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ror of night meetings. But the proclivities of a new age, and of a different state of society, have prevailed, and Trinity Church, New-York, is treading close upon the heels of Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's, London, in opening wide its doors at night to other than the elite of upper-ten dom.
I have seen the Collegiate Churches of Philadelphia and of New-York, or at least one of them, and it alone of all the city churches, for thirty years together, opened not for daily morning and evening prayer; but on Wednesdays and Fridays, or as the precise of this class delighted to call them, the prayerdays, (just as if all days alike were not prayer-days !) and at long intervals, I have dropped in here and there, only to note and to sigh over the coldness of the few weary or listless worshippers, and the dull droning of the lifeless priest. I was told, all the while, that it was only a little better, if any better at all, in those churches of dear old England, where habit was somewhat more inveterate, and the pensioners from munificent endowments were a little more numerous ; and at length, even in cathedral churches, I have seen it with my own eyes.
But now, near the close of fifteen years of almost superhuman efforts to set the hand back, in this regard, on the dialplate of time; and to render popular and crowded once more the public services of the Church every morning and evening of the year; the result that might have been expected is pretty well pronounced! As well might our Methodist brethren in the mining and manufacturing districts of our country, attempt to restore Wesley's practice, persevered in for forty years, and at eighty mentioned by him among the secrets of his hale longevity: the practice of preaching an hour at five o'clock every morning in the year. It is precisely in respects like these, that
“Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur cum eis."
The engagements and duties, the tastes and habits of the people do allow of evening meetings; and when a serious spirit is abroad, they are crowded, as now, on Sunday evenings, in London and New-York; and will be well attended, as to my own knowledge they have been for thirty years or more, in the lecture-rooms of those of our Clergy who are wise enough to follow humbly in the footsteps of Griswold, Milnor, and Bedell. The mid-day prayer-meetings in our great cities, during the wonderful religious interest of the past year, are the only apparent exceptions, and time no doubt will show that they have been exceptions precisely of that kind which most strongly prove the rule.
Had half the time, the energy, the effort been expended in promoting, to a greater extent, the sadly neglected duty of family prayer, which have been misdirected to the restoration of an obsolete practice, impracticable in all rural parishes in the existing state of society, who can doubt the greatness of the practical and happy results ? Or who, at all familiar with the contrast, can refrain from thanking God that the evening lecture must soon every where, and especially in villages and country places, come into the place of the feudal daily prayer, in the Church ? Indeed, prayers, without a word of exposition, counsel, or comfort, never will be largely attended; since the lips which God has touched and attuned to prayer and praise, are always accompanied with the ears which He hath opened to hear His word.*
And yet, after all, some good may result from these mistaken efforts. They will leave behind them the good fruit of occasional, more frequent services. The sacred season of Lent and the daily service of Passion week seem to occupy precisely the desired place, between protracted meetings, which are fitful, exciting, and artificial, and that unbroken uniformity of established routine which to some becomes tasteless, and to many, wearisome. And few things in the manifold, happy adaptations of the services of our branch of the Church, have struck me more forcibly than the testimony of two of our most eminent and devoted Presbyters, in very different parts of the country, that the visible fruits of the last Lent services, furnished only a fractional increase over the increasing fruits of several previons years, notwithstanding the powerful sympathetic influence experienced over their congregation, in the deep, powerful, and wide-spread religious interest, by which the winter had been signalized.
* The introduction of gas-lights in our streets and in our churches, no doubt has exerted a most powerful influence in bringing about this great change in the social habits of Christendom.
Just at the height of Dr. Bedell's distinguished career, the Sunday-school movement was moulding, and in turn was being moulded, by the coming together of those mighty and gracious elements which originated the St. Andrew's Church enterprise, and that large and long succession of efforts in Philadelphia, which have grown, and are growing out of it. And truly wonderful in my eyes, was the gentle wisdom which quietly kept in restraint its few evils, and guided to larger and better results its many good tendencies. In this respect, as well as in many others, he was preëminently the man for the place and the hour. The zeal which elevated the Sundayschool of St. Andrew's to an honorable place in the front ranks of all those of our country, of whatever denomination, must have been great. Through his influence, aided by a no. ble corps of devoted coadjutors, an influence was brought to bear upon the young men of the congregation, at the turning. point, and most eventful period of their lives, just when passing from the Sunday-school to the Bible-class, which I have rarely seen equalled. This still remains the great want of the age and of our country. It is better inet in our branch of the Church than elsewhere; but so imperfectly, that I know of no existing evil which presses so heavily upon the consciences of the fathers and elders of our Church, than the difference of the result of our Sunday-school efforts upon the boys and the girls, which is tested by the fewness of the young men who enter the Bible-classes, come forward to confirmation, and pass from the position of pupils in our Sunday-schools, to that of teachers! What can be done to meet and remedy this, difficulty ?
