« ElőzőTovább »
but Christianity goes forth to knock sent engaged with. The ability and at the door of nature, and, if possible, the Christian worth of dissenters, and awaken her out of her sluggishness. the precious contributions which they This was the way of it at its first pro- have rendered to sacred literature, mulgation. It is the way of it in every should ever screen them from being missionary enterprise. And seeing, lightly or irreverently spoken of. And that the disinclination of the human yet, among all their elaims to the graheart to entertain the overtures of the titude of the public, we think that gospel, forms a mightier obstacle to they have a higher still, in their its reception among men, than all the wholesome re-action on the establishoceans and continents which mission- ments of the land, in their fresh, and aries have to traverse, there ought to vigorous, and ever-recurring impulses be a series of aggressive measures in on a machinery, the usefulness of behalf of Christianity, carried on from which they may disown in words, one age to another, in every clime and while, in fact, they are among the country of Christendom. To wait till most effective instruments of its usethe people shall stir so effectually, as fulness.-pp. 89-95. that places of worship shall be built It is quite true that the establishby them, and the maintenance of ment has been greatly more powerless teachers shall be provided by them, in cities, than, with care and vigilance and that, abundantly enough for all on the part of our rulers, it might the moral and spiritual necessities of have been. It is not merely of the our nation, is very like a reversal of inadequate number of churches that the principle on which Christianity we complain, though these, in some of was first introduced amongst us, and the chief cities of our empire, could on which, we apprehend, Christianity not harbour more than a tenth part must still be upheld amongst us. We, of the inhabitants. Neither is it of therefore, hold it to be wise, in every the manner in which the clergy have Christian government, to meet the been loaded with such extra-profespeople with a ready-made apparatus sional work, as, in fact, has reduced of Christian education. It is like a their usefulness as ministers, greatly constant and successive going forth beneath the level of thatof their dissent amongst them with those lessons ing brethren. But, in addition to all which they never would have sought this, the most precious advantages of after, through all the sacrifices that an establishment have been virtually they else would have had to make, thrown away, and its ministers disarmand all the obstacles that they else ed of more than half their influence, by must have overcome. It is in order a mere point of civic practice and reguto perpetuate the religion of the peo- lation. By what may be called a most ple, keeping up the same aggressive- unfortunate blunder in moral tactics, ness of operation, which first origi- an apparatus that might have borne nated the religion of the people. We with peculiar effect on the hosts of a are aware that itinerancy is an aggres- rapidly degenerating population, has sive operation, and that dissenters do been sorely thwarted and impeded in itinerate. But we are mistaken if, in the most essential part of the mechathis way, there is more of the gospel nism which belongs to it. Not by brought into contact with the inha- the fault of any, but through the mere bitants of our country, throughout oversight of all, a wide disruption has the space of a year, than is heard on been made between city ministers, every single Sabbath within the pale and the people of their respective loof its two establishments. This is calities; and we should esteem it a not fastening the contempt of insig- truly important epoch in the Christian nificance upon dissenters; for, in economy of towns, were effectual meatruth, the good done by their locomo- sures henceforth taken, to repair grative proceedings forms, we believe, a dually, and without violence, the misvery humble fraction, indeed, of the chief alluded to. good that emanates from their pulpits, What we complain of is, the mode and is performed through the week, which has obtained hitherto of letting and around the vicinity of their pul- the vacant church seats. They are pits, by the ministers who fill them. open to applications from all parts of It is a mere question of moral and the town and neighbourhood, and spiritual tactics, which we are at pre- that, till very lately, without any preference given to the inhabitants of of them. But this is no reason why the parish.
