Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

of the admitted candidates for orders, while in zeal for God's service, and in aptitude for the work of an evangelist, they surpass very many, find that if they wish to teach any but the young, our church rejects their services. They would, it is true, be perfectly willing to spend a probation time in teaching the lambs, but they have a very strong desire-and more than a desire they have a feeling that it is their duty, to spend their lives in making known the glad tidings of salvation to all men. But whatever probationary time they may be willing to serve in the humbler office of teacher of the young, there is no hope held out to them of ever gaining admission amongst the ordained teachers of the old. What is the consequence ?~These young men leave our church, and are welcomed by the dissenter with open arms. It is within my own experience, that a young man has said,—“I feel the truth of all the doctrines of the Church of England, I should wish to remain in her communion ; but I am anxious to spend my life in making known these truths to men and I believe it is the will of God that I should do so : the Church of England will not give me a ray of hope that she will ever permit me to do so: she will allow me to teach the young, but she will never consent to my teaching others. I therefore intend to join the Wesleyans."

But it is better, it may be said, to lose these zealous young men than to have persons of such vulgar taste as preachers in our pulpits. Now, not to dwell upon the point, that an ordained minister need not be a person licensed to preach, let us take the difficulty in the form in which it is brought forward. The sermons, it is objected, and the whole style of the ministry of those ordained from the lower ranks will be in bad taste. Now I can enter into the feelings of those who object to a ribbon, or a cap, or a dress, on account of its vulgarity—I have sympathy with those who consider taste is essential to all the pleasure we derive from the works of art ; but, Sir, to speak of taste when we are warning men to flee from the wrath to come, to dwell upon taste when we are telling of heaven and hell, of God and Christ-I scorn the trifling; it is too much akin to the newspaper phraseology of performing divine service, as if the worship of Almighty God were some play or opera. Let such objectors beware, lest while they are so anxious to have good taste in their pulpits, they have not cold hearts and empty benches in their churches. We want preachers who will speak from the fulness of their own hearts to the hearts of others, solemnly, seriously, earnestly; some who will preach to the educated in the language of the educated, others who will speak to the uneducated in language which they not only can understand, but which will awaken their more sluggish feelings. Many of our bishops have again and again urged upon their clergy to make the language of their sermons more simple, and to endeavour so to preach that the most uneducated may comprehend them, selecting those words and phrases which are in common use among the lower classes ; but would they not obtain the end at which they so properly aim far more easily by ordaining men, who naturally speak the language of the lower classes, than by endeavouring to lead men, who do not naturally employ that language, to learn to adopt it?

But we want a learned clergy, it is said by others with very great force, for without a learned clergy our church will be in continual danger of falling into heresy. I most freely grant, that without learning in the clergy there will never be stability of doctrine in the Church; at the same time it by no means follows, as a consequence, that all our clergy should be learned. Besides, most of the bishops do not only require learning, they require a money qualification also in a candidate for orders; for they require that he should have obtained his learning in particular places, and make an university degree necessary for ordination. If they simply required a certain standard of learning and aptitude for the office of deacon, why should they not judge of these points in their own examination of the candidates ? but they require a certificate of their learning having satisfied other examiners at Oxford and Cambridge.—I speak of the general practice. Now, it would be derogatory to their lordships to suppose that they have any need of the help of the universities to enable them to discover the extent of any person's learning; they are perfectly able to ascertain this for themselves ;--the requiring, therefore, an university degree in a candidate for ordination is not requiring a certain standard of learning, it is requiring the candidate to have possessed sufficient property to have acquired the learning in a certain place, and to take a degree; it is, in fact, introducing a money qualification as essential to ordination. A boy must be placed at school at nine years of age to fit him for Oxford or Cambridge; let the expense of his maintenance, clothes, and instruction be a hundred a year; he must remain at school till nineteen : here, then, without reckoning the accumulation of interest, is a sum of a thousand pounds to be spent in preparing him for the university. The boy goes to Oxford or Cambridge ; say that during the four years that he is there previous to his ordination his expenses amount to eight hundred pounds, and we have then, without considering the accumulation of interest, a money qualification of at least eighteen hundred pounds requisite in every candidate for orders. It would I think be easy to shew that the clergy of the Church of England do not on an average obtain more than five per cent on the capital sunk in their education, or in other words that they are receiving no pecuniary recompense whatever for their time and services. The present standard of the examination for orders might be preserved, and yet no such money qualification as is now demanded be required; for I believe it will be owned, even by those who are the warmest supporters of our universities,-to none of whom will I for one moment yield in feelings of respect and gratitude towards our Almæ Matres, for I am conscious of the benefit, and well remember the many happy hours which the groves of Isis have given me that many a man might thoroughly prepare himself for the usual examination of a bishop at considerably less than half the expense which is necessarily required in securing a degree.

