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farm in Ireland rented at a higher rent because of the tithe to which it is subject ? And who are the farmers of Ireland ? Are they Protestants or Roman Catholics ? And is not every quarter of wheat dearer because of the higher rent of the farms ? Who are the bread and potato eaters of Ireland ? who, in other words, are the poor? Are they Churchmen or Roman Catholics ? Church defenders, if they can really believe their own arguments, require to take lessons in common sense as well as in political economy.
CHURCH AND DISSENT.-NEXT DUTIES..
EVERY reader of contemporary ecclesiastical literature, and especially of Church literature, must have been struck with the recently altered tone of eminent Churchmen towards Nonconformists. We suppose that there is a certain amount of gall in all bodies, and that it is impossible for any man, not of the exceptional constitution of Mr. Roebuck, to keep on all his life pouring forth venom. Even a hangman must get tired of his work, and the muscles of a public executioner must get relaxed. Excited by the affected discovery of the ultimate designs of the Liberation Society, and the faithful rebuke of the ecclesiastical descendants of the Puritans of 1662, the leaders of the Church, for three or four years, seemed never to tire of their abuse of Nonconformists. The old terms of infidels, schismatics, rebels, and democrats, were revived and launched with unwonted vigour at the devoted heads of the representatives of the Free Churches of England. At the same time the Church brought into play the whole of the reserved strength of that political party of which it is the natural ally, and with its aid defeated all the public measures which had been brought forward to extend the ecclesiastical rights of Free Churchmen. There they stopped, satisfied apparently with their work, and loudly boasting of their success.
And now we unquestionably see a change, at least we think so. Whether it is that the more far-sighted men in the Establishment feel that they have brought their Church into disgrace with the world by so constantly identifying it with intolerance, and that the more Christian men feel that there is a better supremacy than that of law-namely, of faith and good works, we cannot tell, but the signs of the change are very conspicuous. The Bishop of London is quick to recognise the
great work which Dissenters have accomplished in the metropolis; the Bishop of Winchester pays them an equally honourable recognition; and even the Bishop of Oxford withdraws or explains away his comparison of Dissenting places of worship with beer-shops, and, in doing so, expresses his perfect inability to insuit such conscientious men as the Nonconformists of England. In political matters the same spirit is shown. The Guardian has come to look with equanimity on the proposal to open the universities to Nonconformists. The Clerical Journal . has enlarged on the subjective evils of the church-rate system, and avowed its anxiety for the relief of Dissenters, while Sir John Pakington has fought, on public platforms, for the rights of conscience of the children of Nonconformist parents in the State-aided day schools. The bill for the abolition of tests in Oxford University is a measure drawn up and supported by some of the most earnest Churchmen of the day who, as we know, privately say what we have reason to believe they will also soon express in public, that the Churchman has no rights which the Nonconformist ought not to possess, and who, as Churchmen and patriots, are prepared to fight the battle of religious equality side by side with the leaders of what is termed the advanced section of Nonconformity.
Something of this improved feeling is due to an improved mutual acquaintance. It is no secret that the odious social barriers which have for the last forty years separated Churchmen from Dissenters have recently been broken down. The beginning of this righteous work is to be traced, we believe, to the presence of Mr. Miall on the Education Commission. Last year the same gentleman, with a few other representatives of the Nonconformist party in London, met some hundred or more of the leading men of the Oxford and Cambridge Universities, when the basis of an agitation for university rights was agreed upon. Since then more private meetings have taken place, and Lord Ebury, Lord Amberley, Dean Stanley, and other well-known Churchmen have discussed Church and Nonconformist politics at the dinner-table with such gentlemen as Dr. Vaughan, Mr. Miall, and Mr. Morley, The practical result of such meetings no one can tell, but this is certain, that there now exists in the minds, and, better,-in the hearts, of some, at least, of the noblest Christians in the Church Establishment, a desire to do justice to the members of the Free Churches. Both parties have met face to face, and seen something of each other's best qualities. They have found, we hope, that the same heart beats in each with the same emotions towards God and towards their native land. Churchmen have seen that some Nonconformists are scholars and gentlemen, and the Nonconformists have seen that some Churchmen have more
regard to right and justice than they have to a coarse ecclesiastical supremacy.
Nor this only. There are Churchmen who, without any personal knowledge of Dissenters, are being drawn towards Dissenting principles. The recent charge of the Bishop of Capetown is mainly an elaborate exposition and defence of the fundamental principle of the “ Liberation Society," as applied to the condition of Colonial Churches. The speculations and desires of the Bishop are, by the recent judgment of the Privy Council on the Colenso case, declared to be the facts of that condition, and the Colonial Churches--all at least which are not established by special acts either of Imperial or of Colonial Legislatures-declared to be free from State control. No less a man than Dr. Pusey has since come forward to express his unbounded gratification at this decision, and his rejoicing acceptance of it with all its consequences. In this party the desire for freedom surpasses that of supremacy, and they will surrender, thankfully, their useless and odious privileges for the common Christian rights of their sister Free Churches.