the same thing should have been It is this, which, trifling as it máy done with Christianity. It is what appear, has struck with impotency all men need, but what few feel the our church establishment in towns, need of; and, therefore it is, that, and brought it down from the high under our present arrangement in 'vantage ground it might else have oc- towns, there are many thousands who cupied. In this way each church is will never move towards it, but where made to operate, by a mere process of still it is in our power to reclaim and attraction, over an immense field, in- to engage, did we obtrude it upon stead of operating, by a process of e
them. We cannot think of a more manation, on a distinct and manage- effectual device, by which to send a able portion of it. With the excep- reaching and a pervading influence to tion of his civil immunities, and his this sedentary part of our population, civil duties, which last form a heavy than by binding one church, with one deduction from his usefulness, there minister, to one locality. Under the remains nothing to signalise an esta- opposite, and, unfortunately, the acblished over a dissenting minister, tual system, the result, that is now though the capabilities of his office visibly before us, was quite unavoidought to give him the very advanc able. All the activity of dissenters, tage which a local has over a general aided by the established church, Sabbath school. That which, in ar- whose activity and influence have gument, forms the main strength of been, in fact, reduced to that of disour establishment, has, in practice, senters, could not have prevented it. been so utterly disregarded, as, in It is not mere Sabbath preaching that fact, to have brought every city of will retain, or, far less, recal a people our land under a mere system of dis- to the ordinances of Christianity. It senterism. It is not of the powerful is not even this preaching, seconded influence of dissenters that we com- by the most strenuous week-day atplain. It is of the feeble influence of tentions, to hearers lying thinly and their system. It is not that they are confusedly scattered over a wide and become so like unto us, as to have fatiguing territory. With such a bare gained ground upon the establish- and general superintendence as this, ment. It is, that we have become so many are the families that will fall like unto them, as both of us to have out of notice; and there will be the lost ground on the general population. breaking out of many intermediate Locality, in truth, is the secret prin- spaces, in which there must grow'and ciple wherein our great strength lieth ; gather, every year, a wider alienation and our enemies could not have de- from all the habits of a country pavised more effectual means of prevail- rish; and the minister, occupied with ing against us, in order to bind us his extra-parochial congregation, will and to afflict us, than just to dissever be bereft of all his natural influence this principle from our establishment. over a locality which is but nominally Our city rulers, without the mischiev- his. The reciprocal influence of his ous intent, have inflicted upon us the Sabbath and week-day ministrations mischievous operation of Delilah ; and on each other, is entirely lost under since we are asked, why it is that, such an arrangement. The truth is, with all the strength and superiority that, let him move through his parish, which we assign to an establishment, he may not find so much as å hunwe put forth so powerless an arm on dred hearers within its limits, out of the general community-we reply, more than ten times that number who that it is, because, under this opera
him. And, conversely, tion, our strength has gone from us, however urgent might be the demand and we have become weak, and are in his parish for room in his church, like unto other men.
which, under the existing practice, it It is well enough, that every arti- is not likely to be, he has not that cle of ordinary sale is to be had in room that is already in foreign occustationary shops, for the general and pation, to bestow upon them. A paindiscriminate use of the public at rochial congregation would have, at large ; for all who need such articles, the very outset, throned him in such also feel their need, and have a mov- a moral ascendancy over his district ing force in themselves to go in quest of the town, as the assiduities of a
whole life will not be able to earn to them. It was thought that a regular for him. But, as the matter stands, evening sermon might be instituted in he is quite on a level, in respect of this chapel, and that for the induceinfluence, with his dissenting bre- ment of a seat-rent so moderate as thren: and the whole machinery of from 6d. to Is. 6d. a-year, to each inan establishment, in respect of its dividual, many who attended no where most powerful and peculiar bearings through the day, might be prevailed upon the people, is virtually dissolved. upon to become the regular attendants On the system of each minister feed- of such a congregation. The sermon ing his church from his parieh, he was preached, not by one stated micould not only have crowded his own nister, but by a succession of such place of worship, but stirred up such ministers as could be found; and as an effective demand for more accom- variety is one of the charms of a pubmodation, as might have caused the lic exhibition, this also might have number of churches and the number been thought a favourable circumof people to keep in nearer proportion stance. But besides, there were gento each other. But, under the para- tlemen who introduced the arrangelyzing influence of the present sys- ment to the notice of the people, not tem, it is not to be wondered at, that merely by acting as their informants, the urgency for seats should have but by going round among them with fallen so greatly in the rear of the in- the offer of sittings, and, in order to creasing rate of population ; and that remove every objection on the score the habit of attendance on any place of inability, they were authorised to of religious
instruction whatever, offer seats gratuitously to those who should have gone so wofully into des were unable to pay for them. Had suetude and that the feeble opera- the experiment succeeded, it would tion of waiting a demand, instead of have been indeed the proudest and stimulating, should be so incompetent most pacific of all victories. But it is to reclaim this habit; and that the greatly easier to make war against the labouring classes in towns, should have physical resistance of a people, than to thus become so generally alienated make war against the resistance of an from the religious establishment of established moral habit. And, acthe landmand, what is greatly worsecordingly, out of the 1500 seats that than the desertion of establishments, were offered, not above 50 were let or that a fearful majority should be now accepted by those who had before been forming, and likely to increase every total non-attendants on religious woryear, who are not merely away from ship; and then about 150 more were all churches, but so far away, as to let, not, however, to those whom it be beyond the supplementary opera- was wanted to reclaim, but to those tion of all meeting-houses a majori- who already went to church through ty that is fast thickening upon our the day, and in whom the taste for hands, and who will be sure to return church-going had been already formall the disorders of week-day profliga- ed. And so the matter moved on, cy upon the country, because that heavily and languidly, for some time, country has, in fact, abandoned them till, in six months after the comto the ever-plying incitements and mencement of the scheme, in Septemopportunities of Sabbath profanation. ber 1817, it was finally abandoned. pp. 104-109.
