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as are in any city of Europe, and is not paralleled in any city of the world beside itself, yea, little inferior to a whole kingdom.” Of the clergy he says, “They are a set of the most eminent divines in Britain, and perhaps in the world besides ;” and as to the charities of London, he quotes the words of Dr. Stillingfleet, who said “that this city equals the whole kingdom besides in these things."
The ecclesiastical historian, John Strype, M.A. in his continuation of Stow's Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster, says, Book V. Chapter 3, “I may subjoin here the great advantages those that live in the city have for their public devotions. For there be set up in the churches the use of public prayers, said, not only every day, but almost every hour of the day, at one church or other. That so if a man's occupations do obstruct his going to church to pay Almighty God his devotions at one hour, he may at his greater leisure do it at another. Lectures are likewise performed by learned and excellent preachers every day in the week, at one church or other; some in the morning, and some in the afternoon or evening, for the comfort and edification of all that will please to resort thither. And especially in Lent be sermons preached Wednesdays and Fridays in four churches in London and Westminster. Such helps there be now in the city to religion and a good life.”
Another clerical testimony may be quoted to show the feeling of the people towards the church at the same period : “The church with its priesthood was never more generally beloved, its worship never more frequented, its altars never more crowded, than at this day. And no wonder : for to all the middle ranks of mankind it is the chief delight, and to the poorer sort it is the only comfort they have in this world: the only refreshment they have after their weekly labours is to behold the fair beauty of the Lord, and to visit in his temple.' "*
Reposing on the truth of such soothing statements as these, the church slumbered and slept for well nigh a century, during which period methodism arose, nonconformity increased, infidelity was spread abroad, and the population of the metropolis advanced from 700,000 to 1,000,000 sonls; the clergy, however, were only aroused from
their slumbers by the ruinous crash of the revolutionary tempest, which laid the Church of France in the dust.
The superior classes, affrighted by the catastrophe of that establishment, united with the clergy for a season in observing the externals of religion, but when the strong hand of Mr. Pitt's government had put down those combinations amongst the people which sought reform, but might have ended in revolution, too many of both classes relapsed again into their former security and indifference.
The amiable Bishop Porteus, in his charge to his clergy, 1799, lamented this change in the following terms:-“ Some degree of moderation in pleasure and amusement, both private and public, some serious sentiments in religion and devotion, began evidently to prevail, in the spring of 1798. But this fair prospect (with grief it must be confessed,) has been miserably overcast in the course of the present year, in which the spirit of dissipation, luxury, and profusion seems to have returned with redoubled violence: and not only have gaieties, diversions, and entertainments of every kind multiplied beyond example (at least in the metropolis); but what is a still more alarming consideration, the number of divorces has been greater than in any preceding year. Is it thus that we reform? Is our goodness as the morning cloud, and as the early den goeth it away? Does our religion spring solely from our fears, and is the degree of our danger the measure of our piety? Does the ardour of our devotion cool, as our apprehensions of public calamity subside ; and is our morality a mere occasional conformity to the rules of the gospel, varying continually with the varying aspect of our affairs abroad and at home? These are mortifying and humiliating questions, but it becomes us to weigh and consider them well; and may God in his mercy grant, that they may produce their due effect upon our hearts !” These faithful interrogations influenced but few. Still, however, there were those in the Established Church and out of it, who had an enlightened zeal for God. The Bible Society was established, the Tract Society instituted, Sunday School labours were greatly extended by voluntary teachers; and at length Joseph Lancaster appeared as the advocate of a universal education, under the patronage of the King. Then it was, that Horsley and Marsh, Wordsworth and Mant, Norris and Plumbtree, began to cry, “ The church is in danger," and seemed ready to invoke the aid of the magistrate to controul “ the wide spreading defection from the national church.” There were a few moderate clergymen, who perceived that the danger of the church arose from very different causes, and amongst them the Rev. Richard Yates addressed a letter, in 1815, to Lord Liverpool on the subject, and availing himself of the recent population returns, he forcibly exhibited the destitution of the people of this country as to religious instruction, and gave an awful prominency to the spiritual desolation of the metropolis. In 1813, a small association of Congregational Dissenters was formed, “ to introduce the gospel into those parts of the metropolis where it appears most needed," and in 1815, Dr. Bennett preached a sermon on its behalf, which he subsequently published entitled,
The Claims of London on the Zeal of Christians, and which it is believed was the first distinct appeal to the religious public, of a recent date, on the necessities of the metropolis.
In 1822, various efforts were made to establish a City Mission for London, but they chiefly originated with an individual who, though possessed of eminent qualifications for such an effort, failed to inspire that confidence in the minds of the nonconformist churches of the metropolis, which is indispensable to eventualsuccess amongst them. In the following year, an excellent clergyman, Rev. J. H. Stewart, M.A.,. then minister of Percy Chapel, published a small tract, entitled, The State of the Metropolis : or the Importance of a Revival of Religion in London, which, though well adapted to impress the reader with serious reflections on the condition of our vast city, was not followed by immediate or obvious results.
The committee of the Home Missionary Society addressed a circular upon the same subject to its constituents in town; which, however, did not produce any organized efforts to meet the exigencies of the case. Two smaller Societies were formed about 1824, but the experience of a few months convinced their committees, thạt it was not in their power to obtain that number of friends and agents that is necessary to accomplish the religious instruction of the poor of the metropolis : they therefore receded, and on June 7, 1825, The Christian Instruction Society was formed, to advance, irrespective of denominational distinctions, evangelical religion amongst the inhabitants of the metropolis and its vicinity. This catholic principle of the Society did not secure the co-operation of Episcopalians, and therefore, in 1828, The General Society for Promoting District Visiting was formed, and upon the lists of its committees are to be found some of the most honoured names connected with the Established Church in London.
