Puslapio vaizdai

uphold: otherwise, the Dissenters, we suppose, fierce as is their hatred of the Establishment, would scarcely pull it down in order to make heathens of their countrymen. Let us try, then, this question by the test of experience. Now it appears from Mr. Yates's calculations, in a valuable and well-timed Letter addressed to Lord Liverpool, and published in the year 1815, that the population of the Tower Hamlets division of London, of the Ossulston hundred, the Finsbury division, Holborn, Kensington, and Westminster divisions, together with Southwark and the adjoining parishes, amounted to 905,715 souls; that the number of churches, for the supply of this population, was forty-five-so that, allowing 2000 persons to a church—(which is much too large an allowance)-more than 800,000 would still be left without the means of enjoying the public ordinances of religion. Here, therefore, was ample scope for the operation of the voluntary system, in order to supply so monstrous a defect; a defect which was obvious to the eyes of every one who dwelt in those quarters. Did it prove

effective ?_Take the account of the Dissenters themselves. The Congregational Magazine, for December, 1832, makes the total number of Dissenting chapels in that district, including the meeting-houses of Quakers, Roman Catholics, and every description of seceders, amount to one hundred' and eighty-six. The same authority reckons 400 persons to each, making 74,400 in the whole; so that there still remains 700,000 outcasts, to furnish recruits to the Rotunda. "So much,' says the author of the Essays of which we have already spoken, for the assumption, that if the State does not provide a religion for the people, the people will be sure to provide one for themselves.'*

It will be contended, however, perhaps, that the Church Establishment actually existing stands in the way of the voluntary system. It embarrasses its natural progress—the people not caring to possess themselves of ground which has the appearance, at least, of being already occupied; and then America is pointed to with triumph-where religion has been left to itself. We are not yet thoroughly acquainted with the religious condition of the United States : recent events, however, have led to some investigation of the subject ; and the result is not so favourable to the efficiency of the system of voluntary churches as some might imagine. In the first place, then, we should remember, that many of the original colonists of the United States were men who expatriated themselves on religious grounds: they were a devout and zealous race, and the impulse of their character was likely to make itself felt for many generations after them; so that, had America been in fact all that its friends represent it to be, it might be still a question * Essays on the Church, p. 36.


whether there were not peculiar circumstances in the character of its population which were propitious to the growth of a religious spirit.

But, next-it is not true that religion has been hitherto left to itself in America. In several parts of the Union the maintenance of religion is, or rather was, compulsory—though the sect to which any individual would attach himself was at his own option; and wherever the compulsory system has given place to the voluntary, religion has rapidly declined. Indeed, nothing can be more satisfactory to the friends of an Establishment, than the example of America, if candidly considered. Dr. Dwight's authority stands high with the Dissenters in this country. In his · Travels in New England and New York,' he explains the nature of the ecclesiastical establishment which then existed in Connecticut, (it has since been destroyed,) and contrasts the condition of religion in that province with its condition in the more southern provinces, where there was no establishment at all.* The result is, in a few words, this :—That in a state in which Christianity was established by law, the Presbyterian ministers—for they were the great body of the clergy-supported and settled, were in the proportion of one to every thirteen hundred and twenty-eight inhabitants; whilst in the States where the voluntary system prevailed, the proportion was one to every sixteen thousand six hundred and sixty-eight. Nay more-for we are anxious to give the enemies the Establishment the full benefit of their favourite example—whilst, in the former state, out of 209 congregations-for so many it countedthere were 20 vacancies, i. e., about one-tenth without ministers; in the latter states, out of 430 congregations—which was their whole number—there were 160 vacant, or considerably more than one-thirdthe inhabitants being to this extent too poor or too supine to support a minister;-and of the rest 81 were served by pluralists ; and “yet the advocates of voluntary churches,' adds our Essayist,' are perpetually referring us to America for proof, conclusive proof, of the excellency and efficiency of their scheme ! -to America! one glance at which ought to close their mouths for ever! But they know not what they say, nor whereof they affirm.'

Moreover, though in the large towns of America there is much Christian profession-such as it is—a great part of it is believed to be of the Socinian school-a corruption not unusually engendered by the want of a fixed scriptural standard of faith, by which aberrations might be early felt and correctedma corruption, therefore, which in this country derives its chief supplies from the decomposition and decay of the Independents. In like manner, we do not * Vol. iy. p. 397.

deny deny that the populous towns in England would probably maintain, even without any extrinsic help, a body of ministers of one kind or other; but, in the meanwhile, what would become of the country?--how would voluntary churches be furnished to our agricultural communities, consisting, as they often do, of one or two gentlemen, eight or ten farmers, and a few scores of cottagers ? How, in fact, does this district, composing the chief surface of every kingdom, fare in the favoured land across the Atlantic? We see no reason to doubt the correctness of the picture drawn by a late traveller in the United States--certainly no enthusiast :

A stranger taking up his residence in any city in America, must think the natives the most religious nation upon earth ; but if chance lead him among her western villages, he will rarely find either churches or chapels, prayer or preacher; except, indeed, at that most terrific Saturnalia—a camp-meeting. I was much struck with the answer of a poor woman whom I saw ironing on a Sunday. • Do you make no difference in your occupations on a Sunday? I said,

• I be’ant a Christian, ma'am; we have got no opportunity,'—was the reply. It occurred to me that the government would be guilty of no crime, did it so far interfere, as to give them all an opportunity of becoming Christians, if they wished it.**

