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'He next related how he found a way,
We have not met with anything more curious in this way than the passage which we have been quoting. Let us hope that the curate of Pucklechurch has the means to delight the world with many similar commentaries on his father's works; and, parting with him for the present with grateful respect, let us be pardoned for expressing our hope, that the eldest son and worthy biographer of Crabbe may not be much longer a curate. His method of alluding to the ' Tory and aristocratic leanings' of his father in his later years, indicates that he is not exactly of our way of thinking as to politics; but we cannot, after reading his book, doubt that he is a kind-hearted, good man, and a zealous parish priest; and, fully admitting that the Tory ministers were much to blame for their neglect of the illustrious father, it would give us sincere pleasure to learn that this had been in some measure atoned for, by the attention of their Whig successors to the virtuous and amiable son. It will always, we are sorry to say, be a national disgrace that the author of 'The Borough' did not die in possession of at least a golden prebend. But the House of Rutland did their part, and their patronage of Crabbe will be remembered as long as the glories of their Granby.
Art. IX.— 1. Church Reform. By a Churchman. J830.
2. The Church of England: or safe, liberal, and Christian Principles of Reform in the Establishment; with the beneficial Changes which may be made, consistently with Reason and Religion, in the Ecclesiastical Affairs of this Kingdom. By a Clergyman. London. 1830. pp. 51.
3. The Liturgy Revised; or the Necessity and Beneficial Effects of an authorised Abridgment and careful Revision of the various Services of the Established Church. By the Rev. Robt. Cox, A.M., Perpetual Curate of Stonehouse. Lond. 1830. pp. 136. 4. The
4. The British Liturgy; an Attempt towards an Analysis, Arrangement, and Compression of the Book of Common Prayer. By the Rev. John Riland, A.M., Curate of Yoxall. London. 1833.
5. The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments, and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, netoly arranged, with Alterations and Abbreviations. By Francis Russell Hall, B.D., Rector of Fulbourn, and late Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge. Cambridge, 1833.
(i. A Petition to the House of Lords. By the Rev. C. N. Wodehouse, Prebendary of Norwich. Mirror of Parliament, 5th August, 1833.
7. Evidence of the Necessity of Church Reform. By the Rev. George H. Stoddart, A.M., of Queen's College, Oxford. London. 18:33. pp. 84.
8. Reform without Re-construction, Src.; accompanied with a Plan for the Compression of the Liturgy and Ritual of the Church of England. By Uvedale Price, M.A., of Christ Church, Oxford. London. 1833.
T^HE Church of England is as a beleaguered city—she sees her most important outwork, the Church of Ireland, attacked, dismantled, and awaiting in helpless nakedness the hostile signal for general plunder. As concerns herself more immediately, she sees her coalesced enemies taking up, on various points, the vantage ground of attack; nor are there wanting—alas—many a Sinon, who, with hypocritical professions of attachment, would persuade us to breach our own walls for the reception of the monstrous fabrications of the enemy. Thus surrounded and distracted by virulent enemies and false friends, the Church cannot but feel a fearful anxiety for the result. She is well aware that there never was a season in which she was stronger for such a contest—when her doctrine was purer, her discipline more decent, her ministers, as a body, more worthy of respect, her congregations more numerous or more devoted—but she sees, on the other hand, that a combination of extraordinary and alarming circumstances—(the chief of which is, no doubt, the predominating influence in the legislature which the Reform Bill has given to sectaries of all classes)—renders her position more precarious, and the result of the, as it seems, inevitable conflict more tremendous than at any former crisis of her existence. All this she sees and duly appreciates; but she also feels, we trust, that higher than honourable—that purer than patriot—that better than mural—that Christian courage, which rises with danger, derives strength from persecution, and sees, even through the clouds of temporary disaster, a future, a certain, and an eternal triumph.
But it is not the Church of England alone that is in danger: the principles which are afloat menace eventually all churches and all religion—they are essentially anti-Christian. We have watched, with increasing regret, the league—ad hoc—which the sectarian opponents of our Establishment have made with its infidel enemies. Even those amongst the Roman Catholics and Protestant Dissenters (and we hope they are the great majority) who abhor infidelity, and regret, in their hearts, their temporary alliance with it, are ready, it seems, to continue the partnership—usque ad aras—to the overthrow of the Church; and some even of the most moderate in temper, and the most sincere in piety amongst them, anticipate with complacency the early downfall of our Establishment; selfishly and foolishly hoping that their own separate religious interests will be not only not endangered by our danger, but advanced by our defeat and exalted by our fall. Natural reason, however, and historical experience, if sectarian prejudice and passion did not intervene, would lead them to the very opposite conclusion. Reason would tell them that the Church of England stands, as it were, in the midst, between the extreme opinions of the Christian sects; between what the Dissenters decry as the superstitious forms and blind credulity of the Roman Catholics, and what these denounce as the mundane discipline and sceptical doctrine of the Presbyterians ; and that, were the Church of England removed out of the way, these two extreme sects would probably come into early and fierce collision. Her intermediate position, but still more her moderation—her tolerant spirit—her learning—her rank—her wealth—her political influence, and her spiritual purity, all combine to give her a kind of moral authority, even over those of other communions, which has tended to discountenance and mitigate, not merely persecution, but even the acerbities of controversy. Some of the most remarkable passages of our domestic history confirm this reasoning by the evidence of facts. In the Grand Rebellion, all the sectaries combined to pull down the Church, and they succeeded—but what followed P—The Roman Catholics vanished before the Presbyterians. The Presbyterians, in their turn, became as odious as the Church had been, and were soon overthrown and oppressed by the Independents; who again broke up into an hundred intolerant and fanatical factions, from which the weary and woful nation—Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Independents and all, were glad once again to take refuge under the protection of an ' Establishment in Church and State.'