But though I think the same standard of learning might be preserved amongst the clergy, and yet such a high money qualification might not be required, yet I see not why all ordained ministers should be learned men. In many a country parish and populous town district men of the same level in education as dissenting ministers might be under God as useful, and, I believe, more so than the present rank of

clergy. There might, if it were found expedient, be clergy of the present rank in every parish to guide the ministry of those whom I wish to see ordained to help them ; but of this I am persuaded, that an abundance of work might everywhere be found suited to a class of clergy of humbler rank and inferior education, and that we greatly require the aid of such a class of clergy not only on account of the insufficiency of our present numbers, but because we are not as fitted as they would be to influence the middle and lower classes in the social circle and around the firesides of their cottages and homes. How many a parochial clergyman, now worn down with his work, would rejoice to have some humble assistant in his parish, who could aid him in the church in the reading of prayers, in occasional preaching during his absence from home, in the celebration of the sacraments, in burying the dead, visiting the sick, and superintending the schools.

Those who are acquainted with scattered country parishes, where the hamlet of thirty or forty houses has risen up at many miles distance from the parish church, well know how desirable it would be to have in each of these hamlets the little chapel or oratory, where those who are too feeble and infirm to reach their parish church might worship the God of their fathers, and hold fast that form of sound words which our church has delivered to them. Such oratories the traveller sees scattered here and there through the vallies of Switzerland; and in such small chapels he may see the Italian peasants offering their morning prayers, before they start for their daily work. Many of our parochial clergy have the means, through the liberality of their people, of raising such oratories in the distant hamlets of their parishes ; but with two or more whole services in the mother church, they have neither the time nor the strength to undertake any additional service; and though they could raise the funds for building the small chapels, they are perfectly unable to endow them so that a salary of from £80 to £100 a year might be provided for the support of a regular minister for each ; and if they could, the small hamlet would not give the sufficient em. ployment. What is the consequence? the Wesleyan, or the Baptist, or the Independent, or some other dissenter, comes and builds his chapel, and sends over a minister from some neighbouring town on the Sunday, and the inhabitants with their children forsake the communion of our church ; or if not, there they grow up as heathens, without ever joining in the public worship of Almighty God-a consequence still more to be deplored. As long as the dissenters can provide for the regular celebration of Divine Worship at a less expense than the members of our church, they have an unfair and very dangerous advantage over us. Is not also the want of some brother clergyman to aid in the administration of the Lord's Supper to the increasing numbers of our communicants, a frequent though not acknowledged cause why that Sacrament is so seldom administered in many parishes, though the poor broken down incumbent may conceal the fact even from himself ? He feels that, as it is, he has more than his strength is equal to perform, and he is therefore very naturally reluctant to increase the length of the weekly service : he could not do it. If we are to have weekly administrations of the Lord's Supper, we must have help given to us.

