Imatges de pàgina

lor to preserve the chain of episcopacy unbroken, and to continue the connexion between the old and the Reformed Church. They wished not to deprive the Church of England of the authority of antiquitybut desired to preserve its Catholicity, and, above all things, to prevent it from being degraded to a mere sect. In this they were right. But there were dissentients from this mode of proceeding, even in the Church itself. If there were, on the one hand, the Jewels and the Hookers on the other, there were the Cartwrights and the Sampsons. la like manner, in a subsequent generation, if there were a Laud, there was an Abbot. Between the two parties the Church, like a pendulum, vacillated first to this side and then to that ; and though we may rejoice that by this means the clock was kept going, we have also reason to regret that leisure was not allowed for its proper regulation. A strong antidote was required to purge out the poison of Popery, and a stronger on account of the recent institution of the order of the Jesuits, and which, mighty as it was, has scarcely been specific enough, even to this time, to eradicate the venom. This necessity justifies the course in which the times ran, since none other was perhaps possible; but pity it was that the puritan principle should have prevented the establishment of institutions, equally justifiable by reason and authority, but which, mainly because they were so justifiable, were rejected and forbidden.

The Church of England, therefore, has to complain that this period of its transition partook rather of the character of revolution than reformation. All that she could do was to arrest some of its effectsin this it prevented much evil, but it was obliged also to permit much. The Roman Catholic Church had been defective in discipline, to which the rivalry between the secular and regular clergy, and between the several orders of the latter, was fatal. In these respects, with all its apparent uniformity, it was a house divided against itself, and therefore it stood not. The communion service of the Church of England confesses and laments the want of discipline, also, in the Reformed Church. Our Reformers endeavoured to remedy it, but in vain. The want of provision for the clergy, moreover, is a serious defect. Cranmer sought, with his characteristic sincerity, to better the condition of the inferior clergy, and was followed in the attempt by Jewel and Laud. Much of this might be remedied, if, of the tithes so shamefully abstracted from the Church, some portion were, from time to time, by their present proprietors, annexed to their own livings. It would be but (as is rightly observed by the Rev. J. J. Blunt, in his excellent Sketch of the Reformation) " a reduction, perhaps, of fifty or a hundred pounds per year from an elder brother's rent-roll, to the augmentation, to the like amount, of a younger brother's benefice." Unless the provision for the clergy be enlarged, if pluralities and non-residence be to be disallowed, better, far better, would it be to adopt the recommendation of Milton, and entrust “ the piety and conscience of Englishmen, as members of the Church, in the election of pastors to functions that nothing concern a monarch, as well as their worldly wisdoms are privileged, as members of the State, in suffraging their knights and burgesses to matters that concern him nearly." Satisfied as we are of the incompetency of popular opinion to decide in the higher concernments, whether of Church or State, there can be no doubt, (as it is, indeed, proved in the ranks of dissent,) that whom the people chose they would provide for, however inadequately, after a better fashion than that now current as the consequence of“ imperious and stately election in the Church.” They would feel that “ the minister, whose calling and end is spiritual, ought to be honoured as a father and physician to the soul, (if he be found to be so,) with a soul-like and disciple-like reverence, which is, indeed, the dearest and most affectionate honour, most to be desired by a wise man, and such as will easily command a free and plentiful provision of outward necessaries, without his further care of this world.”


Milton, whose language we have just quoted for the sake of the authority, saw in this mode of election a conformity of the Church government to the civil. This is the magnificent way in which he has chosen to express his opinion—"There is no civil government that hath been known, no, not the Spartan, nor the Roman, though both for this respect so much praised by the divine Polybius, more divinely and harmoniously tuned, more equally balanced as it were by the hand and scale of justice, than is the commonwealth of England; where, under a free and untutored monarch, the noblest, worthiest, and most prudent men, with full approbation and suffrage of the people, have in their power the supreme and final determination of highest affairs. Now, if conformity of Church discipline to the civil be so desired, there can be nothing more parallel, more uniform, than when under the sovereign prince, Christ's vicegerent, using the sceptre of David, according to God's law, the godliest, the wisest, the learnedest ministers in their several charges have the instructing and disciplining of God's people, by whose full and free election they are consecrated to that holy and equal aristocracy.” Now, although we are far, very far, from being advocates for the system of popular election to Churches, we feel little difficulty in asserting that, in proportion as the State becomes more democratical, so will the Church-for the State was far less so than Milton imagined in the time of which he has above written. And although such democratic principle is incapable of producing all the good effects, and the high rate of fitness for the cure of souls, which the more exclusive mode, if proceeded in in the right spirit, might originate and accomplish ; yet, as things are, it is not difficult to believe that, in certain cases, “ if, in weighing these several offices, their difference in time and quality be cast in, they will not turn the beam of equal judgement the moiety of a scruple.” Moreover, it is one of the chief evils of the Reformation, that it insufficiently provided for the religious discipline of the people, and failed to establish itself in the hearts of the lower classes. “The attachment of the peasantry,” says Mr. Southey, “ to their roods and puppetries was broken, but no wiser attachment was substituted for it. The Romanists impressed their imaginations—the Reformed Clergy failed to im- . press their understandings. They plucked up the tares, but they were not equally diligent in sowing the good seed. In Catholic countries, the people are passionately attached to the faith of their fathers; while the higher classes, if they have any degree of knowledge, are either unbelievers, or at least indifferents. In England there is a great