Whilst dwelling upon this subject in this connection, and during this very writing, I met with the following passage in Dr. Sprague's charming Annals of the American Episcopal Pulpit, in that racy, touching, and highly appreciative notice of that remarkable man of God, the Rev. Jarvis Barry Buxton, of Fayetteville, N. C., drawn up by his pupil and successor, the Rev. Joseph C. Huske:
"In this spirit it was that he always dealt with us (boys) while we were thoughtless about religion. He first won us to confidence in himself, that through that, he might bring all the power of divine truth to bear upon us, And this he failed not to do as we grew older, making every occurrence in the town that was suited to produce religious impressions upon the mind, the basis of powerful exhortations in his frequent lectures to us. So that when we arrived at a suitable age to make a public confession of Christ, there was hardly one of my coëvals who did not make that confession in the rite of confirmation. And I believe it is owing, under God, to his faithful instruction of us, both before and after confirmation, and to the peculiar influence of his character, that I am now able to say, that of twelve or fifteen young men, confirmed with me, and of others confirmed soon after, nearly every one still remains faithful to his vows to God and grateful for the fidelity of our lamented friend. The fact that our communion-table is filled with young men to a larger extent than in any other place of which I have any knowledge, is the monument which he himself built to perpetuate his memory, more durable than the marble shaft, erected by the ladies of this congregation to mark the spot where his remains are deposited!” (P. 682.)
At the same result, with most tender, persuasive, and indomitable zeal did Dr. Bedell direct his efforts. When will the time come when all our clergy“ will go and do likewise ?"
But one aspect more of the character of our dear departed brother remains to be depicted; and it is one in which his image rises up before me, stamped with the meekness and gentleness of Christ, indeed, as was always the case; but surrounded with a halo of moral heroism, which, in my long life, I have seen equalled but twice, and exceeded never.
There was about Dr. Bedell neither by nature nor choice any thing of the partisan, and least of all in church matters. And yet by the force of circumstances, at the time of the highest party excitement of which I have ever been the witness, he stood forth as the chief and leader of a defeated party. It was soon after this defeat that I was called to Philadelphia.
At this distance of time, and under the changed aspects of that great Diocese, it would be a most unworthy and unchristian act, to endeavor to stir up buried strifes anew. And the task is a peculiarly delicate and difficult one to which I am addressing myself, whilst anxiously avoiding this, to give such a brief outline of the course of events, at that time, as shall impart to others some share of the admiration which I entertain of a delicate, retiring, and feeble man, roused by a sa
cred sense of duty to give a vote and to take a stand, which cost him a most heroic struggle.
The dominant party, in the first Pennsylvania Convention which I attended, were about to make a no very gentle use of their ascendency, by passing a new Constitution and Canons, which seemed to the defeated party likely long to perpetuate their inferiority. All that appeared before them was hopeless resistance, or very slight modifications; when a suggestion was thrown out, that perhaps if a united vote were given for the Constitution whose provisions seemed least objectionable, the majority might consent to defer the passage of the Canons, leaving them open to the mellowing influence of time. The suggestion, to be carried ont, would require the previous assent of a large majority of both parties; and the effect would have been the breaking up of the then existing party lines; at least to a very considerable extent. On this very account it was favored by many, it seeming to them wholly inexpedient to perpetuate a rigid party organization, after the occasion of its array had passed by; indeed the impossibility of doing so, had already become evident. The attempt to bring about such concerted action was made, and, as might have been expected, was a total failure, and was not only well known, but explicitly declared to be so, before the meeting of Convention. And yet, when it did meet, all the advantages of concerted action having failed, so near was the defeated party to the edge of disorganization, that it soon became evident that it could no longer be kept together in the casting of a strictly party vote.
Almost first upon the list of those about to be called upon to record their ayes and noes upon the test question, I saw my admirable friend, midway the centre aisle of his own church, making his way slowly and calmly through the crowd, till he reached the Secretary's table, when turning to the large audience, already hushed and all alive with excitement, he drew himself up to his utmost height, as he was wont to do in the more impassioned portions of his sermons, and briefly gave the reasons for his vote, and pronounced his emphatic No. The firmness and the modesty combined, were inimitable, and produced a thrilling effect upon every beholder! The inexorable