THOUGHTS-GRAVE AND &AY. THE first time the Abyssinians saw the engines in a steam-vessel

they were struck with amazement, and said that the English were a very clever people, for they had captured the devil, and put him in an iron box, and made him work.

It behoves us always to bear in mind that while actions are always to be judged by the immutable standard of right and wrong, the judgments which we pass upon men must be qualified by considerations of age, country, station, and other accidental circumstances; and it will then be found that he who is most charitable in his judgments is generally the least unjust.-Southey.

Mr. Forster took the opportunity of informing the public that he still holds the same opinion he expressed in Parliament, and embodied in the clause which has made all the mischief. He has learned nothing from the experience and agitations of a couple of years. Parents who cannot pay school fees, do not want to choose the schools to which their children shall be sent; but Mr. Forster has a notion that they ought to choose the exact form which public help should take. Perhaps he will some day propose that the recipients of parish loaves should choose their baker; and that when the parish doctor visits a patient, that patient should be free to refuse his services, and demand to have the attendance of Sir Henry Thompson or Sir William Gull.—Daily News.

The Jews would not willingly tread upon the smallest piece of paper in their way, but took it up; for possibly, said they, the name of God



upon it. Though there was a little superstition in this, yet truly there is nothing but good religion in it if we apply it to men. Trample not on any; there may be some work of grace there that thou knowest not of. The name of God may be written upon that soul thou treadest on, therefore despise it not.-Leighton.

That sex which almost alone was friendly to the Saviour-which anointed His feet with ointment, and followed Him with tears to His cross—which prepared sweet spices for His burial, and was the first to hail His resurrection, has, in turn, been especially befriended by His Gospel. It has raised her from the degrading condition of a slave, or her still more degrading condition as a mere instrument of passion, to be a refined and purifying influence in society, and to lend to home the dignity and the grace of the mother, wife, sister, and daughter.


EWS OF THE MONTH. THE year which—as we write—is drawing to an end, will close an

important era in the political and ecclesiastical annals of this country. For the first time in our history the Nonconformist communities, which hitherto had been the mere beasts of burden to the Liberal party, have emerged from their seclusion, and have claimed to be, and been confessed to be, a power in the State-a power they will never again lay aside. It took a great deal to bring them, or rather to goad them, into this position. They had been so long accustomed to hew the wood and draw the water for their aristocratic allies, the Whigs ; they had been so commonly ignored, and snubbed, and patronised; they had so constantly seen every claim of everybody (except their own) considered, every wrong (except their own) redressed, that they had got used to it. Now and then a minister of state would throw them a few crumbs of compliment; but the great chariot of Liberal government rolled majestically along, while the sublime beings who rode therein either feigned to forget or actually forgot who it was that pulled so patiently and persistently at the traces, and who so inconspicuously yet laboriously put their shoulders to the wheel.

It was the peculiar genius of Mr. Forster that found the means of bringing things to a crisis. Brought up as a Nonconformist, he knew-or might have known-exactly where the yoke would most sorely pinch, and where the lash would most heavily fall—and he applied both with irresistible effect. Undercover of a desire to promote education, he brought in a Bill which in a generation or less — should blot out Nonconformity from the land. Happily the design was discovered. The skilful attack was so resisted and resented, that the overthrow of the ministry was threatened; and soon—at any risk and at any cost—Liberal government in England would have been swept away like chaff before the wind. And though the author of all this mischief still asserts his infallibility, the ablest and severest critic of his handiwork has been placed alongside of him in the same Cabinet; and on the limitation of Mr. Forster's influence, and on the inauguration of an equitable policy on national education, depends the fate of the government. Thus the old year closes an era of confusion, sectarianism, and distrust : it remains to be seen whether the new year will usher in a new career for Liberal government, of equity and honour, or of disaster and disgrace.

The School Board contests that have raged through town after town, and will yet rage, have witnessed the bursting of a gond miny big bubbles. There was, for instance, the “no rate" Lubble. On that frail and delusive fabric many gentlemen have sought tu be borne into office by a too confiding people. Landlords, too, have employed the “ no rate” cry as a means of coercing their tenants ; but a recent incident at Birmingham, the prospect of a £50 penalty and of imprisonment, the protection of the ballot, and the vigilance of Liberal committees, will probably prevent the repetition of landlord intimidation. Besides, everybody now sees that, in order to lighten the heavy burdens of our poor rates and prison rates, a small school rate is being paid and must be paid ; and that the only question before the country is whether that rate shall be put into the pockets of irresponsible sects, or kept under the control of the ratepayers.

The second bubble was a “Bible bubble.” What a shocking thing," exclaimed well-meaning people, “that the Bible should be kept away from the children! Surely those who wish this must be secularists, infidels, atheists, and worse.” But at length these worthy alarmists found that there is hardly a person to be found who does not wish religious instruction to be given to the children, and that the only question is who shall teach its sacred truths—the state-paid schoolmaster, or those who love it.