But, if exceptions be taken against this testimony, as coming from a witness under passion or prejudice, hear the account given of the matter by an American himself-a minister, too—the Rev. Samuel J. Mills, who thus describes what he had seen with his own eyes :

Never will the impression be erased from our hearts, by beholding those scenes of wide-spreading desolation. The whole country, from Lake Erie to the Gulf of Mexico, is as the valley of the shadow of death. Darkness rests upon it. Only here and there a few rays of gospel light pierce through the awful gloom. This vast country contains more than a million of inhabitants. Their number is every year increased by a mighty flood of emigration. Soon will they be as the sands on the sea shore for multitude; yet there are at present only a little more than one hundred Protestant or congregational ministers in it. Were these ministers equally distributed throughout the country, there would be only one to every ten thousand people. But now, there are districts of country containing from twenty to fifty thousand inhabitants, entirely destitute; "and how shall they hear without a preacher ?"">4

Such is the fate of an agricultural district where religion is to be maintained by a system of voluntary churches.

There is, however, another view of this question to be taken, * Domestic Manners of the Americans, vol. i. p. 155.

† Narrative of a Tour, by the Rev. S. J. Mills; quoted by Dr. Chalmers On En. dowments,' p. 189.

which has been much overlooked, though perhaps the most important of any. We have, indeed, already touched upon it in a previous part of this paper, but not with the emphasis it deserves, —that this system of voluntary churches would be absolutely fatal to all efficient pastoral intercourse of the minister with his people ; that however it might provide places of worship for the Sunday, it would provide no adequate parochial superintendence during the week; for the class and band-meetings of the Methodists amount to nothing of the sort, and produce none of its fruits. As it is, there are some ten thousand men circulating throughout this country for two or three hours most days of their lives, upon various home-missions of charity, of pity, of exhortation, of reproof, -each man of them all knowing precisely the district within which he has to walk; contident in the soundness of the warrant by which he enters every house in it uninvited; and, in general, hailed by the welcome of all, as one of those whose feet are beautiful. What a mass of misery is thus daily explored and relieved ! what heart-burnings are quenched ! what complaints hushed ! what follies withstood! what knowledge imparted ! what affections stirred up! Who would rashly disturb this under-current of goodwill which is diffusing itself, silently and secretly, throughout all the darkest and most dismal recesses of society, and mitigating so much that is evil in this hard-hearted world? Yet, withdraw the Church Establishment, and it is done. There will then be no minister who has a district assigned to his peculiar care and keeping, where he individually feels himself answerable for the souls that are therein. He will share it with other parties of other persuasions. The latch of the door will no longer be lifted with the same boldness as now. The whole parish will be debateable ground, and no man will know in it his own. The several ministers will find it no pleasant thing to encounter one another in the sick-man's chamber, under a temptation, perhaps, to wrangle out points of divinity over the couch of death; or, at all events, each uncertain whether he is not trespassing on the province of the others; and so the patient will probably be abandoned altogether, This is no speculative objection: the inconvenience is already felt, in a small degree, in parishes where Dissenters abound; and the ministers of such parishes feel themselves under some embarrassment in the discharge of their pastoral duties to that portion of their flock, even with the advantage of their present position; and yet we believe, were they to abstain from making their call upon such persons through any false fear of intrusion, their absence would not often be supplied from any other quarter. We are most anxious to press this consideration upon all whom it may concern, -that perhaps the most comely parts of the Church of England are those which are least displayed. Doubtless her ritual is spirit-stirring—her pulpits are fountains of religious knowledge -her ceremonies full of solemnity-her temples worthy of being dedicated to God; but these are only the grosser features of her beauty: they may be all done away, and some calculation be made beforehand of the amount of that portion of the loss; but the unobtrusive provision she makes for the perpetual disasters of a working-day world—for the things which are happening out of sight—this is the province in which she wanders amongst the people unseen; her services here are not easily appreciated, because noiseless; in this department, even more than in the pulpit or the senate, she repays the State for its protection and support; and whatever power for good of this kind she possesses, be it never forgotten, she owes entirely and altogether to the situation in which she stands as the sole accredited guardian of religion in this land, according to its parochial divisions.



ART. VII.-1. Griechish-Deutsches Wörterbuch. Von J. G.

Schneider, Professor and Oberbibliothekar zu Breslau. Dritte

Ausgabe. 2 bde. 4to. Leipzig. 1819. 2. Handwörterbuch der Griechischen Sprache, von Franz Passow.

Vierte Ausgabe. 2 bde. 8vo. Leipzig. 1830-1831. 3. Thesaurus Græcæ Lingue, ab Henrico Stephano construc

Post Editionem Anglicam novis additamentis auctum, ordineque alphabetico digestum, tertio ediderunt Carolus Bene

dictus Hase, &c. &c. &c. Parisiis. 1831. 4. A New Greek and English Lexicon ; principally on the plan

of the Greek and German Lexicon of Schneider; the words alphabetically arranged ; distinguishing such as are poetical, of Dialectic variety, or peculiar to certain writers and classes of writers; with examples, literally translated, selected from the classical writers. By James Donnegan, M.D. 1 vol. 8vo.

London. Ist Ed. 1826. 2d Ed. 1831. WHILE WHILE we pride ourselves, and with reason, in having left our

continental neighbours at an immeasurable distance behind us in all the great branches of the arts, and are at least keeping pace with them in the different departments of science, we are contented, it seems, to hold, in our classical knowledge, a quite secondary rank. In the study of the dead languages in general, but more particularly of the Greek and Latin, the Germans have


« AnkstesnisTęsti »