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is insufficient for the spiritual growth of that which is to“foll The forms and ceremonies which to-day, being relative to us, enable us to experience and express our religious faith and wors to-morrow become inadequate and a hindrance. Hence the losophy of the successive Revelations of the Divine will. Mosaic followed upon the Patriarchial; the Prophetic supplemer the Mosaic; and then the Mosaic gave place to the Christian. I was necessary in its place, but, having given birth to its successo was necessary that it should perish. “For there is verily a disanı ing of the commandment going before, for the weakness and un fitableness thereof." Hence, too, the successive revelations in hu experience. Roman Catholicism was a sad unmeaning piece of monialism, but it was a great advance everywhere upon the hea rites which it superseded. Established Protestantism (if sur thing be possible) is now, to many of us, little better than a v Roman Catholicism ; but, nevertheless, it is to be preferred to religious expression which went before it. To some of us, polity and mode of worship even of the denomination to whiel belong is becoming antiquated and lifeless, and the probabil are, that, if we will spiritually prosper, we must seek a yet sin form of worship, and originate a polity more relative to ourse Certain it is, that nothing is more injurious to men's spiritua than the attendance upon religious ordinances which have lost 1 relative value, and do not accord with their religious percept The time immediately preceding the advent of the Saviour wa time when, owing to the age and consequent unfitness of the M economy, infidelity and irreligion most abounded in Judæa. T is more infidelity on the Continent than in this country, not s01 because Roman Catholicism is the religion of those countries, as Roman Catholicism is now antiquated and no longer a reali those who profess it. The same in this country: the infid which exists, exists where, owing to parliamentary enactu adaptation of former arrangements to the progressive natu man's spiritual wants, is least possible; and is almost, if not gether, unknown, where there is the greatest facility for confort the external manifestation to the inward spirit of a man's faith. under which set of circumstances, will provision be best nade for necessity of man's spiritual progress-by many incorporation one? Whether will the individual voice be best heard, and individual faith of the man be most likely to be respondel amongst few or many ? Surely, there is more hope that we be able to meet and worship with those who are like-minded, mi proportion as distinct religious societies are absorbed into one anot but in proportion as they are multiplied; and that if the succe the church is dependent upon the spirituality of its members
look for it in the direction of an increase, and not in the aution of the number of distinctive religious bodies. 2 think we are justified in this conclusion by the religious y of the world. When, morally, “the earth was without and void,” and “ darkness covered the face of the deep," then he time that large incorporations were most possible." Dead spasses and sins," there was no spiritual life to lead men to ion or depart from any form of worship, which either came to by descent from their forefathers, or was imposed upon them lose who ruled over them. The strictest uniformity was vile, because personal conviction and responsibility was unfelt. irse of time, amongst the people to whom a special revelation een vouchsafed, we begin to see the stirrings of spiritual life, laniel, notwithstanding the King's commandment, prays to his s aforetime, and the Hebrew youths refused to bow down to image which Nebuchadnezzar, the king, had set up." But, the pouring out of the spirit upon the Christian converts, the day of Pentecost, national incorporations are tolerably after that, all existing ones are impossible. The new faith i in pieces the hugest masses of heathen worshippers, and s their parts, one by one, into the Christian church. Then ocess of disintegration begins, from the same spiritual force, Christian church which has absorbed all other religious comies. Lutherans, Episcopalians, Independents, Baptists appear scene ; and these again begin to disintegrate. And now,
perhaps not a single congregation in which there is not man who does not wish that there was another church to based upon some further light, he could more conscientiously lore profitably attach himself. And spiritual progress, and opagation of the Christian faith, has been dependent upon, roportionate to, such disintegrations. There was little coma between the spiritual force of those congregations which nothing of Lollardie, and those out of which Wycliffe could party. The preaching and the life of the ejected of 1662 very different sort of thing, and produced very different from the preaching and the life of the men who could give assent and consent" to all that was required of them. John y exerted a far mightier influence by the rejection of old and the adoption of new agencies, and forming, in spite of lf, a new sect, than he could have done, if he had abided by forms, and originated no new society. The same in ScotEvery secession was an indication of, and led to, an increase ritual life; and, now, the Free Church alone, which has had istence of but twenty years, is equal in its machinery, and superior in its use to the incorporation out of which it though the product of many generations. Why, then, suppose that large incorporations are either profitable or possibl Why assume that God's will is, or the accomplishment of his pr poses can be, in the direction opposite to that in which, so far, uniformly has been found ? Rather should we not accept our pa experience as confirmatory of the opinion, that, in proportion Christianity accomplishes its mission, it will multiply, not decrea the number of distinct religious communities, until all such co munities fade away into the individual man?
A. B. C.
CONGREGATIONALISM AT ST. ETHELRED'S.
DEAR MR. SPECTATOR, I am a Nonconformist. If you h asked me twelve months ago, why I was one, I should have paus for a reply, and should probably have answered, —" I was born or and so bred.” Now, thanks to last year's Bartholomew agitati I hope I can give a good reason for my Nonconformity.
Although a Nonconformist, I can see many things I should li altered in Congregationalism. We are too independent, and oft go to foolish extremes, on one side, simply, I do believe, becau the church errs on the opposite side. Then we have bad hab that have nothing to do with our free-churchmanship, but ari from this extreme independence, and equally bad habits that a common to churchmen aud nonconformists.