Another bubble was the “voluntary” bubble. After all the professions about “ voluntaryism," about “ saving the public money,” etc., the truth has gradually been leaking out. Voluntaryism usually means liberality: now it appears that the “ liberality” of our Conservative friends means liberality with other people's money." Voluntaryism usually means willingness - willinghood :” now it seems that it means “willingness” to take public money, and to refuse to give any account to the public of how it has been spent. The Rev. B. Waugh recently stated that“ in his neighbourhood £3 out of £9 of the cost of their maintenance came from the pockets of the people -out of Government grants and children's pence; and he thought that generous denominationalists who gave £1 in order to have control over the people's £8, bought power very cheap."

The fourth delusion that has dazzled and dazed some beholders, has been what we may call the “good education bubble.” " What


matter," they have said, “if this sect does get an undue advantage, and if that sect suffers some grievance, so that the children can be got to school, and there receive a good education ?" But that is exactly what the children do not get, and this sad fact is clearly coming into the light. Though nearly £1,000,000 sterling of public money is spent every year on our primary schools; though 2,000,000 children are on the registers of the schools, yet the educational results are deplorable. “Our present educational system,” says a clergyman, the head master of the City of London School, “ is a failure-of that there can be no doubt.” Nor is such a result surprising when, according to the official organ of the National Society, the main object to be kept in view in the schools, is that they should be “ nurseries ” (not of education, but) “of church principles;" and when that journal in almost so many words declares that the supreme object of our public schools ought to be to train the children so that they may grow up to be Churchmen, whose votes will avert disestablishment.

And now that these bubbles, with all their soapy, sickly shams, have collapsed, the air grows clearer for the conflict. The dazzling fragile delusions have gone, and we can see plainly the armies in the field, the standards under which they are ranged, and the issues of the fight. These issues are sufficiently momentous. Is public taxation to be, or not to be, under public control? Is the education of the children of the people to be controlled by irresponsible hole-andcorner cliques, or by the people? Is national education to be a weapon in the hands of priesthoods--a monopoly for the aggrandisement of sects? or is it to be pure, free, and measureless as the air we breathe, the birthright of every child in the land ? Nay, more. Nonconformists everywhere have to aid this great nation at this supreme crisis in determining whether we will uphold the hands of a noble-minded statesman in eradicating the defects of a measure which he declares is the worst that has been passed by a Liberal Government for forty years, in reversing a policy of retrogression and reaction, and in hushing the miserable strife of schisms and sects that rages through the land; and whether, instead of all this, he shall usher in a period in which national education shall no longer be promoted in the interests of sects, in which the only rivalry shall be who shall confer the richest blessings on the children of the poor, and who shall spread widest peace on earth and good will among



Meanwhile the condition of the Established Church becomes every day more deplorable. It is, of course, no new thing, for instance, that the revival of the confessional in the Anglican Church should be discussed and advocated in a tone of confident assurance. “ Thanks mainly to the meek submission of the Evangelical party, we are getting quite used to that;” and used also to other evils almost as bad. “I behold,” says the Rev. J. W. Burgon, preaching at Oxford, “ with dismay the ghastly up-growth of one more sect, one more schism, one fresh aspect of Nonconformity. There is no telling, in fact, how fatal is this retrograde movement to the progress of real Churchmanship throughout the length and breadth of the land. * Ritualism' (for so disloyalty to the Church is absurdly called) is the great difficulty with a surprising number of the clergy in our large towns, especially in the northern dioceses. The working people simply hate it. “I dare not call a Church defence meeting in this town,' writes an able and faithful incumbent; "it would be instantly turned into an anti-Ritualistic demonstration.'”

The Bishop of Ripon has recently been speaking on Church defence, and, in doing so, charged the Nonconformists with an' aggressive policy against the Established Church. Dr. Mellor has ably replied:

:-“ We are, in your opinion,” he says, “the aggressors, and you the defenders. The distinction is both insufficient and unjust, for it leaves wholly out of view the prior aggression of which the Nonconformists complain that they have been the victims for centuries, and which your lordship will not deny has been checked and moderated through the legislation of the last two hundred years. I need not name the several oppressive Acts which have been successively repealed, not by the spontaneous promptings of the Church of England, but by the stern and determined action of the Nonconformists themselves. What, I would ask your lordship, was the cause of these frequent contests, now happily matters of history? Was it Nonconformity, or was it State Churchism? The Church of England was then one great Church defence institution to resist the righteous claims of Dissenters, and I must be pardoned if I remind your lordship that the wrong which occasions resistance is the aggression, and that resistance to it is only a fair and just defence. The maintainers of slavery, of corn monopoly, of university exclusiveness, and of every legalised privilege, might cheaply brand their opponents as restless disturbers and assailants; but the verdict of

« ElőzőTovább »