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and, so far as Rome is concerned, perilous to Protestant evangelists. The unusually brilliant display of northern lights (Aurora borealis) on the 24th October, created great alarm throughout Italy. In Rome the priests declared that the display of fiery lights was indicative of God's wrath against the Italians. In Sicily there were religious processions to appease the Divine anger, and riots against the Protestants. So serious were some of these disturbances that the soldiers had to be called to disperse the superstitious mobs.
An era of order and liberty seems to be dawning in Spain, The Duc d'Aosta, second son of the King of Italy, having been chosen by the Cortes as the future sovereign of Spain, has accepted the proffered crown, and all Europe seems to acquiesce in the decision. Liberty of the press, liberty of public meeting, and liberty of worship have been enjoyed for some time now under the wise administration of the Provisional Government, and Christian enterprise has taken advantage of this favourable state of things for the extensive spread of Gospel truth, and the establishment of Evangelical churches. It is to be hoped that the new monarchy will interpose no check to this good work.
Russia has astonished the civilized world by a partial repudiation of the Treaty of 1856. England, Austria, and Turkey were, not without reason, greatly alarmed, for the dreaded spectre of war loomed in the not very distant future. Diplomacy has succeeded in deferring the rupture, greatly to the satisfaction of all the parties concerned. A Conference of the Great Powers is to be held; but the uneasiness has been renewed by a recent intimation from Berlin that Prussia considers herself no longer bound by the Treaty of 1867, in so far as Luxemburg is concerned. This repudiation of treaties is a lamentable violation of international morality. It is feared that Prussia, flushed with victory, is combining with Russia against the peace of Europe.
We have very little to report from Germany, save that the Ultramontanes are doing their best to obtain from the State a recognition of the dogma of Papal Infallibility as binding on the clergy, and Von Mühler, the Prussian Minister of Religion, though a Protestant, is playing into their hands.
From America we hear of the cordial reception of the English Deputation from the Evangelical Alliance. We also learn that in connection with the flourishing Syrian Missions sustained by the American churches, a college has been established in Beyrout, at the foot of Lebanon, in which already there are eighty young men in training to elevate and save their fellow-countrymen. The New York Observer chronicles the death of an aged convert of above 100 years of age at Marsovan, Turkey :-.“ Died, at Marsovan, April 26, Ak Geul (White Rose), supposed to be over 100 years old. She was among the first there to embrace the truth, being at the time nearly eighty years of age. Very few indeed are the aged in that land-especially the aged women who change their faith. But she
got a glimpse of her Saviour,' and embraced him. She was a member of the Marsoyan Church, and rich in faith and love, though long suported from the poor-box. Ever since her conversion she has ardently loved the Saviour, and longed to go and be with him. In days long gone she was rich and lived at ease; but her husband died, her wealth took wings, and for years she lived in a mud hovel, whose only windows are oiled paper. She spun cotton to help to support herself almost up to the close of her life. In the cold winter morning she was at the sunrise prayer-meeting. The night of her death she kept repeating the words of a favourite hymn:
"Take me, I pray Thee, O Lord,
Strengthen my weak feet,
That I may be Thy little lamb.' At daylight she passed away with prayer on her lips. White Rose, who had bloomed in Christian graces in her mud hovel, was transplanted to the Paradise of God.”
