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prayer which is not inconsistent with the directions in the canon. And surely in such a matter it is more consistent with Christian simplicity, and more for edification, to adhere to a sound method of practice, which has for so many years been sanctioned by the example of the bishops and pastors of our church (even if it be not precisely prescribed in the rubric) than to revive an obsolete one, which would on its first adoption perplex our congregations, and look like the affectation of singularity.
As to the use of the Lord's Prayer before sermon, I confess I should deeply regret a change in our practice. It is the peculiarity of that prayer to present itself with a freshness of interest on every repetition, to à devotional mind. And its introduction before the sermon is in a new connexion, with a special reference to the manifestation of our Heavenly Father's glory, the advance of his kingdom, and the furthering of his will, by this appointed ordinance of preaching: the blessings, too, which we ask for ourselves in that prayer, we then especially desire to receive by means of the following sermon. But I do not wish to enlarge.
N. N. N.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. Although it ill becomes such as aspire to the name of Christians, to bandy between each other the language of compliment, I take leave to express my satisfaction on finding that you have entered upon the subject of Church Reform ; and have commenced, with moderation, seriousness, and promise of firm resolve, a systematic examination of things as they are; with a view, not to the subversion, but renovation or improvement of our entire ecclesiastical polity. As this is a subject on which I feel much int sted, I request your candid insertion of the following communication, only premising that I shall not thereby consider either your readers or yourself committed to all my details and conclusions. I am fully aware that the conductors of periodical publications may frequently admit applicants for discussion, though they question the sobriety of some of their views.
It has long been one among many of my own painful convictions, as affecting the state of the Christian world, that various religious persons have acted against their principles on the subject of reform, both civil and sacred. They have, in fact, so far sided with a polluted world, in supporting such corrupt parts of otherwise excellent systems as bad men turn to their own purposes. It has, indeed, been asked, What have Christians to do with politics ? To which I answer, taking the question in its careless and vulgar sense, Nothing. On the other hand, to Christians, compelled as they are to dwell for a season in this lower state of existence, is appointed a very considerable portion of trial and duty as connected with their civil, relations ; subordinate, it is true, to things essentially spiritual, but not separable from them; since all duties and privileges are interwoven with each other, and in proportion as they are disjoined the duty is the worse performed and the privilege less enjoyed. He is the successful Christian who distinctly recognises his highest principles in his most secular affairs; who bears to his devotional retirements such a remembrance of those inferior concerns as causes him to see God in every thing, and, if so, to seek the Divine aid in whatever involves him in private, social, and public life. As to his share in politics, I cannot here understand that term in the extended and absorbing sense attached to it in common usage ; in which case it is only another name for the world. I discern, indeed, the difficulty of a satisfactory definition; and must content myself by saying, that politics, in a Christian dictionary, may generally mean whatever public question is directly brought before us, and concerning which we are called upon, by the circumstances of our station in society, to form an opinion, and upon this opinion to act. There are still a thousand subjects, and of pressing moment, on which we may be incompetent to form the shadow of a judgment. If, for example, government be busy about such things as the Bank and East-India Company's charters, and if we are ignorant of the very alphabet of political economy, it is plainly our duty to observe the proceedings of the legislature in silence. But if we are directly concerned in the result, another line of duty opens. We must study the science; or, at least, gain from competent advisers the necessary measure of knowledge. At the last renewal of the East-India Company's charter, the Christian part of the community, without concerning themselves with the commercial part of the question, acted wisely and successfully in that which related to the increase of facilities for missionary operations. And so of other questions.—There are a thousand points where a serious mind can be embarrassed by no hesitation. Acts of government for the suppression of duelling, perjury, gaming, intemperance, and commercial fraud, receive at once the concurrence of every Christian patriot. He may
have doubts, of various degrees, as to their efficacy, and may wish to strengthen their influence ; but the principle is owned at once. Now, under all these circumstances a British Christian is actually made a politician, by the institutions of his country.
It is no wish of mine, sir, to toss religious persons into incessant and snarling loquaciousness about schedules A and B; neither into angry disputes about the revenues of Durham and Winchester ; but my deliberate opinion is, that the very profession of piety imposes the obligation of supporting the cause of real reform-keeping open the question of what is such-in all ways. We transport a poor man who, with a starving and naked wife and family, steals five bushels of wheat—and I, for one, heartily adopt the motto of currat lex; but if we allow a gentleman to buy a borough-I speak of facts—in order to avoid the King's Bench, and resent any measure which tends to abolish this foul traffic, we have advanced further into the gnat-and-camel system than I will venture to describe. If we act upon the same principle of worldliness and self-interested policy in things ecclesiastical, and look shy and irritated at any proposal to destroy pluralities and sinecures, it may be well to ask ourselves how we can reconcile our perpetual preaching, writing, and talking against the love of sublunary things, against avarice, accumulation of silver and gold, display and ambition, with a wish to render ministers of the Gospel " founders of families,” and members of the aristocracy of wealth.
