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not easily daunted, and that did not stick at trifles. We can hardly realize that an Archdeacon, without a cassock, could have ventured on such a stretch of authority ; it taxes our imagination beyond its powers to conceive a Bishop of the Church of England being given in charge to peace officers for presiding over a missionary meeting which had been unfortunate enough to incur the displeasure of the Archdeacon of Bath.
Such a performance of archidiaconal functions did not, even in those days, pass without animadversion. From Bath in the West, to Cambridge in the East and Yorkshire in the North, the conflict raged. It is a curious sign of those times, that the late Professor of Political Economy at Cambridge, then a Fellow of Trinity, who took part in the controversy, thought it well to state that during the sixteen years he had resided in the University, he had only been four times in the church frequented by Evangelical Christians, and that he was not a member of the Church Missionary Society, and had no present intention of becoming one. Having thus purged himself of all complicity with fanaticism, the keen lawyer proceeded to dissect the Archdeacon's protest. He could not see how “compassing sea and land to gain proselytes” applied in such a case, for on referring to Matt. xxiii. 15, he found the answer directed against those who made a man “twofold more the child of hell than themselves.” “Was then the conversion of a heathen to any sect of Christianity to make him the child of hell ?” Nor could he see that if one half of Bath subscribed for missions, and the other did not, this would necessarily create discord any more than if one half should subscribe to the Bath Infirmary, and the other should not. Upon the charge against the Society, of calling forth the contribution of small sums from the lower classes, the future Professor of Political Economy could discern that "it elevates while it softens the heart of the donor, A man feels that it is more blessed to give than to receive,' and beginning to save (which he never thought of before) a penny for the Society, he saves perhaps a shilling for himself, and becomes more economical, prudent, and moral.”* How amply this remark has been justified by the annals of our religious societies, time and space would fail to tell.
Daniel Wilson, too, came forward on behalf of the Society which he so much loved. In a pamphlet, which in less than three months passed through fifteen editions, in weighty terms he denounced the needless aggression of the Archdeacon. We extract one important passage, which places the relation of all such Societies as the Church Missionary Society on so clear & footing, that it is well to recall it even now-a-days. “The Church Missionary Society is a Voluntary Association formed
* Counter Protest of a Layman. By G. Pryme, M.A., &c., p. 10.
no clapoints whichbers conscieatters like
as of right to within the proubmit to
for a lawful object, but not pretending to be established by law; conducted with a due respect to constituted authorities, but preferring no claims as of right to their countenance and patronage. In all points which fall within the province of ecclesiastical enactment, its members conscientiously submit to the canons and usages of the Church ; in matters like those of voluntary charity, which the wisdom of the Church has left, with a thousand others, to the decision of private conscience and feeling, they claim, as Britons and Protestants, the right of being guided by their own. In effect, every voluntary society conducted by members of our Church, rests in these respects precisely upon the same grounds. No institution of this nature possesses, or can claim, any ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Such a jurisdiction could be conferred upon it only by a direct grant from the legislature, which no existing society in our Church, however highly respectable, and whether incorporated by Charter or not, has received."*
Such a statement could not easily be controverted, and it was not difficult to prove from it, that neither an Archdeacon's visitatorial authority, nor his judicial functions, empowered him to interfere with what, strictly speaking, was not "a religious meeting, but simply a voluntary association of benevolent persons, met to form a charitable institution under the protection of the laws of the land. He might as well, it was said, have interrupted an assembly convened for planning a bridge, or projecting a hospital; he might, in fact, almost as well have advanced a claim of right to enter the private abode of individuals, in order to regulate the detail of personal beneficence.
In the Book of Proverbs, Solomon tells us that “he that is first in his own cause seemeth just, but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him." Such was the hard fate of the Archdeacon in this matter. In his solemn protest he had warned the meeting that the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel had been in existence, though little encouraged, for more than a hundred years. He added, that probably many present had never heard of its name, and he took occasion to recommend it to them. It turned out that during the whole of a long ministry, and although holding high and influential positions in the Church and in the City of Bath, he had never himself subscribed a sixpence to it, nor had the auditory heard of its name from him. In the year following, his name appears for the first and only time as a subscriber of two guineas, and the venerable Society was further to be enriched by the profits accruing on the publication of his protest; we have, however, been unable to trace out the exact amount of the latter item. It was, no doubt, for the share which he took in this contro
* Defence of the Church Missionary Society. By D. Wilson, M.A., &c., p. 13.
versy, that the friends and admirers of the Archdeacon raised the monument to which we referred at the commencement of these remarks. He was not alone in his opinions; they were shared by multitudes around him; we may charitably conclude that this common delusion formed the chief, indeed the only plausible justification for his course of conduct.