HOME.—The Ecclesiastical suits which, on appeal, have been brought before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, are pregnant with importance to the character and destiny of the Church of England. The cases we refer to are those of the Reps. Messrs. Mackonochie, Bennett, Purchas, and Voysey. The first case has been decided against Mr. Mackonochie. He has been admonished for disobedience to the spirit, if not the letter, of a previous monition; prohibited from preaching for three months, and mulcted in the costs of the suit. This has excited great indignation amongst the Ritualists. But we think it high time that their Romanizing vagaries were checked. The Bennett case similarly involved the legal attitude of the English Church in relation to the Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence in the Eucharist, and this decision is looked forward to with considerable trepidation. The Church Review (Ritualistic), looking at the extreme gravity of the situation, says, “There cannot be a shadow of doubt that an adverse decision will be the turping-point in the fortunes of the Establishment. Already a very large party in the Church of England regard the final court with feelings much more intense than suspicion," &c. The truth is that the Evangelicals cannot trust the Dean of Arches, whose proclivities are believed to be extreme High Church; while, on the contrary, the Ritualists look with disfavour on the Judicial Committee, believing that it is bent on maintaining the soundly Protestant character of the English Church. And it is not a little singular that while all the decisions of the Dean of Arches seem to have favoured the Anglo-Catholic party, the Judicial Committee have, on appeal, invariably reversed those decisions. This is perplexing to outsiders, and must be still more embarrassing to Church clergymen. The judgments in the cases of the Rovs. Messrs. Bennett, Purchas, and Voysey have not been announced at the time we write. Voysey represents the extreme Rationalists as Bennett does the extreme Ritualists. Thus the Church of England presents the unseemly spectacle of rival and antagonistic parties, some quarrelling over doctrines, some over vestments, and some over gestures and genuflexions. There is an old saying that “a house divided against itself cannot stand;" and it is noteworthy that just at this juncture, when the State Church is in a state of disintegration, Mr. Miall, M.P., has announced his intention to move for the disestablishment of that church, and the Liberation Society has entered upon a vigorous campaign in furtherance of that object. Already several great enthusiastic meetings in our largest towns have expressed their approval of the project.
The question of Presbyterian Union is occasioning bitter controversy amongst the churches north of the Tweed; and it seems to be very evident that the negotiations for union will produce great disunion. The matter has been discussed at the great Free Church presbyteries of Edinburgh and Glasgow, and in both the preamble in favour of union with the United Presbyterian Church was carried by a large majority; nevertheless, the minority was so considerable in numbers and influence that, we think, much further progress will be impracticable. The point at issue is soon told. Each-the Free Church and the United Presbyterian Church-subscribes to the one confession of faith. That confession recognizes Christ as not only the head of the Church, but as the King of nations. The United Presbyterians insist that Christ's headship does not necessitate the establishment by law of a State church. The Free Church majority is willing to leave this an open question; but the minority hold this to be so vital a point-s0 tenacious are they of the principle of an established religion—that they not only refuse to unite with those who object to it, but threaten to separate from their brethren who do not regard it as essential to Christian faith. The hard-headed men of the North will have a great fight on it yet.
SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHERS! may we ask your serious attention for a moinent? The Rev. W. Caine, M.A., of Manchester, giving his experience as chaplain of the New Bailey Prison, Salford, says: "As a Sundayschool scholar and teacher myself during the last thirty years, I am most anxious to maintain the character of Sunday-schools. I wish I could show that no one connected with Sunday-schools, either as scholar or teacher, ever fell into crime or got into prison. But I must speak the truth, however disagreeable that truth may be to myself. I have had under my care in the county gaol during the last year sons of clergymen, local Methodist preachers, sons of Dissenting ministers, commercial travellers, clerks of every kind, merchants, maltsters, agents for brewers, wives of merchants, wives of chemists, and daughters of respectable parents. Hardly a day passes in which I do not speak to prisoners who have been connected with Sunday-schools fifteen or sixteen years, or even more. The chaplain of the Leeds Gaol, some years ago, said that out of 230 prisoners twenty-three had been Sunday-school teachers, and 180 had been Sunday-school scholars. I will here repeat what I have said over and over again-namely, that drink has been the cause of the ruin of nine out of every ten of these, directly or indirectly." The writer adds, “I cannot conclude without entreating all Sunday-school teachers, who will take the trouble to read this letter, at once to form Bands of Hope in their schools, and to teach the young committed to their care to hate and abhor the horrid drink.”