spirit of religion in the higher ranks; but the body of the people care little for the National Church, and are easily won from it. This difference between the two Churches is striking, and as strikingly exemplifies the superior policy of the one, as it does the truth of the other.”

This is the most important aspect under which the subject can be considered. The present is no time to doubt whether Cranmer's wish for the conversion of the cathedrals into theological colleges-a measure which, in one point, would have completed the Reformationwould have weakened that alliance between Church and State, which is supposed to be preserved by the secular intercourse of the clergy, and the connexions of private friendship, and private tuition, which are formed in our schools and universities or whether the provision which our cathedrals (on their present footing) offer to the younger sons of powerful families, (as the monasteries once did,) pledges not those families more deeply to the maintenance of the Establishment. The pillars of the Church are not the rich, but the poor—for to the poor was the Gospel preached. It is to the neglect by the Church of the inferior orders of society-an unavoidable neglect, and not chargeable on individuals, many of whom have manfully, if unavailingly, struggled agaiost it—that the chief evil, accidentally resulting from the Reformation, is attributable. Suffice it to say, that Cranmer's theological colleges, with the attachment thereto of readers of divinity, of Hebrew, and of Greek,—would probably have opposed to the puritan heresy, the effectual opposition of a learned clergy. The sects have taken advantage of the undefended positions of the Church, and have there established their strongholds. An armed body of orthodox divines, in the several districts of the nation, would have created and given confidence to public opinion, in favour of the Establishment. A regular theological education also, including Hebrew, and the Fathers, would have increased the labourers in the vineyard; and, if falling systematically to the lot of all intended for the ministry, cheap as it might have been made, would have raised from among the inferior classes, those youths of genius of whom nature is sometimes fertile. It was by " yeomen's sons," says Latimer, “ that the faith in Christ had been hitherto maintained chiefly." The attachment of the common people to the friars, proceeded from the feeling that they had a personal interest and relationship in their ministry. A well regulated class of preachers of this kind, “ for the stray sheep of the house of Israel,” is much to be desiderated; a class of orthodox preachers, connected with the National Establishment, who, in the conversion of the profane vulgar, should draw them into no sectarian fold, but into the bosom of the Catholic Church. This is the one thing needful, it was needful in times past-it is needful now! And in consequence of this need, the Reformation, excellent as it was in other respects, is rightly chargeable with the important sin of having, till within the last sixty years, effected no change in the character of the lower orders. Their religious feelings had been rather deteriorated than improved, in their having been weaned, rather than won, from popery. It has been well said, that the breasts at which they had sucked in superstition had been withdrawn ; but no provision had been made, as in Scotland, for rearing them upon more salubrious food. Lament

N, 8.-VOL. VI.

able it is to reflect, and it ought to operate as a warning how we engage in revolutions under the name of Reform,--that for the first one hundred and fifty years after the Reformation, much of the evil prevalent in society, whether politically or religiously considered, inhered in the very nature and essence of the change effected by it; and that of the good, which for the latter century and a half, has been enjoyed where it has obtained, much might equally have been expected without any alteration at all. These things are undeniable; and the only set off which we have to balance against them, is, the utility of controversy, as awakening the intellect, and dispensing in, struction. But beyond the instruction so diffused, none appears by any other means to have been distributed. No provision was made for the sufficient education of the people. Reading and writing were as scarce among them as they had been two centuries before; and their habitations, their dress, their hours, their habits of life remained unaltered, the cultivation of the potato, and the use of tea, excepted.

