented for every such neglect, and severely punished. And, to the end that this so necessary an institution may be religiously observed, every Minister shall always (by the assistance of the Churchwardens) keep a catalogue of such persons as are not confirmed, and is hereby required to present those that are absent without urgent cause, who shall be fined two-pence the first Sunday they omit to come, four-pence the second, and six-pence the third; in which case the parents are to be answerable for their children, and masters for their servants, unless where it appears that the servants themselves are in the fault.
5. For the more effectual discouragement of vice, if any person shall incur the censures of the Church, and, having done penance, shall afterwards incur the same censures, he shall not be admitted to do penance again (as has been formerly accustomed) until the Church be fully satisfied of his sincere repentance; during which time he shall not presume to come within the church, but be obliged to stand in a decent manner at the church door every Sunday and Holiday the whole time of morning and evening service, until by his penitent behaviour, and other instances of sober living, he deserve and procure a certificate from the minister, churchwardens, and some of the soberest men of the parish, to the satisfaction of the Ordinary; which if he do not so deserve and procure within three months, the Church shall proceed to excommunication. And that during these proceedings, the Governor shall be applied to not to permit him to leave the island.
And this being a matter of very great importance, the minister and churchwardens shall see it duly performed, under penalty of the severest ecclesiastical censures.
And whenever any daring offender shall be and continue so obstinate as to incur excommunication, the pastor shall affectionately exhort his parishioners not to converse with him, upon peril of being partaker with him in his sin and punishment.
6. That the Rubrick before the Communion, concerning unworthy receivers thereof, may be religiously observed, every rector, vicar, or curate, shall first privately, and then publickly, admonish such persons as he shall observe to be disorderly livers; that such as will not by this means be reclaimed may be hindered from coming to the Lord's Table, and being presented, may be excommunicated.
And if any Minister knowingly admit such persons to the Holy Sacrament, whose lives are blemished with the vices of drunkenness, tippling, swearing, profaning the Lord's Day, quarrelling, fornication, or any other crime by which the Christian Religion is dishonoured, before such persons have publickly acknowledged their faults, and solemnly promised amendment, the ministers so offending shall be liable to severe ecclesiastical censures.
7. If any moar, serjeant, proctor, or any other person, shall presume on the Lord's day to receive any rent or sums of money, both he and the person paying such rent or sums of money shall be liable to ecclesiastical censure, and shall always be presented for the same.
8. That the practice of Commutation as has been formerly accustomed, namely, of exempting persons obnoxious to the censures of the Church from penance and other punishment appointed by law, on account of paying a sum of money, or doing some charitable work, shall for the future cease.
9. For the promotion of religion, learning, and good manners, all persons shall be obliged to send their children, as soon as they are capable of receiving instruction, to some petty school, and to continue them there until the said children can read English distinctly; unless the parents give a just cause to excuse themselves, approved of by the ordinary in open court: And that such persons who shall neglect sending their children to be so taught shall (upon a presentment made thereof by the minister, churchwardens, or chapter-quest) be fined one shilling per quarter to the use of the schoolmaster; who may refuse to teach those children who do not come constantly to school (unless for such causes as shall be approved of by the minister of the parish), and their parents shall be fined as if they did altogether refuse to send them to school.
And for the further encouragement of the schoolmasters, they shall respectively receive, over and above the salaries already allowed them, six-pence quarterly from the parents of every child that shall be taught by them to read English, and nine-pence quarterly from such as shall be taught to write; which sums being refused, the sumner shall be ordered to require punctual payment within fourteen days; and upon default thereof, they are to be committed till they submit to law. Notwithstanding, where the parents or relations are poor, and not able to pay as aforesaid, and this be certified by the minister and churchwardens of the parish to the ordinary, such children are to be taught gratis.
And whereas some of the poorer sort may have just cause, and their necessities require it, to keep their children at home for several weeks in the summer and harvest, such persons shall not be liable to the penalties aforesaid, provided they do (and are hereby strictly required to) send such children, during such absence from school, every third Sunday to the parish church, at least one hour before evening service, there to be taught by the schoolmaster, to prevent losing their learning: And if any schoolmaster shall neglect his duty, and complaint be made and proved, he shall.be discharged, and another placed in his stead, at the discretion of the ordinary: And every rector, vicar, or curate, shall the first week of every quarter visit the petty school, and take an account in a book of the improvement of every child, to be produced as often as the ordinary shall call for it.
10. For the more effectual suppression of vice, etc., the minister and churchwardens, and chapter-quest, shall, the last Sunday of every month, after evening prayers, set down in writing the names of all such persons as without just cause absent themselves from church; of parents, masters, and mistresses, who neglect to send their children and servants to be catechised; of parents and guardians, who send not their children to school; and all other matters they are bound by their oaths to present. And, that they may conscientiously discharge their duty, the Articles of Visitation are to be read to them at every such meeting: And this to be done under pain of the severest ecclesiastical censures.
Now; forasmuch as some of the orders and constitutions in this Synod agreed unto, are such as do require the authority of the civil power to make them effectual to the ends they are designed; the bishop and archdeacon are earnestly desired to procure confirmation from the lord, his council, and the twenty-four keys, to the glory of God, and welfare of this church.
And for the better government of the Church of Christ, for the making of such orders and constitutions as shall from time to time be found wanting; and that better enquiry may be made into the execution of those that are in force; there shall be (God willing), a convocation of the whole clergy of the diocese, on Thursday in Whitsun-week every year after this, at the Bishop's chapel, if his lordship be within this isle, or as soon as conveniently after his return.
And that by these Constitutions we may more effectually oblige ourselves and others, we do each of us subscribe our names, this 3d day of February 1703.
THOMAS SODOR AND MAN.
Sam. Watleworth, archdeacon
Robert Parr, vicar-general
John Curghey, vicar-general
At a Court of Tinwald, holden at St. John's Chapel, the 4th day of Feb. 1703-4,
The before Constitutions being this day offered by the lord bishop and archdeacon of this isle, unto us, the governor, officers, and twenty-four keys, for our approbation, and having perused the same, we do find them very reasonable, just, and necessary; and do therefore approve of and consent to them, as far as concerns the civil power.
Rob. Mawdesley, governor
Chris. Parker, receiver-general
J. Rowe, comptroller
Will. Ross, Jo Bridson water-bailiffs
John Parr, Dan M'ylrea demsters
I am well pleased with the before Constitutions, and do confirm the same, and require that they be published at the next Tinwald-court in the usual manner. DERBY.
Published accordingly at the Tinwald-court, the 6th of June 1704.
April 3, 1723.
This is a true transcript of the copy of the Constitutions under Mr. Sedden's hand now upon record. J. Woods, Reg. Episc.
This compared with the said copy upon record.
The Manx Church has always had its own peculiar and independent Canon law, and has been governed by it. With respect to these last drawn up by Bishop Wilson, they are binding both upon clergy and laity, and are the Statute law of the island, having been passed in the insular Convocation of the Clergy and in the House of Keys, confirmed by the Earl of Derby as lord of the isle, and published accordingly at the Tynwald Hill, June 6th, 1704.*
* Lord Chancellor King was so much pleased with these Constitutions, that he said, " If the antient discipline of the Church were lost, it might be found in all its purity in the Isle of Man."