« 前へ次へ »
philanthropic objects, the members of this party have not neglected to labour for ends more exclusively religious. Convinced of our national responsibility to the heathen populations with which our commerce brought us into contact, they inaugurated the present century with the foundation of the • Church Missionary Society. That Society now maintains about 2000 ministers and teachers, of whom 200 are ordained, and has established more than 100 stations, scattered over the world. Centres of religious truth and of civilisation are thus fixed in the midst of heathendom, which cannot fail to produce results far greater than anything which they have hitherto effected. Yet the visible fruits already garnered would well repay the labour. For, not to mention the converted towns on the coast of Africa, whole districts of Southern India have embraced the faith; and the native population of New Zealand (spread over a territory as large as England) has been reclaimed from cannibalism, and added to the Church. About the same time, the same party were chiefly instrumental in establishing the • Bible Society, which in the course of the last half century, has translated the Scriptures into 148 languages, and circulated forty-three millions of copies. Besides this it has so greatly reduced the price of the English Bible, as to bring it within the reach of the poorest labourer. Nor is it to be reckoned the least merit of this body, that it has promoted Christian charity by forming a bond of union between all sects of Protestants.
The conspicuous position occupied by these societies, and their striking results, have eclipsed in the public view the more domestic efforts of their supporters; and the Low Church party has been accused of neglecting nearer duties, for the more exciting pursuit of evangelising the antipodes. Yet the charge is obviously unfounded; for the very men who were most energetic in their endeavours to christianise the world, were also the authors of every scheme devised in the present century for christianising England. They were the first to call attention to the fact, that our population had outgrown the religious machinery provided by the existing parochial system of the Church. They endeavoured from the beginning, so far as the defective state of the law allowed them, to supply this growing population with the means of worship. The first Diocesan Church Building
* We wish that we were not obliged to confess that this last merit of the Bible Society is too often cancelled by the uncharitable abuse of Roman Catholics, which sometimes forms a main topic at its meetings.
Society was founded by Archbishop Sumner, soon after he became Bishop of Chester*; and during his episcopate in that diocese, be consecrated more than 200 new churches. At a still earlier period, Mr. Simeon of Cambridge had spent his whole private fortune in an effort to meet the same evil by a different method. He saw that in many of our great towns, myriads were under the pastoral charge of a single clergyman. In such a position he knew that the slothful found ample excuse for doing nothing; but he knew also that the zealous might do much; and that the very sight of a clergyman devoting himself to his work under such difficulties would win co-operation. Acting on this view he purchased the advowsons of many such livings, and vested them in trustees. The inhabitants of Bath, Clifton, Bradford, and many other places similarly situated, bave been thus supplied with a body of laborious ministers; and their improved condition attests the wisdom of the plan.
With the same end in view, the same party founded the Pastoral Aid Society' in 1836. It now supports more than 300 additional clergymen (besides above 100 lay assistants), ministering to a population of nearly three million souls. Again, at a still later period, they have attempted to reach those godless multitudes who, though within the sound of
the church-going bell,' are far beyond the sphere of its attraction. With this purpose they have instituted a new ecclesiastical order, under the name of Scripture Readers,' drawn from the same class of society as those to whom they are sent. These lay Evangelists are often able to penetrate where a clergyman's visit would be repelled; and sometimes their simple earnestness triumphs over the logic of Tom Paine and the rhetoric of the Sunday newspaper, and wins back family after family of baptized heathens to the pale of Christendom.
These are some of the objects effected by the collective exertions of the Evangelical body. But the work they have done is not to be measured by these public undertakings. They have been still more extensively useful by their private efforts, each in his own parish going about doing good, healing the sick, and preaching the Gospel to the poor. It has been by such silent labours that the profound darkness in which the English peasantry were enveloped at the beginning of the century t has been gra
The General Church Building Society was founded by Sir T. Acland, Lord Kenyon, and others, ten years earlier, in 1818; but this is supported by public collections under Queen's Letters, not by private efforts.
† See, for example, Hannah More's account of the state of the Somersetshire peasantry, when she began to establish schools among
dually dissipated. They were the establishers of Sunday Schools, of Infant Schools, and Lending Libraries. By weekly lectures in the sequestered hamlets of their parishes, they brought the teaching of the Church to the door of the most distant cottage. They promoted benefit societies and clothing clubs, and all the manifold machinery of parochial benevolence. And by always residing on their preferment, they brought the civilising influence of a resident gentry to bear upon many a village, which had been destitute of that advantage for several generations.
