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that we need. But look how little prospect there is of an adequate ministry being collected. There are half a million of souls now in the Missouri Valley, reckoning the population on both sides of the bank. They are scattered over so wide an expanse of territory—they are many of them so desultory and nomadic in their habits, that it would be difficult to collect among them congregations averaging over one hundred. To enable us to discharge our duties to this class alone, would require a body of clergymen four times exceeding in number our entire clergy list. Such a proportion of ordained clergymen, or any thing approaching such a proportion, we can not expect to see. It is best, indeed, that we should not, with our present resources. The usage of the Church, and the opinion of society at large, require that the minister should be dependent on bis missionary or parochial stipend for his support. It is not meet that he should mix his sacred calling with a secular profession. By such a separation of offices, in fact, we preserve, if not the spirituality, at least the professional learning and tone which enable the clergy to be the instructors of instructors. But this very fact prevents us from proceeding to such a desecularization of the more active and reliable Christian energies as the ordination of so immense a proportion of the community would require. Medieval history proves to us that so great an extension of the ecclesiastical orders is good neither for the Church nor for the State.
But, after all, these questions are made nugatory by the real state of facts. The truth is, that it is not church accommodations we want, but influences to induce the people to avail themselves of those accommodations that really exist. Mr. Horace Mann's Report of the famous Sunday Census, undertaken a few years since under the direction of the English Home Secretary, gives us some pregnant admonitions in this respect. In England there were on that Sunday five millions of persons who might have attended divine service, at least once, who neglect. ed to do so. These persons, who, according to the Report, “every Sunday neglect religious ordinances, do so of their own free choice, and are not compelled to be absent on account of a deficiency of sittings.” Of the entire population, 58 per cent falls under this category.
And how is it in our own land ? I fear the testimony of those who have visited our churches, whether in the West or the East, will be to the same effect. It is very rare that we find a full congregation. There are, it is true, exceptions—as where the room occupied is very small, or where there is an Episcopal visitation, or where there is a strong religious feeling at the time prevalent in the community at large. But as a general thing the hotel is full, but not the church. Small as these churches are, and thick as is the current of population eddying round them, we rarely find their seats more than two thirds occupied. Under such circumstances, it is for us to take home to our own hearts the impressive words of the English Report : “ The considerable number of available sittings which are every Sunday totally unoccupied might be adduced as proofs so manifest of unconcern for spiritual matters on the part of a great portion of the people that, until they are innpressed with more solicitude for their religious culture, it is useless to erect more churches."
Now, I do not concur in the ancillary conclusion, that “it is useless to erect more churches," though I do in the main proposition, that our duty is to awaken, by a preliminary agency, “more solicitude for their religious culture” in the great multitudes by whom these accommodations are now neglected. Let this solicitude be aroused, and churches, far more valued, far more effective, though perhaps ruder and plainer, will become its natural product. But how is this great and primary feeling—that, in fact, of the soul, conscious of its ruin, and seeking reconciliation and communion with its God-how is this feeling to be aroused? And I suppose that there is but one answer, and that is, under God's grace, and in subordination to the motions of His spirit in the heart, by the preaching," either through the tongue or the press, of His glad tidings.
This, however, it may be said, does not bring us a step nearer the solution. It is not a question of general, but of specific means; not a question of motive energy, but of mechanism. I admit this; but let us, before going further, proceed to consider what indications there are, in this particular field, of the character of the agency by which the want can be most effectively reached. And I can not but look at the whole Mississippi and Missouri Valleys as in this respect impressed with a remarkable significance. It would seem, as if, in preparation for the coming of the Son of Man, that a high-way had been cut leading to every section of those vast and splendid regions. It is a high-way through which error can travel quickly, but truth more quickly still. Are we, when the road is open, when we see the light vehicles of skepticism gayly traversing it from east to west and north to south,-shall we hold back, lest we mix with what is common or unclean? Are we to hold to the old family-carriage, circumscribed though its motive energies be, and refuse the car, because the latter is open to all ?
