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work. Men whose lives had been disciplined by severe and various study; men of chastened passions and solemn meditation ; men who had gone through the humanizing duties of pastoral gradation from the village pulpit to the episcopal throne, might be thought a happy counterpoise to the hoary worldliness or youthful rashness of mere temporal Peers ; they would rebuke, we might suppose, the assumptions of aristocracy, and be as the voice of God for the rights of the poor. Men who proclaimed that gospel which is full of mercy and compassion, would resist oppression to the last, and denounce sanguinary laws with the whole force of their authority; men who were followers of peace would arrest the blood-hand of war, and quell with all gentle suasion the horrid spirit of destruction; men appointed to be teachers of the ignorant, and lights to the blind, would be the friends of universal instruction ; men who were the Priests of that God before whom all are equal, the Apostles of that Jesus who lived and died for all, would be ever the friends of liberty and brotherhood. But, I may ask, when have the Bishops, as a body, not been against the people, and with the wealthy and the noble? When have they been the first to come forward to denounce long existing, tolerated, but oppressive, abuses ? When have they raised their voice, as Ministers of God, against Ministers of the Crown, to avert the horrid curse of war? When have they given their influence for a free and generous education, which should be full and boundless as the heart of charity? When, rather, have they not thrown their most inveterate opposition against it? When is it that a single effort of national liberty or religious has met their cordial support? To the moment of despair they stood against the Catholic and the Dissenter, to the last hour they will also resist the Jew. The defender of the wronged, the pleader for the weak, the opponent of sanctified prejudices, the enthusiast for human reforms, the advocate for peace, the apostle of general education, have never in their most
hopeless hour raised their eyes towards the bench of Bishops with any expectations of support.
With wealth, with influence, with law, and with scholarship, the Church has done, and is doing no great spiritual work for her country, or for mankind, proportioned to her means. She makes a show of upholding her Creeds, but to many, even of her own members, they are but empty sounds or convenient mockeries. When we look for any permanent impression on the popular mind, we have yet to ask .concerning the Church, what has she done? Has she Christianized any great tracts of Heathenism? The English Establishment, as a Church, has exhibited no missionary zeal, and can show no missionary triumphs. Individuals and bodies that belong to her communion, have undoubtedly been active in the great movements that distinguish modern times, but the impulse has been from outside the Church, and not from within it—from the zeal of the Sectaries, and not from the Creeds or Constitution of the Church. On the contrary, of those who never owned the Establishment, you might find proofs of Missionary zeal from Indus to the Pole, and from Andes to the Alps. But has she protestantized our own empire ? Consult the writings of Doctor Baines, or those of Doctor Wiseman; nay, let the lamentations of Reformation Society itself, ever wailing over the increase of Popery, give the answer; look through the villages and the glens of England, where Roman Catholic Chapels are starting up as from the earth, and you will find the answer fully justified. Ask it in the cities and the mountains of Ireland, the shout of millions will proclaim what Established Protestantism has done with all her Creeds and Clergy after centuries of existence, and a countless expenditure. Three hundred years have nearly expired since the reformed standard has been planted on that soil, and after all the spoliation and persecution to which the country has been subjected, after all the blood and sorrow that have been expena
the work of compulsory proselytism, Popery has grown stronger, and Protestantism is expiring. The people pay with repugnance a priesthood in whom they have not faith, but no power can force them to the worship in which they have no heart, and they prefer to be taxed rather than be taught. They are repelled further and further from that system which commenced in a blunder, and has been continued by rapacity, which reverses the precepts of Christ, using the sword where he commands it to be sheathedwhich reverses the course of the olden Israelites finding a land of milk and honey, but leaving it a wilderness, having the pillar of fire always before, and the pillar of cloud ever behind; the one kept in flame by hatred and strife, and the other continually dark with maledictions and tears. But admitting the difficulties of proselytism, examine the moral state of those over whom the Church has had undivided control—those with whom there has been least of foreign interference, and I may appeal to her most strenuous defenders, whether she has not