It may be further objected, that the Church of England has wisely forbidden even the deacons to follow any secular occupation, and that we should lose so much, not only in learning, but also in spirituality of mind in the clergy, if we allowed the Christian minister to entangle himself with the affairs of this life, that whatever other advantages might be gained, as we see is the case in the Moravian missions, it would by no means be wise to do so. It follows of course, that if the clergy are to depend entirely for their support on their private fortunes, or the incomes derived from their profession, which we have shown to be nothing, they must be chosen from the higher classes, and an income of at least £100 a year must be provided for them; and thus there is an end at once with the whole proposal for the ordination of persons of the lower ranks. But, Sir, supposing there are in our church a class of men who have an occupation, which if it be not strictly spiritual certainly is not secular; an honourable and most useful occupation, closely connected with our profession; which, so far from entangling them with the affairs of this life, has a direct tendency to lead their thoughts to higher and better objects. If there are in our church a class of men of lower rank to our present clergy, accustomed to a less expenditure, and in the habit of associating from earliest childhood as friends and companions with middle and lower ranks of society, and always consi. dered by these ranks as having the same class interests with themselves : if this class, speaking of them as a body, be men anxious to devote their lives to the glory of God, and who have with this object often chosen the profession in which they are, at a great worldly sacrifice to themselves; if this class be well instructed in the Scriptures, attached to our church, and of greater intelligence and better education than the masses round them; have we not the exact persons whom we want to send forth through the length and breadth of the land as the ordained ministers of our church? And do not our schoolmasters exactly correspond with the description which I have given ? I will not prolong this letter by any attempt to show how the promise of future ordination would lead many to undertake the office of schoolmaster, who are in every way most fitted for it, nor will I endeavour to point out how it would cheer many of those most deserving and hard working young men, who are devoting all their energies to the schools of our church, if the hope were held out to them of increased and more honoured means of usefulness. Much, Sir, might be said on these points, and at another time I may endeavour to draw your attention again to the subject; but at the present I will confine myself to what I have already urged.

There are signs on the world's horizon not to be mistaken, that a day is coming of more democratic feeling and greater equality of ranks. Much as I love those days in which the lower classes looked up with honour and respect and affection to those above them-much as I would strive, if I could, to call them back again, for they were quieter and happier days; yet I cannot conceal from myself that those days are everywhere passing away, even in Austria herself—and nowhere more rapidly passing away than in this country. The lower classes seem every day to have less respect for the opinions of those above them ;

they are becoming every day more independent in their feelings, looking more to the opinions of their own class, and caring less for those of others. Shall we endeavour to stem the current? Shall we say to the masses,We will never admit any of your friends or associates into our ordained ministry? Let us beware in time lest the current be too strong for us, and we and our church be swept away before it. Let us beware, lest while we attempt to please the fastidious taste of our higher ranks, the feelings of the masses be alienated from us, and the souls of thousands perish for lack of knowledge of the Saviour's name. Let us throw out our anchors strong and firm into the feelings of the people— let them love our ministry, because their fathers and their sons and their brothers are in it-let their affection cling to it, because it is their own ministry, and not that of a higher class. We can, it is true, claim respect on far higher, because divine, grounds—but in these days we must give up no vantage-ground to the Papist or the Dissenter. I am perfectly aware that many a man may be an excellent schoolmaster, who would not be a good clergyman-there is need therefore of caution, and that none should be ordained but Christians, men of prudence, humility, knowledge of the Scripture, and experience in spiritual life. Some of the bishops have in one or two instances ordained schoolmasters; but I scarcely need remark that this has not been any trial of the plan I propose. If one or two only of a lower rank be ordained in any diocese, they immediately try to raise themselves to the general rank of that profession into which they are admitted; they do not form themselves into a separate class. Instead of mixing with their former associates, amongst whom they are especially calculated to be useful, they feel such intercourse below their newly acquired dignity. It is not till some hundreds of schoolmasters have been ordained, and a lower rank of clergy has thus been formed within our church, that the plan I propose can be proved by experience.

Your's very faithfully, Aug. 1843.

PRESBYTER OXONIENSIS.

MORE WORDS IN DEFENCE OF EMULATION,
AS A MEANS OF EXCITING DILIGENCE IN STUDY.
“Non ego hoc ferrem calida juventa

Consule Planco."--HOR. Such, Sir, was my involuntary exclamation, when I found, on opening your last number, that a new assailant had entered the field : but remembering that the object of every one who writes for the public, is or ought to be, the dissemination of right principles, rather than the maintenance of his own particular views; believing, too, in the correctness of the old aphorism, “ Magna est veritas, et prævalebit,”-that it will lose nothing by fair and free inquiry,except, indeed, from men of Pontius Pilate's school, who ask, “what is truth?” but will not wait for an answer ;-entertaining such sentiments, it was not without a

« ElőzőTovább »