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intelligence and sagacity even to well-educated dogs and horses. The working classes in this country, even skilled workmen, living in towns, and earning much better wages than the majority of curates, are often so deplorably ignorant that they do not want education and cannot be persuaded to take it. Notwithstanding the moderate success of the Working Men's College, it is a notorious fact that nothing is more difficult than to form a class of working men for improvement in any department of education whatever. At least there is only one thing that is more difficult, and that is to keep the class together when it is formed. Nor are the morals of this class very conspicuously in advance of their intelligence. Those who know them best will never refuse to testify that there is often to be found among them the very noblest virtues ; and especially a quiet unobtrusive unselfishness, which is by no means common among the higher and middle classes. But after all, which class does really furnish the greatest number and the largest proportion of drunkards and thieves ? It is very seldom indeed that any large prison is without born gentlemen among its inmates ; but nobody who has visited prisons can doubt for a moment that these are a very small minority. It would be strange, indeed, if it were otherwise; and if education, and rank, and political privileges, had wrought no good whatever for those who had enjoyed them. Mr. Mill has no mean distrust of the great majority of his countrymen; he would give them, without hesitation, political privileges which even those who pet and flatter their social inferiors would consider almost revolutionary. And yet he never fails to teach that scarcely any tyranny can be greater or more mischievous, than the tyranny of a numerical majority; governing and tyrannizing simply because it is a majority.
It is to the proof of this very fact, that a large portion of his essay on Liberty is devoted ; an essay which can be ranked only with the very noblest monuments of English style and thought, and practical sagacity. Milton's “Areopagitica” was, indeed, a marvel, both in beauty and wisdom; far in advance of his age, and it may safely be said, far in advance of ours. He knew and he taught, fortifying his teaching with all the most indisputable lessons of history, that there is no danger to Truth so terrible as those very defences by which her foolish and distrustful friends are continually surrounding her. “The Temple of Janus,” he says, " with his two controversial faces might now not insignificantly be set open. And though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously by licensing and prohibiting to misdoubt her strength. Let her and falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter. Her confuting is the best
and surest suppressing. ... For who knows not that Truth is strong next to the Almighty ; she needs no policies, nor stratagems, nor licensings to make her victorious; those are the shifts and defences that Error uses against her power; give her but room and do not bind her when she sleeps, for then she speaks not true, as the old Proteus did, who spoke oracles only when he was caught and bound, but then rather she turns herself into all shapes, except her own, and, perhaps, tunes her voice according to the time, as Micaiah did before Ahab, until she be adjured into her own likeness.” And yet even Milton was not able to rise entirely above the narrowness of his own times. “I mean not, tolerated Popery, and open superstition," he says, “which as it extirpates all religious and civil supremacies, so itself should be extirpate, provided first that all charitable and compassionate means be used to win and regain the weak and misled; that also which is impious or evil absolutely either against faith or manners, no law can possibly permit, that intends not to unlaw itself.” Mr. Mill has passed far beyond these artificial, and in practice, impossible limits. For surely the most important subjects are precisely those which need and which can bear the utmost amount of liberty. The facts and truths which lie at the foundation of religion and civil society may be discussed more safely than any others; because, from their very nature, they are proved by the greatest number and the most varied kinds of evidences. They, moreover, need to be discussed more than any other facts and truths, because they are fundamental ; because on the one hand we cannot afford to dispense with solid foundations, and on the other we shall come to hopeless ruin if we build on rotten ones. Only shallow minds care to be busied with the petty details even of the most vexatious abuses or mischievous errors. All true reformers understand full well that the axe is laid to the root of the tree; they, therefore, attack and are compelled to attack those errors which are considered most sacred—those consecrated mistakes which are deemed essential to religious and political faith. It is not necessary for the firm belief of truth that it should have been denied, or even that it should have been doubted ; but it is necessary that everybody should have had full permission to doubt if he saw reason to doubt, and even to deny if he found it impossible to believe. No one can be persuaded that those objections can be answered, which interested parties will not permit even to be heard. Perfect freedom and the freest possible discussion is the only guarantee of truth for that large majority of mankind who must ever receive the most numerous and the most important facts and doctrines that they believe at secondhand. In a word, liberty is far more necessary for truth than it is for error.