The especial duties arising out of this remarkable change in large sections of the Church are clear. We now hold our principles with a greater responsibility to our generation than we have ever held them. We are the recognised leaders in the vanguard of Christian freedom. Let us behave not as fools, but as wise men. Let us sink our own miserable sectional differences, and advance, shoulder to shoulder, in this great and impending struggle, striving most who shall most faithfully reflect the spirit of his Master and the influence of his convictions. If our principles are worth anything, they ought to make us better men than those around us, and the Churchmen with whom we may come into contact should see and feel that this is their actual influence. There must be no surrender of one of our old demands, but those demands must be made, if firmly, yet with a masterful and religious courtesy. The weapons of our warfare are spiritual, not carnal, and we may leave all religious swearing to the Record and its adherents.
There are two events now approaching, when the eyes of Churchmen will be drawn towards us. The first of these is the Triennial Conference of the “Liberation Society” in May, and the second, the General Election in July. We hope that the Conference in question will be attended by the best men of the best of the Free Churches in the three kingdoms, and that all sections of Dissent will there be represented. The usual constituents of these remarkable gatherings have commonly been considered as belonging to a “clique" amongst Nonconformists. The term, however, in this instance, has been a reproach only to those who have used it. The doors of these conferences are thrown open to all who may choose to enter them. If people have chosen not to enter them, they have no right to complain of what has been done by those who have entered. We should like to see, at the next meeting, the spirituality, the moral power, and the intellect of the Free Churches of England fully and fairly represented, and to know that the representatives have been sent to do their work because it is the work of their Master.
The electoral duty will follow upon this. We sum it up in one sentence to send respectable men to Parliament. How a measure of justice to Dissenters ever passes the House of Commons we have never been able to understand. Excepting Mr. Hadfield, whose untiring activity and earnestness compensate for his want of debating power, the Nonconformist members seem to think that they were sent into Parliament to keep their mouths shut respecting their principles. We need not mention names, for if we were to do so we should mention all that we know. There is only one gentleman living who can put our convictions before the country in a manner that will command a respect both for his intellect and his character, such as is accorded to the highest statesman. That man is not in the House of Commons. For all the good that our present members do, we could gladly spare them and twice their number, if Mr. Miall were returned at the next general election to Parliament. We should then have the man who could represent what no other man can do—the highest thought, culture, character, and principle of the Nonconformists of England.
When we have said this, we have only, after all, said that we should hold our principles as part of the life of our soul, and that we should serve them both willingly and faithfully, and this always, as well as now, our Next Duty.
SHORT NOTICES OF BOOKS.
The Impending Woes of Europe. We are not, however, prepared
London: Elliot Stock. to assert, as many do, that the That the Word of God contains prophetical field of inquiry is for. in its prophecies the future and bidden ground, and we are therestill undeveloped history of the fore always willing to listen to any world, no true believer doubts; man who thoughtfully and mobut it may fairly be questioned destly presents his solution to our whether any man ever did, or judgment. Our patience ends does now possess the key which only where dogmatism begins. is to unlock the hidden mysteries. The pamphlet before us is one of
the sort we gladly accept. It is part of a proposed larger worka work which is temporarily at least said aside through the illness of the author. We do not feel called upon to discuss the views brought forward, but we simply say that those views are interesting partly because they differ from those most commonly accepted, and partly, too, because they are propounded with much devout thankfulness and plausi. bility. The prophetic outline of future events is specially interest. ing in connection with the present state of the civilized world. Students of prophecy will find pleasure in reading the present publication. The Liberator for 1864. Lon
don : Houlston & Wright. We presume that there are very few readers of the CHRISTIAN SPECTATOR who are not well acquainted with the working of the “Liberation Society.” It is not, there fore, for their sakes that we give & word of notice to the volume before us. Will they, however, kindly take a little advice from us and do what they can to introduce the monthly journal of the society to the notice of any persons who, through ill - founded prejudice, stand aloof? That members of the Establishment should look apon the “Liberation Society" as the incarnation of all profanity we can understand ; but there are large numbers of persons who, whilst heartily disapproving of the connection between Church and State, nevertheless do look upon the Society with disfavour because, they say, of the spirit in which it performs its operations. To such persons we would say: “Take this volume and read it carefully, and then say whether or not you have any real ground for your
objection.” For our part, we honestly confess that we admire the self-constraint and quiet dig. nity noticeable throughout the volume, which contrasts very favourably with many religious publications not pledged to so trying and exciting a warfare. Lessons for Maidens, Wives, and
Mothers. By W. LANDELS, of
1865. Those who talk most loudly of “ Woman's Rights” and “Woman's Mission, are not her real friends. While professing to elevate her to a position not justly hers, they do but unfit her for the noble work she has to do, and degrade her from her rightful place. Very different is the teaching of Mr. Landels' book. He evidently believes in woman, but in a way that all true women will appreciate, deeming her most worthy of honour, when filling well her proper sphere.
The title of Mr. Landels' work is fully borne out in its contents. Taking some of the most promi. nent women in the Old and New Testaments as types of women, in our own country and our own time, the author has brought out their characters with an intuitive perception of feminine motive and feeling almost marvellous, and with such well defined distinctness, that we seem to see their faults and appreciate their virtues as we never did before. Whether the “ Virtuous Wife," described by a king whose faith in women was slight indeed, or Dorcas, the philanthropist, or the little cap.. tive maiden, or Phoebe, the commended of Paul, be the subject of discourse, Mr. Landels not only