There were several ingredients of An experiment may often be as in- success, however, wanting to this exstructive by its failure, as by its suc- periment. There was no such reite
We have here to record the fate ration of one minister, as would ripen of a most laudable endeavour, made into familiarity or friendship between to recal a people alienated from Chris- him and his hearers. There was no tian ordinances, to the habit of at- reciprocity of operation, between the tendance upon them. The scene of duties of the Sabbath, and the duties this enterprise was Calton and Bridge of the week. The most aggressive ton--two suburb districts of Glasgow part of a minister's influence upon the which lie contiguous to each other, people, lies in his being frequently abearing together, a population of as mongst them; the recognised indivibove 29,000, and with only one cha- dual, whose presence is looked for at pel of ease for the whole provision their funerals, and who baptizes their which the establishment has rendered children, and who attends their sick
beds, and who goes round amongst in the name of one individual, instead them in courses of religious visitation. of their being let by threes and fours There was nothing of all this in the in the name of the head or represenexperiment; nor were the Christian tative of a family; for, in this latter philanthropists who did go forth upon case, they may pass from one member the population, so firmly embodied of it to another, and, perhaps, descend under one head, or so strictly and of- to its next and its succeeding generaficially attached to one locality, as fair- tions. The object of this last reguly to represent the operation of a stat- lation is, to secure a more rapid and ed minister, and, where possible, a abundant falling in of extra-parochial residing eldership. Above all, in so vacancies, which should be rigidly and wide and dispersed a locality in ques- unviolably offered to parishioners from tion, it was not by the marvellous do- one year to another, as they occur. ings of one year, that a great or visi- Under such a constitution, there may, ble change in the habits of the people at the outset of every new church, be ought to have been expected. The but a small proportion of parishioners descent of more than half a century attending it; but, with the removal will not be so easily or so speedily re- or the dying off of extra-parochial covered. Such an achievement as hearers, there will be a certain numthis can never be done without la- ber of vacancies to dispose among bour, and without the perseverance of them annually. Meanwhile, the inmen, willing to plod and to pioneer terest of the minister, in his new patheir way through the difficulties of a rish, will be gradually extending, and, whole generation.
