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If a spirit of wise economy could be infused generally into the administration of charitable funds now existing, we should already have made considerable progress in the matter of finance,' by creating a large additional revenue to the church, on the same principle that the dower of Harpagon's * wife is made up of the enumeration of the things she could do without; and more than this, a degree of confidence would be inspired which would greatly encourage further contributions. The people of this country are eminently
. practical. When they hear the good that has been done in the next parish by the additional curate, and the great exertions made to reclaim the lawless population in the neighbouring great town, they will give their alms with more hearty goodwill than if they saw a dozen specimens of the middle pointed,' with every gable surmounted by the richest symbols of the church triumphant.t
In treating the subject of finance, the Committee limit themselves to the best means of obtaining contributions from what, in conformity rather with the usage of other parts of Christendom' than the phraseology of our church, they call the faithful.' Many, no doubt, will naturally turn with longing eyes to the weekly offertory, which in theory seems admirably adapted for the purpose of raising contributions, and is the means appointed by the Church. Mr. Robertson f professes himself “unable to discover or conjecture any respectable motive for the violent opposition which is made to its revival.' It is not worth while to dispute about the epithet to be applied, but unfortunately several motives which act strongly on human nature may be assigned. In the first place, the addition of the prayer for the Church Militant after a service already too long, and which has in every way anticipated its petitions, is unsupportably languid and tedious to the educated part of the congregation, and is extremely inconvenient to poor men whose domestic arrangements are with difficulty made to square with the length of the actual service. Even a very slight addition is found by experience to be very objectionable. It is the additional pound which breaks the camel's back. But the most important reason is, that this innovation or renovation' is associated in men's minds with doctrines for which they have the utmost repugnance. It is considered as the outward sign of that which they most dread and
* Molière, ‘L'Avare.'
The cross fleurée, we are told by the Ecclesiologist, is the symbol of the Church triumphant, and alone is proper for the exterior of the building. It
often so constructed as to be scarcely recognisable by the unlearned as a cross at all, and is generally very much out of keeping with the plain parish churches to which it is the fashion to affix it. t How shall we conform to the Liturgy ?? p. 198.
repudiate, a leaning towards Romanism. The Committee tell us they have had under their consideration the subject of the revival of the offertory.' But their emphatic silence condemns it, and they are right. At a moment when they desire to unite men of all shades of opinion in one common effort for the spread of gospel truth, it would be worse than madness to revive the bitterness of controversy in every parish throughout the land. Selfishness is always too willing to refuse its dole without giving it the pretext of principle wherewith to cloke its meanness; and if all this is insufficient, there is another reason which alone might be conclusive. The same objection which caused the discontinuance of the weekly offertory, or rather which prevented its ever being fully established in the church, applies equally to its revival. It would fail entirely as a financial scheme; the public as a body are not yet prepared for a weekly contribution. Public opinion is not in so advanced a state that a man would feel ashamed to pass the plate by, and the weekly offertory would become a painful mockery, such as was the 'brief 'of former days, and such as the Rubric acknowledges it to be when it directs on days of no communion only one of the sentences to be read. The same objection does not apply to the gradual formation of a society for voluntary contributions in each parish, whose example and solicitations could not fail to influence others; and thus in
sibly the greater part of the congregation, including all the most respectable and probably the most opulent members of it, would be brought to co-operate in the work of · Home Missions.' The ultra-rubricians we hope may be reconciled to this plan when we add our conviction that, if ever it be possible to revive the offertory, it will be when the majority of each parish have already familiarized their minds with the duty of a weekly contribution. Beyond the weekly subscriptions, the Committees of both the Upper and Lower House concur in recommending two yearly collections throughout each diocese. The safeguard suggested by the Upper House for securing the appropriation of the fund, and giving the laity an interest in it, are also well worth attention: they recommend “That accurate accounts be kept in every parish of all sums so raised and of their appropriation, such accounts to be duly audited [by the churchwardens we presume) and transmitted annually by the clergyman to the bishop of his diocese.'— Report of Upper House
. 8. No mode of increasing the voluntary contributions must be left untried, for we entirely agree with the Committee that to them only can we look for adequate aid to promote the work of Church extension. Little as yet can be expected from the public exchequer. The labours of ecclesiastical or cathedral commis
sioners may introduce improvements in the machinery of portions of our system and better adjustment of detail; but nothing more -few indeed would now be found to advocate any measure which savoured of equalizing the incomes of the clergy. The prizes in the Church are like the air-bladders of a certain exotic waterplant, which serve as buoys to keep its leaves and flowers above the surface.