Early in 1835, The London City Mission was established, having the same objects in view, but proposing to effect them mainly through the aid of stipendiary, instead of voluntary agents.
During the period that has elapsed since the establishment of the Christian Instruction Society, the moral statistics of our great city have been again and again brought before the public. We believe that the following are the titles of the principal publications on that important subject :-“ Reflections on the Moral and Spiritual Claims of the Metropolis, with an Appendix, further illustrative of the Subject,” by Mr. Blackburn. 1827. “The State of the Metropolis considered, in a Letter to the Bishop of London,” by Mr. Baptist W. Noel. 1835. Proposals for the Creation of a Fund, to be applied to the building and endowment of additional Churches in the Metropolis," by Charles James Lord Bishop of London. 1836. And within a few weeks, “ The present State and Claims of London," by Mr. Ainslie ; and “ The Christian Citizen, a Sermon preached in aid of the London City Mission," by Mr. Harris, of Epsom. Both these pamphlets contain a large collection of notes, illustrative of various statements in the respective discourses. Nothing can be more striking than the contrast which exists between the tone and representations of these discourses, and of those eulogies which aforetime described London as a Capernaum of evangelical light, and a Jerusalem of christian zeal, for the spread of the gospel throughout the earth. In fact, it must be confessed, that there is a danger, lest under the influence of that indignation and pity which the state of the majority of our vast population may well inspire, exaggerated statements should be made respecting their depravity, which, however calculated to stir the zeal of the sanguine, will not convince the judgments of intelligent and thoughtful men.
Existing evils are usually magnified by that benevolence which seeks their mitigation; and this is the most likely to be the case where the field is extensive, and the mists of uncertainty render the objects at once gigantic and obscure. The honour of our common protestantism, and of our common christianity too, demands of all the advocates of the religious wants of London, to remember that every exaggerated representation of its wickedness and destitution gives strength to the reproaches which the papist and the infidel will readily take up against the reformed churches, as if they were shorn of their strength, and left, baffled and confounded, to the insults of their enemies.
In entering upon a review of the moral and ecclesiastical statistics of London, it is proposed to determine two or three questions, which are indispensable to accurate views of our religious affairs. The first to be determined is, what are the boundaries to be assigned to the Metropolis? Mr. Rickman, in his “ Statement of the Progress of Inquiry, under the Population Act of 1830,"* proposes to include, under that name, all the parishes whose churches are within eight English miles rectilinear from St. Paul's Cathedral, the population of which, in 1831, amounted to OnE MILLION AND THREE QUARTERS-(1,776,556.)
As the line of this circle must, however, intersect parishes, we propose to review the statistics of each of the municipal divisions included therein, and then of all the suburban parishes which may come within that radius.
The number of their inhabitants will, therefore, appear, as under, according to the population returns of the metropolitan districts in 1831 :
City of London - - - 122,395
- - 202,460
234,292 Tower Hamlets
- 154,613 Suburban Parishes - - 401,321
Total, 1,776,556 Inhabitants. It is, in the next place, desirable to ascertain, upon certain data, to what extent church and chapel accommodation should be provided for this population. Dr. Chalmers, in his Christian and Civic Economy of Great Towns, assigns “ five-eighths as the
* The Population Returns of 1831, p. 22.
ratio which the church-going inhabitants of a town should bear to the total number of them.”* With all deference for the authority of so eminent an economist, we think that ratio too high for the metropolis, and we will give our reasons.
By the population returns of 1821, it was found that amongst every 10,000 persons of the metropolis there are 1306 children, under five years of age, and that there are 1252 persons above fifty years of age in the same total number.t One half of the latter, it may be fairly supposed, cannot attend public worship, from the infirmities of advancing life. Mr. M‘Culloch, in his chapter on Vital Statistics, calculates that 2 in every 100 persons are constantly sick, making 200 sick in every 10,000 inhabitants. The same gentleman computes, that there are nearly 7} persons to every house in London, or 15 individuals to every 2 houses ; so that there are 1332 houses to every 10,000 persons. Now when the present state of crime in the metropolis is remembered, we may reasonably presume that no house is left without one adult person, and that in all genteel families of an average size, some individuals are detained at home for the protection of property, domestic duties, attendance upon little children, and the care of the aged and the sick. It will not then be too much to compute that on an average, 2 persons are always so detained in each dwelling, making 2664 individuals. The estimate of absentees from public worship will therefore stand as follows:
Children under 5 years -
4796 Thus, in a population of 10,000 persons, we can account on physical and social reasons for the non-attendance at public worship of 4796 individuals, while Dr. Chalmers's computation would allow only for the absence of 3750. There is, however, an obvious difference between the circumstances of a quiet Scotch town and those of this metropolis. If, therefore, the City of London, or any of the boroughs around it, possesses church and chapel room for one half of the population, it will be amply supplied, as far as church accommodation goes, with the means of public instruction.
It is intended, in succeeding papers, to apply these calculations to the cities and boroughs that constitute this great metropolis, and to give a view of our moral and ecclesiastical statistics, which, it is hoped, will be found more accurate and complete than any preceding accounts, and which will be useful to the churches of this capital, and interesting to our brethren throughout the Empire.
* Vol. i. p. 109.
Statistical Account of the British Empire, vol. ii. p. 567.