with very ordinary attention on his This inay serve to guide our anti- part, may so keep pace with the discipations respecting the probable ef- appearance and decay of the exotics fect of new churches, built in places among his congregation, as will enaof the most crowded and unprovided ble him to replace them by parish appopulation. A given territory ought, plicants; and thus in the process of by all means, to be assigned to each time, will a home be substituted in of them; and, in letting the seats, a the place of a mixed congregation. It preference should be held out to the were laying an impossibility upon a residents upon that territory. But clergyman, at once to call in from a we should not be sanguine in our yet unbroken field, fifteen hundred hopes, of the preference being, to any ready and willing attendants upon great extent, actually taken by them his ministrations. But this, without in the first instance; and this, if the any colossal energy at all, he might cause be not adverted to or counted do at the rate of fifty in the year. So on, may, for a time, damp and dis- that though he begins himself with a courage the whole speculation. On mixed auditory made out of hearers our first entrance upon new ground, from all the parishes of the city, there we must consider that there is a mi- may be such a silent process of subnority already in possession of sittings stitution going forward during the elsewhere, and that, nearly up to the course of his incumbency, as shall existing taste for church-going; and enable him to transmit to his succesthat there is a majority in whom that sor an almost entirely parochial contaste must be formed and inspired, gregation. ere the church can be recruited out This is the way, in fact, in which of their numbers. A congregation, all our existing congregations might out of these, may be looked for in be at length parochialised. It should time, as the fruit and the reward of be done by an enactment of gradual perseverance; but it cannot be looked operation. Were they now broken for immediately. The best rule of up, for the purpose of being new-moseat-letting, in these circumstances, delled, and that instantly on the local is, to hold out a preference, in the principle, there would be violence first instance, to the inhabitants of done to the feelings of many an indithe new parish, and then, in as far as vidual. But, what is more, it would that preference is not taken, to expose also be found, that, after the disperthe remaining seats to the applications sion of our mixed congregations, there of the general public. It is of im- would be a very inadequate number portance, however, that each of the of applicants in the poorer parishes extra-parochial sitiings should be let ready to take the places which had thus been dispossessed. It is much occasional Sabbath evening with the better if the existing arrangement can people, without any week-day movebe righted without the soreness of any ment amongst them all. But is there forced or unnatural separations, and not a greater likelihood of success, in such a way as that no actual sitter when the same attempt is made by can, on his own account, personally one minister in his own parish, in complain of it. Though he retain his conjunction, perhaps, with an assistright of occupation till death, the sub- ant equally bound to its locality with stitution of a home for a foreign con himself? And what the influence of gregation will yet go on, and as rapid- a few private philanthropists, going ly, perhaps, as the parochial demand forth on so wide and populous a disa for seats can be stimulated. So that trict as the one we are alluding to, the sure result will at length be arrive could not accomplish by a transient ed at, of the parish and congregation effort, may at length be accomplished being brought within the limits of by persevering and reiterated efforts one influence, and reduced to the sim- on the part of an official body, raised, plicity of one management.
perhaps, into existence for the very There is a philanthropy more sanc object of calling out a parochial conguine than it is solid, which, impa- gregation, and animated with a sense tient of delay, would think an opera- of the importance of achieving it. tion so tardy as this unworthy of be- Even with all these advantages, the ing suggested, and refuse to wait for strenuousness of an encounter with it. But it is the property of sound previous and established habits will legislation to look to distant results as be felt, an encounter which will rewell as to near ones
to be satisfied quire to be as assiduously met by mowith impressing a sure movement, ral suasion through the week as by though it should be a slow one-nor preaching on the Sabbath. At the does the wisdom of man ever make a same time, it is a very great mistake higher exhibition, than when apart to think that any other peculiar power from the impulse of a result that is is necessary for such an operation, either speedy or splendid, she calmly than peculiar pains-taking. It is not institutes an arrangement, the coming with rare and extraordinary talent benefit of which will not be fully conferred upon a few, but with harealized till after the lapse of our ex- bits and principles which may be culisting generation.
tivated by all, that are linked our best But it is not enough that the de- securities for the reformation of the mand of each parish for seats should world. This is a work which will be stimulated up to the extent of its mainly be done with every-day instrupresent accommodation. The truth ments operating upon every-day mais, that all our large towns have so terials; and more, too, by the multifar outgrown the church establish- plication of labourers, than by the ment, that, though each church were gigantic labour of a small number of crowded, and with local congregations individuals
. The arrangement now too, and each meeting-house already suggested may exemplify this. Let in existence were also filled to an over- a Sabbath evening sermon be preachflow, there would still be a fearful ed in the church of a city parish to a body of the people in the condition of parochial congregation, distinct from outcasts from the ordinances of Christ, the day-hearers altogether. Let a ianity. The mere erection of addi- moderate seat-rent be exacted, and a tional fabrics will do nothing to re- preference for these seats be held out medy this, without an operation on to those in the locality, who have sitthe people who should fill them. It tings no where else. Some care and must be admitted, that the Calton ex- some perseverence will be necessary periment looks rather discouraging. to ensure the success of such an enBut still we think that certain ad- terprise. But there is nothing iinverse ingredients may be removed practicable about it, and no such imfrom it, and certain favourable ingre- pediments in the way of its execudients be substituted in its place. It tion, as to stamp upon it the least de was really not to be expected that gree of a visionary character. There much could be done by an indefinite need be no additional labour to the number of ministers, who each had minister, who may, in fact, take full the transient intercourse of a rare and relief to himself from an assistant.