We have now gone through all the most important topics introduced by the Committee of the Lower House into their Report. Church extension to different sections of its promoters presents two distinct ideas. To some it suggests such an enlargement of the powers of the Church, and such reconstruction of its mechanism, as may make it a fitter engine for the spread of gospel truth. To others it expresses rather such an application of the means it can immediately command as is adapted to the exigency of the moment. The one party bestow their first and chief care on the instrument, the other on the work; and while each might profitably learn something of the other, the one charges the other with precipitation and irregularity, and in turn is accused of sacrificing substance to shadows, and of wasting precious time in pursuing what is unattainable, and theories which can never be realized. In a simpler state of society, and a less discordant state of religious feeling, these two different views of Church extension might lead to nearly similar results. But under the present circumstances of the country and the Church, in the midst of the prejudices and passions of party, the multiplicity of sects, the envious hostility provoked by an established Church, and the boundless toleration enforced not only by law, but by public opinion, much that is theoretically necessary to the ideal of a church' is practically impossible. Could this truth be generally acknowledged by those who consider themselves the chief champions of the Church, good men would no longer let their zeal evaporate in aspirations for the restoration of discipline,' the infusion of vital energy,' the revival of concentrated action, and other vague generalities, which serve to conceal rather than explain their meaning, or perhaps disguise from themselves their want of clear and definite objects. In truth, if to exalt the Church were our primary object, there is no way to attain it but by increasing her usefulness, and swelling the numbers of those who look to her as their guide in the way of life. Dr. Wordsworth considers it as a national sin that the legislature makes no exertions to extend the national Church. Granted ; but, to compel, or rather to enable the legislature thus to exert itself, the Church must make its activity more felt among the masses of the people. The theoretical view of Church extension must give way to the practical. There is needed a fresh supply of labourers, and Vol. 103.—No. 205.
that in no stinted measure ; but we see as yet no necessity to make alterations in the standard of qualification for holy orders, or to impose any new conditions as to the term of the diaconate, and still less to change its exclusively sacred character. To obtain the necessary funds no exertion should be spared, but the first step is to make the wisest and most economical application of existing resources. Besides the Scripture-Readers' Association various other societies and institutions, set on foot as occasion called for them, conducted and supported by churchmen, have organised an extensive machinery for missionary purposes, well adapted to the exigence of the times, and suited to the spirit of the people. For these we would intreat the unprejudiced consideration of Churchmen without distinction of party. Let their nature and their working be carefully examined, together with the modifications they may require, and the improvements of which they are susceptible. If they cannot be supported it may be worth inquiry how far they can be imitated. It seems the prevailing notion that these institutions have pre-occupied the ground ; in fact, they have done little more than prepare it. We have seen already how difficult it is to give an organized body like the established church' the irregular energy of the Dissenting associations, unprotected and, therefore, unfettered by the law; and where so much caution is required it is well to profit by the experience of others. The Church finds a variety of instruments which are ready made to her hands, and court her acceptance. * But if she rejects them from an idle punctilio, because she did not herself suggest and preside over their construction, preferring special agencies' of untried efficacy and of controversial origin and tendency, she will lose the substance of authority by grasping at the shadow, and will throw away the opportunity of placing herself at the head of the movement (which, if not directed by her, will be carried on independently of her) for evangelizing the country.
But there is one thing more which, beyond all other means, would promote the cause of Church extension at home. If, said a leading separatist to me the other day (we are quoting a sermon by the Archdeacon of Coventry), the English Church only knew its power and would throw itself into the hearts of the people, it would be irresistible.' This is perfectly true, and we may add .'
, never was there a time when the Church so well deserved the love of the people, never we believe did a Church in its polity so closely approximate the Apostolic model ; never, in this world
* In the general view which we are now compelled to take we are unable to enter into particulars; but examination of the already organised machinery for missionary purposes ought to be one of the first exertions of the promoters of Church Extension. We may, perhaps, recur to the subject at some future time.
does not oppose
of shortcomings and temptations, was there a Church more purely administered; never was there a clergy who, as a body, were so far weaned from secular pursuits and devoted to their duties; but there is a drawback—a time of zeal is a time of wild fancies and ill-regulated aspirations. Many are wont to give way to their feelings, or to take counsel of their imaginations, and, while the pomp which Rome gives her ritual, her seductive dogma, and the mysterious dignity with which she invests her priesthood, have drawn some within her pale, others, who retain their nominal allegiance to the national Church, endeavour to strain her Articles and disfigure her ritual to bring them into the nearest possible conformity with the Romish model. And these men, by their extravagance and duplicity-a conscientious duplicity, we doubt not, but on that account only the more reprehensible-have excited a distrust which the clergy, as a body, have not deserved, but which they have not been sufficiently alert to dispel. Many are the good feelings and the plausible reasonings which deter a moderate man from recording his dissent from the more intemperate of his brethren. He fears to mark a schism, he is willing to make what petty concessions he can for the sake of peace
and to secure the appearance of uniformity, forgetting that what he
he is supposed to approve, and that the concessions he has made with reluctance, are mistaken for a willingness ! to go the same road as far as he dare.
We cannot understand how men, in deference to certain of their brethren whose opinions they profess to disapprove, or to gratify their own taste in matters which they acknowledge to be unimportant, can permit themselves to irritate and to alienate their flocks by the introduction of changes in ritual and in externals, to which public opinion attaches great consequence. This is no subject for trifling. Confidence,' says Lord Chatham, "is a plant of slow growth, but it may languish and die suddenly. It should be as jealously guarded as commercial credit or female honour. Appearances must not be sacrificed, nor even unjust suspicions raised. It is as the great bulwark against the encroachments of Rome that the Church of England is valued by the people, and is esteemed even by the Protestant Dissenters, and whatever tends to derogate from this character lowers her in public affection and respect. To impress this upon their brethren would be well worthy the character of both Houses of Convocation. Let the Church only be ready on all occasions to show that she sees as clearly as in times past and will fulfil as faithfully her protestant mission, and we are persuaded that she will not call in vain for the supplies, great as they are, which are needed to carry out Church Extension.