I can not, if it be permitted to us to avail ourselves of an agency whose only fault is its openness, but look upon the educational apparatus of the far West as a means of peculiar moment in preaching an awakening Gospel. The country is divided into sections and quarter-sections. Through the wise policy which controlled the formation of the Territorial bills, a proportion of the public land was set apart to enable each section and quarter-section to have its school house. These school. houses are open for religious uses on Sunday, and, if it be required, on week-day evenings. For these no hire is asked. But one qualification I have ever known observed, though that is general — it is the exclusion of Universalists, Unitarians, and skeptics generally. Roman Catholics exclude themselves. I can not but pause a moment here, to bear witness to the noble efforts of Methodist itinerants in those very buildings. I believe that there is a great debt due to these true-hearted and self-denying inen, representatives of whom I met on the extreme borders of Kansas and Nebraska. It is a debt, I hold, not of religion alone. The country owes much to them, not only for moral teaching, but for intellectual culture. Rude and illiterate as some of them may be, they carry their little libraries with them, the contents of which they dispose of from
house to house. Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, in which every word is a picture; Wesley's sermons, whose severe and neat logic is so often forgotten in their glowing unction; Baxter's Saint's Rest, wiping the dimmed eye of sad old age, and let. ting it see Jerusalem that is above-these books do not only the work of religion, but that of literature. For the farmer's boy, or even the steam-boat hand, sets to read them, in the ardor of his first religious bope, by the pine-knot in the cabin, or by the ruddy glare of the coals in the engine-room; and when he reads, he opens and clears the avenue to those tracts where lie Shakspeare, and Milton, and Cowper, and Wordsworth. I can not but feel that this subsidiary advantage of the colporteur system of the Methodist itinerant is one we have too much overlooked. It involves the communication of certain grand and vital truths; but it also affords the impetus to a refined culture, of all others the most likely to sustain habits of religious fidelity and secular industry.
But that which is open to the Methodist itinerant is open to our own. The Methodists, in fact, only do a small fraction of the work. Perhaps I may be judging wrongly; but I think that which they really do, they do not do completely. In the great procession westwards, even in their own track, there is much still to come. But be this as it may, there is an enormous field on which they have not even touched. In respect to this field, have we not, as a communion, a specific duty ? Now I feel that if such be the case, there is but one way open to us by which this duty can be performed. It is by the preaching and teaching, under Episcopal direction, by laymen deriving their support from their own secular labors.
Let us glance for a moment at the incidental advantages of such a plan. It is (1) self-supporting. It is (2) non-professional and pervasive. I might cite, under the latter point, the testimony of the clergy examined before the Bishop of Exeter's late Committee on Spiritual Destitution. Two agencies they recognize as peculiarly and almost solely instrumental in the great work of awakening the non-church-going classes to a sense of their religious danger. One of these is the Scripture Readers' Society. The other is the London City Mis
sion.* Both these work through laymen, who penetrate where
* The Westminster Review, well known as a bitter opponent of " Evangelical" Religion, pays the following tribute to this organization, in its issue for January, 1859:
“Many of the clergymen examined spoke most gratefully of the aid which they had received from the agents of the Scripture Readers' Society, and the London City Mission. This latter Association, which is not exclusively a Church Society, has been in operation about twenty-three years, and is under the presidency of the Earl of Shaftesbury. It will be readily understood, that the agents employed by it, although they are not subjected to the ecclesiastical test of the three Creeds and the Thirty-nine Articles, are examined as to their fitness for their work, in accordance with what are called usually Evangelical views. There will also occur naturally in the Reports of the Society phraseologies peculiar to the school of its chief supporters, and which do not sound genuine to the ears of others. But in the face of the service which they undertake, peculiarities of views may well be pardoned; and with little sympathy ourselves with those schools of pseudo-theology above indicated, we must express our astonishment at the Lords' committee having the hardihood to ignore the attempts—if they be no more-of a Society which now bas, more or less, under the action of its agents one half of the metropolis; which has risen in a few years to an income of £33,000 per annum from voluntary contributions, and without whose assistance some of the regular Church clergy of London acknowledge they do not know how they could get on at all. This Society, whatever its peculiarities, does employ human agencies, and whatever the Darrowness of the theology of its patrons may be at root, it does endeavor to grapple with the immorality of the metropolis."
We quote one or two other authorities to the same effect:
"The Bishop of Ripon presided at a meeting in the Leeds Town Hall on Thursday, March, 1859, for the formation of a Yorkshire Scripture Readers' Society. He explained that a West Riding Scripture Readers' Association had existed since 1852. It was now proposed to enlarge its basis, and call it “The Yorkshire Church of England Scripture Readers' Association." His Lordship, in the next place, stated what were the rules of the enlarged Association. It was not intended that the Society should in the slightest degree interfere with the province of the parochial clergy, but that it should be an auxiliary to the usefulness of that body. The Society was intended, in the next place, to be dependent upon public support for its existence, a contingency which rendered it necessary to invoke the aid of the laity, and the rules were so framed that the lay element would have a voice in the management of the Association, without in the slightest degree interfering with the responsibilities and privileges of the clergy. The religious position of the Readers was also provided for; they must be communicants of the Church of England, and of position and ability to discharge efficiently their onerous house-tohouse duties. His Lordship next alluded to the necessity there existed for the calling in of this lay support. Parishes in the populous manufacturing districts of Yorkshire had largely increased in population of late, and had become almost too unwieldy for the management of the clergy by themselves. In the Diocese of Ripon alone the population was large in the extreme. That population was not