Will you allow me to give my story in your pages? The mor may still apply at other places besides St. Ethelred's.
I was born of congregational parents, and my earliest associatio are connected with St. Ethelred's Meeting-House. As a boy, 1 mother used to take me with her to the Sunday morning praye meeting at seven. Then I went to the morning Sunday schoool 9.30,— I should rather say at half-past nine, for we had no railway or Bradshaws in those days, and this style of marking time was a invented. At a quarter to eleven morning service began; and th afternoon school was at half-past two, so there was not much tim for dinner. Once a month there used to be a teachers' prave meeting in the vestry at the close of the afternoon school, and this my mother often took me. The evening service commenced half-past six, and we had another prayer-meeting at its close, in th vestry, to ask God's blessing on the services of the day. Will you readers be very much shocked when I tell them, that Sunday wa ofttimes a very dreary day to me?
I was always naturally of a restless disposition, and of a livel
gination, and often in the midst of the most sacred things would ure up the most absurd ideas. In many of the services I have led to
, I fear there was much to foster my sense of the ridiculous. singing, the prayers, and the preaching, in those days, too often ested thoughts that were not grave, and, even now I can imber many things that then amused, but which have since, 1 I have witnessed the like, annoyed and pained me. ar singing used to be outrageous. I remember very well, a we often had at the Sunday morning prayer-meeting. I think 3 called “ Drayton.” The words it was sung to were-
“ Lord, in the morning Thou shalt hear,
My voice ascending high ;
To Thee, lift up mine eye." tune was but one of many specimens of musical gymnastics which the worship of God was disgraced in those days. As to that tune, the words I have quoted would be as follows : ord, in the maw_aw—or ning—tha-ah-how shalt he-he-hear, —ord in the maw-aw-or-nay-in Thou shalt hear, y voice ascend y voice ascending high. y raw-aw-aw-aw-aw-aw-oice ascending high. Thee will I; di; raa-haa-ect my prayer.
Thee lift up
Thee lift up mine• Thee lift up mine eye.
Thee will I direct my prayer. o The-he lift, up; mine eye.” good folks, in those days, thought nothing of the nonsense they made by the dreadful tupes we sang. In public worship 3 the same, and oft-times the sense of a hymn was either d or altered by the custom of giving out two lines at a time; le beauty of the words always marred, either by the frightful in the music, or the breakdowns, which were not unfrequent,
to the absence of the leader who poured his sorrows into a choly Aute. But if any one with better taste than his fellows sted improvements--pleaded that a whole verse at a time was than two lines, or that the whole hymn was better than either; s denounced as an imitator of the Church of England:-if he mended the Gregorian style of music in lieu of the gymnastic, s an innovator, and we would have none of his “new-fangled ;"—if he suggested an organ; oh | horror of horrors, it was Popery ! d so we went on. The “worship of song"—the only form of ip we shall carry from the earthly tabernacle to heaven, was red carelessly, and in a slovenly manner :-nay more, was often led by the omission of the last hymn, when the sound of the
preacher's voice had been so pleasant in his own.ears, that he ha over-run the clock, and was warned by one and another of the servants in the gallery leaving the chapel, that the dinners of hi floek were spoiling. In that case, the last hymn was dispense with, and service concluded by the benediction. Worse still
, we had a collection. Then the time taken in singing God's praise after sermon, was usefully occupied in carrying about the beggin boxes, and the ascriptions of praise were accompanied by the jinglin of money! We will sing to the praise and glory of God,” sa our minister, “and while we do so, the friends will go round sit the boxes !” I remember, once saying to my father, who was deacon—when we came home from chapel after one of these scene
—“Why don't you make the collections sometimes when Mr. is preaching ?” and was very properly reproved for my trifling wi sacred things!
But if the highest form of worship-singing, was performed this objectionable manner, the praise was not worse, too often, tha the prayer. If any one had advocated“ forms of worship" in thodays, and suggested the use of a Prayer-Book, even if it had bet confined to the language of the Bible itself
, I verily believe would have been “expelled the church.” And yet we had nothi: more or less than set forms of prayer ; with this disadvantage, th they were composed of strings of scriptural mis-quotations, p together without any regard to sense, or any view to suitableness the occasion on which they were used. I could now name a doz
male members” who used to “ engage” at our prayer-meeting and be the occasion what it might, we could always tell what w going to be said. Scripture figures would often be mixed up mo ludicrously ; and generally such figures were mainly used, as we illustrative of Eastern manners and customs, and not at all appl cable to the present time or place. Thus we would have one got man praying, that our “cords may be lengthened and our stak strengthened ;" or a lament that we were “cisterns, broken cistern that could hold no water." God would be asked to bless us, for had promised that “where two or three were gathered together i His name, there He would be, and that to bless them.” One worthy old man used always to follow up this mis-quotation, wit " And although we now, exceed that number, &c., &c.," as if th promise could only be claimed when “two or three" were present Then I have heard a deacon pray that “the minister may see the travail of his Redeemer's soul, and be abundantly satisfied
. Into whatever form this passage was put, the word "abundantly was sure to be imported into it.
But what shall I say of the length of these prayers? Th week-night prayer meetings began at seven o'clock, and often wer not concluded until half-past eight, and then only three prayer bad been offered. On Sundays it was much the same; the “long