Mr. J. S. Mill's Political Economy is very far indeed from being such an exhibition of selfishness and greediness as a certain set of very well-meaning people imagine all political economy must necessarily be. Political economists, as such, are not bound to show what may be the best use that a man may make of wealth, but only to show what are the best means of obtaining it, and what are the invariable laws by which its production and distribution are determined. It is at any rate plain that no one can give money away who has no money to give; that wealth of any kind inust be produced before it can be distributed. But when benevolent people want to know how even to give away their money to the best advantage, political economists can give them very wisc advice. Money, or rather wealth, may be employed for the benefit of the poor, so that in the very act of benefiting them it shall not be destroyed, but reproduced, and even augmented. Surely the benevolent man would do wisely to give his money away in that manner, instead of so employing it that it shall be destroyed by a single use. A man who wished to part with ten thousand pounds, not for his own profit, but every penny of it for the good of his poorer neighbours, might give to a thousand of them ten pounds a piece. In that case the whole amount would, probably, be spent, absolutely and for ever gone, before the end of a month. On the other hand, he might appropriate this money to the employment of work-people, who should be engaged in some productive labour; in that case his wealth would change its form, and would, in a certain sense, be destroyed. His work-people would actually consume the food necessary for their support, and precisely that food could never be recovered; but while they were consuming it, they would be producing what was equivalent to more. So that with wise and careful management the ten thousand pounds would never be lost at all, but would be the beginning of an ever-increasing fund, which the benevolent man might continually apply for the benefit of an increasing number of his poorer neighbours. In a state of society so artificial as ours, there is, of course, an enormous amount of misery, which can never be reached by such systematic benevolence as this; even street-beggars, though almost always imposters, and commonly thieves, can never be permitted, without the demoralization of a people, to die of starvation at the doors of the rich. And when good people yield to the impulse of their generosity, and afford relief to the undeserving and unproductive classes, such political economists as Mr. J. S. Mill are as ready as Mr. Ruskin himself to acknowledge that it is far more terrible for a man to lose the kindness of his heart than to miss a fortune.
There is much else of the utmost importance to the people, for whom this cheap edition of Mr. J. S. Mill's is intended, which cannot be even mentioned in so short a paper as this. Especially would it have been profitable to examine what Mr. Mill teaches about the laws which regulate wages. There is scarcely any subject about which political economists and ministers of religion are more completely and universally at variance than the marriage of the poor. It cannot be denied, especially in the extreme poverty and miserable homes of great multitudes of the working classes, that late marriages are connected with those offences against chastity, which every good man will do his best to prevent or remove. But it may be doubted whether even offences against chastity, of the kind most prevalent among the poor, are more demoralizing than many other effects of extreme poverty, or than all the other effects of extreme poverty put together. The question is far too grave for cursory discussion here; but it is a question that lies very near to the root of all wise schemes for elevating those who are lowest.
The works of Mr. John Stuart Mill are very far removed from the nature of treatises on Christian doctrine; and there may be passages in them which seem to indicate that some of the commonly-received doctrines of Christianity he would probably reject. But, at any rate, he is loyal, everywhere and always, with the loyalty of his whole heart, to truth. There is scarcely a virtue that our age is so deeply in need of as this love of truth. And surely he who has that cannot be far from the kingdom of heaven. “My kingdom,” said Jesus Christ, “is not of this world. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Everyone that is of the truth heareth my voice.”
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CHURCHES AND LOCAL “SYNODS."
ARE LOCAL SYNODS IN CONNECTION WITH OUR CHURCHES
This is the question for us to consider. It is an important question in every respect—in its bearing on the ministry, in its relation to the Church, and as regards the extension of Christ's kingdom in the world. We need earnest prayer as well as caution in discussing the subject. Not that we are likely to settle the point, but our consideration of it may aid in giving us correct views, and so others through us may be led to a sound Scriptural opinion of the inquiry, “ Are Local Synods in connection with our churches desirable ?" Before expressing my own view it will be well to notice what a synod is. Putting together all the definitions of the word and the descriptions of the thing itself to which I have had access, it appears to me that a synod is an assembly of ministers and laymen delegated by the churches to represent them—the work of a local synod would be to deliberate on the state of religion in the locality; to devise means for sending the Gospel where it was not already made known; to stimulate the Churches of the district to the exercise of prayer, zeal, and love; to advise churches, ministers, or deacons on any matter of difficulty, and to arbitrate in any case of dispute between sections of the Church, between ministers and deacons, between minister and church, or between neighbouring churches of the same faith and order. I state these points more by way of suggestion, and in order to give us something like an idea of what may be meant by the term “Local Synod,” than as a full and proper description of the structure and sphere of action of such an assembly. If we may regard a Local Synod as so organized and empowered, I would say, at once and unhesitatingly, that such synods are desirable in connection with our Churches. My reasons for answering the question so decidedly in the affirmative are
(1). Such synods appear to have been in existence in Apostolic times. There were, no, doubt, several communities of Christians in Jerusalem (Acts, ii. 41; iv. xxi. 20), and at Roine (Rom. i. 8), and these communities in each city seem to have been all united together under one rule or management. In my opinion each branch of the one Church in that city was represented in the deliberative assemblies, to which were remitted all the more