Again: when James II. began his mad crusade against the Church of England, and planned the exaltation of popery on her ruin, on whom did he first try the wily arts of pretended toleration —of Church Reform? On the Protestant Dissenters, Them
he he attempted to cajole by illusory indulgence, and for a time* with some success; but the fraud was soon detected—the Dissenters ultimately clung to the Church in what they had then the prudence to see was a common danger; and, by their joint power, popery was defeated and repressed. But the history of that day proves that much of the rigour of those repressive measures was owing to the zeal and influence of the Dissenters, and that the Church of England was exposed to some obloquy on account of her reluctance to push, as far as the Dissenters would have wished, the penal system.
Again: when the Calvinisfs of France fled from the bloody bigotry of Louis and Louvois, where did they seek refuge? Under the tolerant auspices of the Church of England. And again: when the French Roman Catholic priesthood escaped from the pikes of the infidel Jacobins, where did they find an asylum? In the sympathizing charity of the Church of England. If even there were not higher motives—more transcendent impulses, to induce us to cling with love and reverence to our communion, is there any man who does not feel his heart wanned and his spirit ennobled, by the thought of belonging to that Church, whose tolerant, benevolent, and impartial protection—the most adverse factions—the most discordant sects —the most infuriated adversaries—seek with confidence, obtain without condition, and enjoy without sacrifice or scruple ?—' She has been a strength to the poor—a comfort to the needy in his distress—a refuge from the storm—a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm.'—Isaiah xxv. 4.
These are considerations of human policy, which should, we think, (independently of higher motives,) induce every sincere Christian, whatever be his sect, to pause before he lends himself to the overthrow of this great bulwark of public liberty, this ready asylum from religious or political persecution. If she should be for a season overthrown—what is there that could supply her place in the social system of the civilized world?
From these general political considerations, we proceed to observe that the question usually styled Church Reform divides itself into two parts—the one, which may be called the secular part of the subject, including the temporalities of the Church—its property—the ranks, numbers, mode of election, and discipline of its ministers—ecclesiastical corporations and courts—pluralitiesparochial registries and rates, &.c. It is to this class of subjects that what is usually spoken of as Church Reform is understood to apply. It is on such matters that the king's ministers pretend to have reformed the Irish Church, and that they now mean to legislate for the English Church. We have already expressed, however inadequately,
our disapprobation of much of the detail of what has been done in Ireland, and our alarm at the principle on [which it is done. Still more strong are our apprehensions of what may be intended for England; but as the session of parliament is so near at hand, -we believe we shall best consult the interests of the Church, as -well as the wishes of our readers and the convenience of the public discussion, by reserving our further observations on this head of secular reform till we shall have before us the formal proposition of the Government.
But there is a second, and to us, still more important part of the subject, which has been brought into recent discussion— —not by the avowed enemies of the church, but—by certain individuals calling themselves members of the Church of England—and professing to be actuated by a conscientious desire to advance her interests and to exalt her character;—we mean, what may be called Liturgical Reform; that is, such alterations, abbreviations, and amendments, as, in the opinion of these individuals, may make the Liturgy more satisfactory to Churchmen, and more conciliatory to Dissenters.
Now to all such propositions, at this time, we are prepared to give at once our decided and uncompromising negative. We do not believe that there is any sincere and single-miuded member of the Church of England seriously dissatisfied with her Liturgy, in any essential, and scarcely in any formal particular. The project of reclaiming any considerable number of the Dissenters is a mere vision; we are convinced that there is no alteration, which could induce one sectary, to join us, that would not distress, if not alienate, thousands of the faithful: and we pledge -ourselves to show that there is not one of these propositions -which can stand individually the test of rational examination; and that, considered collectively, they contradict, refute, expose, and -annihilate each other.
We must preface the more detailed discussion by some observations upon that most considerable class of critics who invest their opinions with the important authority of the clerical character. These gentlemen cannot be ignorant that with the public at large, and, above all, with those who are the professed adversaries of the Establishment, any admission on their parts— and still more any assertion—of errors in the doctrines or discipline of which they are the sworn guardians and ministers, must be of the most serious consequence. In the ordinary business of life, it would not be considered within the rules of honourable or even fair dealing, to turn the weight of authority against those who conferred it—in an advocate, for instance, to join in arraigning the client he was retained to defend, or in an agent