The whole narrative furnishes a lively illustration of the difficulties which attended the Church Missionary Society for a long period subsequent to its formation. We can, perhaps, now discover some benefit which resulted to it from such blind and furious opposition. The tree planted was tended in its infancy with more jealous care by its friends; it grew the hardier because exposed to blasts and storms, and like the holm oak, of which the poet sings,
“Per damna per cædes ab ipso
Duxit opes animumque ferro.” We can thankfully acknowledge that a wonderful change has come over the spirit of England since these things happened “ fifty years ago ;” but one may well pause with astonishment at beholding Church dignitaries strenuously contending against the establishment of a Society which not only has carried the light of God's word into the darkest places of the earth, and gathered converts by hundreds of thousands into the pale of the English Church; but which, without receding one atom from its principles, nay, in strictest conformity with them, was aiding mightily in the establishment of our Indian bishoprics, and has maintained mitred rulers in their sees, who without its aid, as has been gratefully acknowledged by the present Bishop of Lichfield, could not have maintained their position in the distant regions to which the successful labours of the Society's Missionaries invited them. Even, however, at the present day, we fear there are many parishes in England, where a spirit of apathy, if not of intolerance, still prevails, and where, despite Queen's Letters and Bishop's Charges, and all the efforts of ecclesiastical machinery, nothing is done for the extension of the Redeemer's kingdom. A curious illustration of this came under our notice a little while ago. A sermon was preached in a country church for the Church Missionary Society, and the preacher was assured by the vicar and churchwardens that the last collection which had been made in it for any charitable object was for the relief of the wounded after the battle of Waterloo. It would be no ordinary energy, no mechanical agency, however deftly organized, which could overcome such strenuous inertia.
We wish, however, we could add, that the spirit which influenced the Archdeacon of Bath“ fifty years ago” were altogether extinct, but we fear it still lingers in some quarters.
to be distinctilistspat liberty to angeline e fer wou
Such feelings would unquestionably be most alien to the amiable and accomplished gentleman who so worthily fills that office now; but in many quarters a narrow jealous feeling still survives, which we would gladly see exorcised. It cannot be too distinctly asserted that, to use the language of one of the controversialists on this memorable occasion, "as an Englishman, I am surely at liberty to employ my money in contributing to humanize, civilize, and evangelize my fellow-creatures; and were I a clergyman, my clerical character would not divest me of my civil rights. I am also at liberty to associate with others for an object confessedly laudable ; and while a spark of civil and religious liberty remains among us, I cannot be deprived of these rights.” Zeal, even in a righteous cause, should ever be tempered with courtesy and discretion, and is the more likely to succeed when invested with such Christian graces ; but it would be a grievous mistake and dereliction of duty, on the part of those who look and long and pray for the time when “all the kingdoms of the earth shall become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ,” if they allowed petty jealousies and unfounded pretensions to interfere with their works and labours of love, where both the laws of the realm and the wisdom of the Church of which they are members have manifestly left them free to follow the dictates of conscience. If they entertain any doubt upon such points, the triumphant issue of the conflicts waged in a former generation, and the futility of such idle opposition, ought to furnish abundant encouragement that "in due season they shall reap if they faint
hement channel Christipensing the influens
A good deal of mystification, however, is still kept afloat, by which many parochial clergymen, and even some ecclesiastical dignitaries, would endeavour to assume to themselves the office of the golden pipes, which empty the golden oil out of themselves; but there is little, we might fairly say no foundation for such a claim. If they are not clogged, and the oil runs freely through them,' little harm may result, and they will usually be found convenient channels ; but the exclusive right of being the conduits of all the Christian liberality of the parish or the diocese, with the power of dispensing it at their sole will and pleasure, is not a claim to be allowed. The influence of an ecclesiastical ruler, or a parochial clergyman, heartily interested in works of Christian liberality, will always, and justly, be most potential; but just in proportion as little may be assumed, much will usually be conceded. That they should have their individual preferences for certain societies or particular modes of carrying on Christian work, is to be expected ; and that they should recommend and urge them, is but natural, and no one would be entitled to make objection to their doing so.
on that it is die ha to rate doctrine so to
But any assumption of ecclesiastical authority and prohibitions in virtue of imaginary official right, can only, if brought to the test, end in discomfiture. If, “fifty years ago,” such attempts were powerless and recoiled upon the authors, there is not much in the temper of the present times to encourage a repetition of them. We do not think we are mistaken in asserting that it is just now the true wisdom of the clergy of the Church of England to rally around them every agency which is not inconsistent with the doctrines and discipline of our Reformed and Apostolic Church, and so to appeal freely and fearlessly to the good sense, the feeling, the piety, and the gratitude of the nation. We rejoice to know that multitudes do so heartily, and reap an ample reward from doing so. If troublous times are coming to our beloved Church, much danger will be averted, much love be called forth, by such prudent and conciliatory conduct. But, under any circumstances, nothing whatever must be allowed to impede “the universal diffusion of the knowledge of the mercies of God in Christ Jesus” by all possible means, and by the exertions of all who can anyhow be enlisted in the cause, an object which the Archdeacon of Bath, fifty years ago, declared to be dear to his heart, however strongly he objected to the Church Missionary Society as a suitable agency, and however completely he had held aloof from any other means of accomplishing it.
THE EDUCATION QUESTION WITH REFERENCE TO COMPULSION.
THE education of a country is a topic which can never be void of interest to those who wish it well; but by the members of the Christian ministry, so long as they recognize their sacred solemn obligation to feed the lambs of Christ's flock, it ought to be regarded as of the first importance. Even amid the excitement which has attended the passage of the Bill for the disestablishment and disendowment-or, as the poor pithily express it, the destruction of the Irish Church, there are many indications that the Education question is in our own country assuming greater proportions and rapidly increasing in interest. The Scotch Éducation Bill, the Sheffield Church Conference, the recent speeches of Members of the Government, and above all, the discussion aroused by the publication of the statistics collected by the National Society,* will serve to illustrate and confirm this remark. The present phase of the
* “Statistics of Church of England Schools for the Poor in England and Wales in 1866 and 1867,”