allowed thousands of human souls to grow up around her for whom she provided no shelter, whose hearts and wants she made no effort to reach: they lived without her teaching, they mourned without her solace, they sickened without her prayer, and until she received the fees for their burial, she was ignorant of their existence. Yet, after all, by many she has been called “ The poor man's Church.” It is true that for some years past, and especially at present, there has been a species of excitement and activity in the church: but so far as these have moral life in them, so far as they concern the spiritual interests of the people, whence did they originate? Where were they before John Wesley and Whitfield raised their soul-piercing cries, and awoke the sense of immortality that was dormant in the minds of besotted multitudes ? Did the church join with these men, or rather did it not persecute, calumniate, expel them—say and do all manner of evil against
them? What at the present hour is the activity of the church? Much, it may be, is sincere and conscientious, but greatly more an emulation with dissenters in which the pregnant elements are jealousy and fear. Much, it may be, of disinterested action for the souls of men, but more it is to be feared for the order and the church. Great excitement there is in the Establishment, but little of calm and healthy actiona mighty stir of polemics that make few converts, and of societies that beat the air. The church has neither union within, nor peace without. Her hand is against all, and the hands of all are against her. She holds forth creeds as the symbols of unity, and yet within her own courts are all sorts of divisions, a chaos of voices that make her the very Babel of theology; here is one preaching the grace of Palagius, and there another that of Augustine ; one arguing for the hell of Calvin, and another all but teaching the purgatory of the pope: one a Boanerges for the Bible, and another an apostle for tradition ; with one, Rome is the mother of abominations, and with another she is the mistress of churches. Amidst the din, then, of polemics, politics, and theological contradictions, of inward confusion and outward strifes, how are we to catch the voice of moral power and of gospel truth? The truth must be told, there is no grand or concentrative energy of any sort in the church; neither faith nor freedom, neither bold speculation nor a mighty spiritual zeal; there is no room even for a gigantic fanaticism or a picturesque superstition. upon the whole the strife is of this world, and for it; a strite for wealth or place, in which the spiritual is swallowed in the earthly. With all her riches and honours; with all her show of dignities and pride of prelacy, she is yet poor in enlig. ened esteem, poorer still in general affection; without authority to sway the superstitious or liberality to attach the thir ing, she has neither the submission of faith nor the approva tion of reason. She has, considering her position and I fulfilled no great Christian or Protestant mission ; is she ti
in a humbler sphere, the friend of general education ? Passing over the Universities, which with a heavy hand she has bolted against dissenters, is she favourable to the instruction of the youthful poor? No: except in connection with her ecclesiastical supremacy. Until recently she had no zeal whatever in the matter : but other parties becoming active, under the broad gaze of public observation, both her fears and her interest were awakened. Whilst others were toiling, she for very shame could not sit wholly idle, and she therefore adopted education, so far as it was an instrument to counteract her rivals or to preserve her authority. But to the last and to the death, she is the sworn enemy to any system of popular instruction which is comprehensive, liberal, and unsectarian. In this great country, where, thanks to law and not to creeds, each man may hold and speak his own opinion, she meets with defiance and resistance every movement towards a large and equal distribution of knowledge, for lack of which the people are literally perishing. In a country like this where sects are so many and so various, and where each has an equal claim on the blessings of civilized institutions, with a bigotry equalled only by its injustice, she would usurp the monopoly of national instruction. This is in the true spirit of creeds, and however repugnant to Christian equity is fully consistent with worldly policy.
When the church of England seceded from that of Rome, if she cut off some theological errors, she showed no such disposition respecting her earthly riches. It cannot be doubted that in the Reformed Establishment, a greed of lucre remained as deep as was ever in the Romish, less ideal in its form, and more selfish in its spirit. In our times men absorb the interests of their church in the interests of themselves, in olden times men lost themselves in the glory of their church; in that was centered every thing, even passion itself, as one great and mighty sentiment. From this it was arose the solemn structure of universal empire; from this sprung forth the