The principle of ecclesiastical reform in this country is not barely to restore to the church whatever it may have lost of spirituality and unworldliness since the Reformation; but to retire fifteen centuries yet backward, and assimilate the Establishment as far as may be to the primitive church; not that of such canonists as Collier, Bingham, and Wheatley, but of the genuine Apostolic age and its inspired records. And here, sir, I cannot coincide in your opinion * (in your Number for February, p. 67), that in
* Let our readers decide between us and our correspondent, who, though with the best intention, appears to us to carry some of his strictures beyond the bounds of sobriety. To reduce the visible pale of the Church of England to the ante-Constantine state, would be to have no church establishment at all; and it does not appear to us just, to argue from the example of times when there was no professedly Christian legislature in the world, when the existing governments were Pagan, and the followers of Christ, real or nominal, were small scattered bodies, to the circumstances of
the early days of the Reformed Church of England its “ external fabric stood nearly as it did before, and nearly such as it had descended from the first ages of Christianity;"neither do I think that the Anglican hierarchy was continued or modified by the real Reformers and Martyrs. The church of Christ knew nothing of alliance with the state, compulsory payments, cathedral officers, and the apparatus connected with establishments, till the days of Constantine, three hundred years after Christ. And as to such men as Hooper, Cranmer, Latimer, Ridley, Bradford, and Rogers, settling our Reformation, I fully believe that it was settled for them by a very different party. The truth was, that the world—this present evil world—which was very glad to see the downfall of Papal oppression effected by the fires of martyrdom, soon began to be jealous of the progress of the Gospel; and quickly saw that such progress, if unimpeded, would be attended with the loss of ecclesiastical grandeur and affluence. Cranmer thought, and his thoughts are on record, that, in the words of Bishop Turner, “ India does not want” (subaudi England did not want) “an expensive or gorgeous church establishment: a moderate present provision, with an assured means of retirement after a reasonable period of service, would secure the services of an efficient ministry *.
Your own view of our cathedrals most properly tends to make the lines of usefulness run parallel with expense. The Dean and Chapter of Durham have begun to act upon this principle, by alienating part of their revenues towards the establishment of a college. A late act of parliament authorizes a similar alienation for the augmentation of dependent livings. So far we are awakening from long and deep slumbers. But if the principle be allowed to work freely, and with the steady rapidity demanded by the pressure of circumstances, the final result will be, that no man will dream of making a fortune out of the treasury of the temple. It will be confessed, by those who have, sometimes unexpectedly, found themselves behind the scenes of the ecclesiastical stage, that men who knew better have committed the inconsistency of doing homage to Mammon, when clothed in spiritual drapery. Riches were declaimed against as dangerous, when gathered from the profits of a bank or manufactory; but appeared to have become a safe possession, if proceeding from fines and glebes. I may refine upon such things beyond the demands of the Gospel; but if this be an error, it is a curable one, although on the safe side. The Rev. William Richardson of York said, in familiar intercourse, “Woe be to the church, if religious clergymen find their way to its high dignities." The Rev. Henry Venn was accustomed to intimate, that rich evangelists seldom did any good. William Law strenuously defended the church; but keenly satirized pluralists. - All the three supposed, that the greatness of this world was none the less innocuous because it appeared in an ecclesiastical shape. On the contrary, human wisdom itself can say, Crescit sub pondere : virtus–Virescit vulnere virtus. It is safer to preach from velvet cushions, than be always reposing upon them; and to feed upon a hermit's fare, than to learn even the elements of gastronomy.
You have spoken, sir, loudly on the bill for methodizing pluralities; but you might have uttered thunders on such a subject, without deafening any sincere
the present day, when as a nation we profess and call ourselves Christians, and when public institutions have long existed among us for the perpetuation of the preaching of the word and the administration of the sacraments. But to argue the point with our correspondent, would be to go into the whole question of national ecclesiastical establishments, and we have said thus much only lest the spirit of ultraism should impede the cause of salutary and conservative reform. We might perhaps apply the same remark to some other of our respected correspondent's statements.
* No. for February, p. 67.
friend of the church. The legislature will not surely be so infatuated, as to pass such a bill, to sanction and perpetuate an evil, which has been mourned over for ages ; and not only condemned by religious persons, but blamed even by the general sense of mankind. “Oh, the value of Greek metres !” But are the framers of this measure aware, that they are exposing the whole bench of bishops to the invidious and ungracious task of deciding upon the claims of aspirants to pluralities? Can they not perceive, that they are sowing in the ecclesiastical soil a fresh crop of dragons' teeth ; that bishop and archbishop may be more embarrassed than ever by the conflicting pretensions of candidates for place? Add to this, the obvious consideration, that to give or increase the powers of irresponsibility in any department of government, is a new premium upon public disaffection. The church, above all places, should be kept pure from the appearances of evil. It has quite enough of odium and suspicion, and of the disposition to injustice and monopoly asserted to exist in its very constitution, to struggle with at the present darkening moment. Irresponsibility, as you, sir, have intimated, or the will-for-reason principle, is never tolerated in other things. Even at the Horse Guards, where the military system might be expected to be the most imperious department of the executive, no commander in chief is allowed to officer any branch of the service, or promote even a Waterloo warrior to the command of two regiments; and at the Admiralty, the powers of naval administration are as equally regulated. On the church is placed, and on the church only, a weight too heavy to be borne by the army and navy; and if the hierarchy can sustain this, without reeling and staggering to its fall, its strength has increased, exactly as a reed stiffens under the shock of a hurricane !