The convents had been aforetime the general academies, and the speaker of the Lower House, in the fourth year of Elizabeth, lamented the loss of such a number of places of education. The establishment of schools, nevertheless, was regarded with jealousy. There were probably not more than three in all London, and yet Dean Colet found difficulty in founding that of St. Paul's. This, however, was on the eve of the Reformation. Add to this, the condition of the students at the Universities was most miserable; Edward would have founded many grammar schools as seminaries of sound learning and of religious education-a few he succeeded in establishing. They were, however, not sufficient to preserve the popular masses from theological empiricism-an evil which would have been more extensive than even now it is, but for the private foundations, that are to be preferred in almost all respects to our commercial schools.

What a glorious task it would have been for our modern Reformers, if, in their plans of amendment, and for the promotion of the intellectual march, they had reared up the improved superstructure of the State on the firmer and repaired basis of the Church Establishment ! Only pious men will make good subjects. How wise would it have been in them to rectify first the defects of the Reformation; and instead of a money qualification for voters, whose tenure, as attached to a borough corporation, is founded not on the possession, but the honest pursuit of wealth, to connect the privilege with institutions completitory of the designs of our Ecclesiastical Reformers, and thus united political powers with the interests of the Church Establishment. But the interests of the Church were not in the hearts of the pseudo-reformers of these degenerate days.

Turn we from them, and make our appeal to the Church herself ; and to her we say, and say again :-Preach the Gospel to the Poor! The Church of England, if she be to live, must cease to be a landlord's Church only; it must be also, under proper regulation, the Church of the People. The clergy must not chiedy desiderate a well-dressed congregation, but should labour to fill their churches with the labouring classes-nay, to the outcasts of society they should go forth. We repeat that they must not look on their calling as a genteel profession only, but one of hard and disagreeable duty, which must be borne willingly for the sake of Him who willingly bore the cross for us. Four sorts of services, says an old preacher, must be done by them who would go to heaven-hard service, costly service, derided service, and forlorn service. The whole of these services the clergy must bind upon their shoulders, and must, moreover, go out into the highways and the desolate places of society, or, if they do not, God will give the reward with the labour to other hands. This is avouched by the institutions of Methodism in this country-and warning should be taken by the example.

May not, too, advantage be taken of the work thus done by the divine permission, though by other hands, and of the workers too? This is a point of view frequently brought under notice, and advocated by more than one prelate of the Church of England. “ Concerning the general and remoter consequences of Methodism,” says Mr. Southey, « opinions will differ. They who consider the wide-spreading schism to which it has led, and who know that the welfare of the country is vitally connected with its Church Establishment, may think that the evil overbalances the good. But the good may endure, and the evil be only for a time. In every other sect there is an inherent spirit of hostility to the Church of England, too often and too naturally connected with diseased political opinions. So it was in the beginning, and so it will continue to be, as long as those sects endure. But Methodism is free from this. The extravagances which accompanied its growth are no longer encouraged, and will altogether be discountenanced, as their real nature is understood. This cannot be doubted. It is in the natural course of things that it should purify itself gradually from whatever is objectionable in its institutions. Nor is it beyond the bounds of reasonable hope, that, conforming itself to the original intention of its founders, it may again draw towards the Establishment from which it has seceded, and deserve to be recognized as an auxiliary institution; its ministers being analogous to the regulars, and its members to the tertiaries and various confraternities of the Romish Church. The obstacles to this are surely not insuperable, perhaps not so difficult as they may appear. And were this effected, John Wesley would then be ranked, not only among the most remarkable and influential men of his age, but among the greatest benefactors of his country and his kind."

But nowhere had the Church to contend against lack of zeal, or positive outrage among her own children. A sceptical disposition is the natural consequence of those systems which call upon every man to form his own judgement upon points of faith, without respect to the authority of other ages, or of wiser minds, without reference to his own ignorance or his own incapacity; which leave humility out of the essentials of the Christian character, and, when they pretend to erect their superstructure of rational belief, build upon the shifting sands of vanity and self-conceit. And the great body of the populace? They knew nothing more of religion than its forms. “There was the Bible, indeed, but, to the great body of the labouring people, the Bible was, even in the letter, a sealed book. For that system of general education which the fathers of the English Church desired,

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