With the commencement of the year the Irish Church (as we may still, for courtesy's sake, call it, though it is now disestablished) starts on a new era of its history. The Church Convention of clergy and laity which have been deliberating for some time past on the new organization, have perfected their arrangements, and shown a capacity for self-government alike creditable to their ability and temper. They have made admirable arrangements for general and diocesan synods; and parochial management has been carefully provided for. The sustentation of the clergy and the endowment of churches and colleges have been generously met by willing contributions. Henceforth the State nomination of bishops ceases, and they will be elected by the Church itself. With New Year's Day this new Free Church will start happy, hopeful, and vigorous, and we wish for it a career of great evangelistic usefulness. Churchmen in England, bewildered by contrary legal decisions, and chafing under the enthralment of State control, may envy the freedom of the Church in the Sister Isle.
Several consecrations of bishops have taken place recently, but perhaps the most noticeable is that of the Rev. Allan Webb to the bishopric of Orange River Free State, South Africa. The ceremonial took place in the cathedral at Inverness, Scotland, at the very same time that a similar service was proceeding at St. Paul's Cathedral, London. Every clergyman of the Established Church in England is bound to swear canonical obedience to the primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury. But the Church in South Africa has been declared, in Colonso suits, to be voluntary and free, and consequently Dr. Colenso, originally appointed by the Crown and under the jurisdiction of the Primate of All England, has been able to set the Metropolitan of South Africa at defiance. To protect himself against such difficulties in future, his Lordship of Capetown determined that this new bishop should be consecrated independently of the Church in England and its primate. Thus he vindicates the freedom of the South African Church, and, to some extent, his own equality with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Thus, also, he illustrates how unworkable is the Colonial Bishoprics Act, or perhaps how easily it may be interpreted and applied otherwise than was originally intended. Much correspondence respecting this particular consecration took place between the English and African Metropolitans, but the sturdy African maintained his independence, and Bishop Eden, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, Bishop Abraham, and Bishop Suther, of Aberdeen, took part in the impressive religious ceremonial.
High Churchmen seem to be doing their best to widen the breach, between Conformists (if, strictly speaking, there are any such) and Nonconformists. The Rev. Canon Jebb, one of the Old Testament Revision Company, has withdrawn. His reasons, as given by himself, are “I am fully persuaded that this most religious work ought not to have been committed by Convocation to any but members of the Church of England, and, according to the almost invariable precedents of past times, to her ordained ministers—those to whom the keeping and interpretation of God's Word is specially entrusted, according to the will, as I firmly believe, of CHRIST himself. . . . I perceive, with great grief and alarm, the fulfilment of that which I apprehended from the beginning—that is, the establishment of a virtual equality, in the prosecution of a matter sa sacred, between the members of our Church and those extern to our communion.” We can scarcely express in terms too scornful our contempt and pity for the narrow-mindedness which would rather people should believe a lie than receive the truth through unconsecrated channels. This clerical claim of mystio superiority over the ministers and members of free Christian churches should be indignantly repudiated.
Another instance of this High Church intolerance is published in the Methodist Recorder of the 9th ult. A Mrs. PAIN, of Colebrar Street, Charlton, had once attended at the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in that town; but having declared her intention to join the Wesleyan Church there, the assistant-curate waited upon her, admonished her, and finding her resolute, declared her to be “damned.” The Rev. H. P. Hughes, B.A., the resident Wesleyan minister, sent a written protest to the young clergyman, who replied in a very curt note, to the effect that be “was utterly unable to understand how a layman and a non-parishioner” could venture to call in question any “ministerial” act of his. The letter was addressed to the Wesleyan minister as “Esq.," an amusing little trait of clerical assumption almost feminine in its refinement. A term or two at Spurgeon's College would be of service to this young clergyman, who so unworthily “magnifies his office.”