Unhappily, the rapid growth of the towns outstripped their efforts, and therefore the results effected have been wholly inadequate to the necessities of the time. Yet here, too, they did their best; and they were long the only party in the Church which attempted to do anything. By the institution of Dis“trict Visitors,' they have established the only method of parochial organisation which can enable a clergyman to become the ministering pastor of congregated myriads. Moreover, they have sought out the sailors on our docks, and the diggers on our railways, and gathered them together for worship. And they have not hesitated to preach in filthy courts and alleys, the haunts of vice and infamy, to audiences which could not be tempted to listen under any roof but the sky.*
It is true, that in our own times, these various means of good are pursued with equal zeal by other parties in the Church; yet we'must not on that account forget the debt of gratitude due to their originators. It is often said, indeed, that the Evangelical
. body are no longer what they were forty years ago; that they have lost their first love, and ceased to do their first works. This charge is perhaps not altogether groundless, for their creed has now become an hereditary system, which must often be adopted more from habit than conviction. Yet if we keep in mind the distinction to be drawn between genuine · Evangelicalism ’and its two degradations (the exaggerated and the stagnant), we shall find that the original type
still contributes largely and healthily to the religious element of our national life. We have already
them. In reading it, one can scarcely believe that such barbarism could have existed in England only fifty years ago. It is true that the 'Christian Knowledge Society,' at the beginning of the 18th cen. tury, made some noble efforts in the same direction, and continued to do all that was done at all for the religious education of the people till recent times. But after the middle of last century, it had fallen into languor and decrepitude, from which it did not revive till after the beginning of the present.
This open-air preaching has been lately tried with great success by some of the clergy in our large towns, especially at Liverpool.
given sufficient proof of its continuous activity in public matters. In the more important sphere of private duty it is less easy to cite examples, which could not be mentioned without violating the modesty of unostentatious merit in secluded parsonages. But we imagine that most of our readers can supply examples for themselves, by looking round among the clergy of their neighbourhood. Such pastors may not perhaps be men of the most comprehensive understanding; not the fittest teachers forinquiring minds, nor qualified to refute the learned infidelity of Strauss or Newman. But upon the middle and lower ranks of their parishioners, they often have a stronger influence than their more intellectual brethren. The attraction of their personal character, shown forth in a daily life of self-sacrificing love, gradually wins many to righteousness, and turns the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just. The biographies of two such men, Hamilton Forsyth and Spencer Thornton, have recently been published, and have passed through several editions. They both died before middle age, but were no otherwise distinguished from hundreds of their fellows. They gave themselves to the work of their calling, with no great abilities and no public notice. Yet those who study the narrative of their
. lives will see how much they did, by the mere force of unquestionable sincerity and personal holiness, during the short time in which they were permitted to serve their generation. A third biography, equally recent and equally popular with the above (that of Mr. Fox the Missionary), represents an adherent of the same theological school, but of a less ordinary type. While a school-boy at Rugby, he devoted himself in heart to the work of converting the heathen. When he had completed his education at Oxford, he carried this purpose into execution. Southern India was the scene of his ministrations; and under that burning sun in a few years of too eager labours he wore out a strong constitution, and came home to die. Yet his life was not thrown away, nor do such martyrs ever sacrifice themselves in vain. In them is still fulfilled that which was said of old, semen est sanguis christianorum. For one who thus falls, many spring up to take his place. Henry Fox, himself the follower of Henry Martyn, has been already followed by other academic students like-minded with himself.
But there is no need to dwell on the merits of the dead, nor to violate the modesty of private station, in order to disprove the
The readers of Dr. Arnold's life will remember how one of his 'evangelical' friends renounced the comforts of an Oxford fellowship to preach the Gospel on the shores of the Carnatic.
assertion that the party of Wilberforce, Cecil, and Simeon is effete. The notion is sufficiently confuted by living examples in the most conspicuous positions. One only we will mention, as a type of his class. Dr. Perry, now Bishop of Melbourne, began his career by obtaining the highest honours which Cambridge can bestow. He was the Senior Wrangler of his year, and afterwards obtained a Fellowship of Trinity, and resided for some years in his College chambers. In that luxurious seat of learning he devoted himself, not to the amusements of literary leisure, but to alleviating the sufferings and caring for the spiritual interests of the destitute and wretched. Barnwell, a great suburb of Cambridge, had recently sprung up, and then contained 10,000 inhabitants, almost exclusively of the very lowest class, and a large proportion of them supported by thieving and prostitution. For this population there was one small church, which beld 200 people, and was endowed with 401. per annum. The incumbent (a man of the old school, now deceased,) utterly neglected his flock, which was in a state of as hopeless degradation, spiritual, moral, and physical, as it is possible to imagine. Dr. Perry's first step was to purchase the advowson of this living, and to institute a working clergyman. He next built two large churches, and divided the overgrown cure into two ecclesiastical districts, each provided with its parochial schools, its district visitors, and other appliances of a well organised parish. The second of these he took under his own pastoral charge, and refused, for its sake, one of the best livings in the diocese, which the Bishop offered him as a testimonial of his eminent services to the Church. Soon afterwards, the colonial bishopric of Melbourne was pressed upon him by the Government of the day. Dr. Perry was already a man of established reputation and independent fortune. He had everything to lose, and nothing to gain, by accepting the offer. Had he acted on selfish principles, he must have refused to give up the society of Cambridge, the comforts of English civilisation, and the reverential attachment of grateful parishioners, and to exchange all this for perpetual exile and disheartening labour, far from the seats of all the Muses, among the Mammon-seeking and Jacobinical population of a new colony. But he was not a man to hesitate, when duty was on one side and inclination on the other. All earthly motives urged him to remain; but he heard a voice which called him to build up the Church of Christ, and graft upon the vigorous growth of a new nation the germs of a higher life. That call he obeyed, and went forth in the spirit of the patriarchs, 'not • knowing whither he went. And now, from time to time, come