Into the dispute between the Rector of Oakenvale and Mr. Grainger, I shall not enter; as my object is, not to discuss the lawfulness or expediency of church establishments, but to investigate what a church already established needs, in order to its preservation and usefulness. Such a communion is bound, even in self-defence, to prove to its wavering friends, as well as to its confessed opponents, that it is prepared to make every reasonable sacrifice for purely spiritual objects. An inquiry now emerges in many circles where, five years since, no such murmuring was heard-What have the representatives of the clergy in the upper house of parliament done, collectively, for the cause of religion, during the last twenty years ? I do not say that those who are implicated in it may not be able to answer this question, so as to produce at least a reasonable apology for their conduct. Charity may well believe that despair of curing, or even palliating such evils as the world has long supported and made an essential part of its own system, may have been one cause of their silence. Mr. Wilberforce tells us, in his “ Practical View,” first published in 1797, that he was himself deterred from bringing the subject of duelling before parliament, because he feared that the very agitation of the matter would increase its malignity; and, indeed, act as a sanction to it. Such, in fact, was the case with an endeavour made a few years afterwards to prevent cruelty to animals; when an eminent statesman crushed the effort by openly defending bull-baiting and similar sports; and the patrons of these pastimes manifested their gratitude to their leader by calling their bull-dogs Windhams. Still, there is much in lifting up the voice against sin in the high places of the world. In 1782 the Rev. John Wesley wrote a letter to a nobleman in the cabinet of that day, respecting the design of Government to exercise the militia on a Sunday. He tells his lordship that a similar intention had been divulged about thirty years before; but that “ when the motion was like to pass, an old gentleman stood up and said, ' Mr. Speaker, I have one objection to this— I believe an old book called the Bible.' The members CHRIST. Ostav. No, 365,
looked at one another, and the motion was dropped.” How forcible are right words ! and what godly simplicity and energy of principle appeared to have characterized the short remonstrance which at once crushed even a cabinet scheme; and, I must add, what contrasts to this brief and calm appeal are such elaborate and tumultuous speeches as, in our own times, we have witnessed on platforms and elsewhere ostensibly for the cause of God! Surely our spiritual peers might have found since the general peace of Europe, and when God had given us a long breathing-time from the conyulsionary movements of war, many fit occasions for coming with the Scriptures in their hands, and have thus confessed Christ before men; and they would in no wise have lost their reward. On the 5th of July, 1799, Bishop Horsley, when pleading the cause of the enslaved Africans, said, "the Apostle St. Paul, my lords, in the first of his Epistles to Timothy:.” (here his lordship observed an opponent to smile, and called him to order :) “ my lords, the Bible is to be treated in this house with reverence. If I find occasion, in argument upon a subject like the present, to quote particular texts, any noble lord who may think proper to receive such quotations with a laugh must expect that I call him to order*.” I quote this for three purposes : first, to shew that it is no new thing for legislators to laugh at the Bible; secondly, that the Bible has been directly made the basis of argument on the episcopal bench ; and lastly, that the anti-slavery cause once had prelates among its most decided friends. The last inference too plainly reminds us of the apparent apathy which has marked the proceedings of too many of the hierarchy on this solemn question.
But let this pass. On the absorbing question of reform, civil and religious, it is no claim of mine to dictate to our ecclesiastical superiors; but allow a retired correspondent, who surveys the busier scenes of life at a distance, and far remote from your tumultuous metropolis, to suggest the necessity, as already intimated, on the part of great men, of shewing that ecclesiastical legislators are fully prepared to take their share in the public sacrifices. There seems to me to be, not merely among worldly politicians and ecclesiastics, who avow themselves to be under the guidance of self-interest, but among some men of high religious profession, a hard and settled determination not to yield an inch, even to the most cautious and self-diffident friends of improvement. How serious Christians, if such they are, can exhibit this temper, when they are incessantly talking of man's natural tendency to descend in the scale of sin, and when all history may be summed up in the acknowledged and ever-existing fact that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, is a paradox which may long wait for explanation. Man individually, and man in the aggregate, must always need renovation. Churches become corrupt, although martyrs and confessors may have founded them, and laid the first courses deep on the Chief Corner Stone. It is not the foundation which sinks, neither any portion of the edifice securely resting upon it; but the additions made by future builders, framed of perishable materials, and ill combined with the original structure. All that a wise Christian wishes to do in any communion, is to maintain inviolable whatever it possesses of the everlasting Gospel; and to cut off occasion of evil by removing from it all needless secularities and matters of dubious importance.
• Speeches in Parliament, published by Rev. Henage Horsley. Dundee. 1813.