Worse still, the Rev. FREDERIC AUBERT GACE, M.A., Vicar of Great Barling, Essex, has favoured our benighted world with a small catechism, strongly spiced with Romanism, as it asserts the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception and denies the doctrine of Justification by Faith only. It is very bitter against Dissenters. After denying the right of the Church of Scotland to be called a Church, he turns to English Nonconformists, and asks, “In what light must we view those who have never been baptized ? Answer: As the heathen, whether they be old or young, notwithstanding they may be in the habit of attending Divine worship." What will our Baptist friends say to this wholesale excommunication P"But,” says Mr. GACE, “we have amongst us various sects and denominations who go by the general name of Dissenters. In what light are we to consider them ? Answer: As heretics. Is their worship, then, a laudable service ? Answer: No, because they worship God according to their own evil and corrupt imaginations, and not according to his revealed will, and, therefore, their worship is idolatrous. Is Dissent a great sin? Answer: Yes. But why have not Dissenters been excommunicated ? Answer: Because the law of the land does not allow the wholesome law of the Church to be acted upon. What class of Dissenters should we be most upon our guard against ? Answer: Those who imitate the most nearly the true Church of Christ. Is it wicked, then, to enter a meeting-house at all? Answer: Most assuredly. . . . In this country no other church exists save the Anglican Church, other 80called churches being either schismatical or heretical.” Such language is an insult to thousands of the purest and noblest Christians in England, and is an outrage upon our common Christianity Infidels laugh at such wholesale vituperation, and with bitterest sarcasm exclaim, “See how these Christians love one another.” The clergyman that can demean himself to such coarse insolence should be disowned and unfrocked. In pleasing contrast to the above instances of High Church bigotry, we notice the appearance of Bishop Ryan on the platform of a Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Meeting at Bradford, and the gift of a site, with £100 donation, by the Duke of Devonshire, for a Wesleyan chapel at Kirkley, in the Ulverstone Circuit. We are glad also to see that the Marquis of Cholmondeley has been proaching in the Primitive Methodist chapel at Crewe.
The religious world of Scotland has been greatly agitated for some months past by what is known as the Dalkeith heresy case. The minister implicated is the Rev. FERGUS FERGUSON, of the United Presbyterian Church. The case came before the Edinburgh Presbytery three weeks ago, and was decided, by twenty-three votes against sixteen, adversely to Mr. Ferguson. It appears that he holds some singular views anent angels, but the special charge against him is that he teaches that“ Christ, during the interval of his death and resurrection, went to Hades, revealed himself to the world of Noah's time, and this representative fact suggests that a revelation of Obrist might be made in Hades to the heathens who, like the antediluvians, had received no revelation of Him here." The majority decided that “they find no warrant in Scripture for this opinion," and that he must be “counselled against publicly teaching such speculations or opinions." The Rev. GEORGE GILFILLAN, disapproving of the decision, says that this event "constitutes an era in the ecclesiastical history of Scotland.”
Memoirs and Recent Deaths.
HENRY RIDLEY, HIGH WILLINGTON, DURHAM CIRCUIT. Religious biography may be considered desirable on several grounds, but chiefly as a means of exhibiting, beyond the range of personal influ. ence, the religion of Jesus Christ as exemplified in the life and death of the departed; thus securing an increased revenue of praise to our common Saviour, and prompting survivors more diligently to follow in the path of those “who through faith and patience now inherit the promises."
With this object before me, prompted, too, by filial affection, I
have consented briefly to sketch the life of my sainted father, who, through a long and consistent career, enjoyed the Christian religion, exemplified its various graces, laboured to spread its benign influence, and is now entered into rest.
Henry, eldest son of Thomas and Elizabeth Ridley, was born September 20th, 1803. Blessed with pious parents (members of the Methodist New Connexion), he was favoured in early life with religious instruc. tion and example, and was thus preserved from many of the sins and follies into which youth so frequently and so recklessly plunge.
The circumstances under which he