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chapels, and may be considered as numbering, perhaps, half a million within the pale of their communion. Their increase has excited alarm, although the true ground of alarm has been overlooked, which is itself the cause of that increase,—the growth of a neglected population.
Upon the whole, our view of the state of the people is not more melancholy or reproachful, than that which a Quarterly Reviewer (whom it is easy to recognize as Dr. Southey) has given in an early volume of that Journal. "The condition of the in' ferior clergy,' says the Writer, though it still requires improve‘ment, has been greatly improved during the last century; but 'the effects of this long continued evil are still felt. For while * the means of religious instruction were thought insufficient, the * population has doubled upon those means; and the conse‘quence has been, that the populace in England are more igno‘rant of their religious duties, than they are in any other Christian * country.* “ It would make any true Christian's heart bleed to * think,” says Bishop Croft, “how many thousand poor souls ' there are in this land, that have no more knowledge of God than ' heathens. Thousands of the mendicant condition never come 'to church, and are never looked after by any; likewise thousands
of mean husbandry men that do come to church, understand no * more of the sermon than brutes. Perchance in their infancy, ' some of them learned a little of their Catechism; that is, they *could, like parruts, say some broken pieces, but never under“stood the meaning of one line; but afterwards, as they grow up 'to be men, grow more babes in religion, so ignorant as scarce to 'know their Heavenly Father, and are admitted to the Sacra'ment of the Lord's Supper, before they are able to give an ac*count of the sacrament of Baptism. Tlrus it is generally in the * country, and in the city almost as bad ; partly for the reason
before specified, and partly by reason the number in many pa'rishes is greater than any one pastor can have a due care of; he 'cannot know half the names or faces of them, much less their 'faults and behaviour, which is requisite that he may both in'struct and reprove when there is need.” At this day, the case 'is worse than when the good Bishop of Hereford thus repre
sented it: the increase of population, were there no other cause, 'would unavoidably have made it worse. But we must also re'gard the growth of large towns during the last threescore years; 'the progress of manufactures; and the vices which, unhappily, 'both the one and the other generate, feed, and foster. Thus, ‘ even in the natural course of things, darkness has, in this
* To this remark, we cannot subscribe, unless we take religious duties in a very general sense, as including the rites and ceremonials of all that passes for religion in other countries.
respect, been gaining upon light, just as weeds and brambles spread themselves, when cultivation is neglected. And what is to be looked for, if, while we have been remiss in sowing good seed, the enemy has continued to sow tares, with that pestilent activity by which mischievous and malignant natures are dis'tinguished, what, indeed, but such an increase of pauperism,
profligacy, and crimes of every kind, as that to which the poorrates and the courts of law at this time bear frightful and for"midable testimony !?*
We should excecdingly despise ourselves, we should feel guilty before God, if, as Dissenters, we could derive the slightest conscious pleasure from any controversial advantage afforded by this exposure of the insufficiency- the failure of the Establishment, as a scheme of public instruction. We put entirely out of our consideration at present, the question whether the Established Church is a national benefit or the contrary,-in other words, whether the alliance between the Church and the State works most for or against religion and knowledge ; and we ask, not in the spirit of partizans, but because the reflection has deeply impressed our own minds, What would have been the state of the country at this moment, but for the religious militia', the army of volunteers, rather, whom Dissent and Methodism have raised, taught, marshalled, and distributed over the whole field of spi. ritual contest ? The Churchman is apt to view all this auxiliary force as that of an antagonist. Thus, this same Quarterly Reviewer, deploring the abolition of the regular orders at the Reformation, says: We have felt, and still feel, and perhaps shall ' one day feel yet more severely, the evil consequences of having
disbanded the whole auxiliary force of the church, who did for 'it, what the Methodists and other proselyting sectaries are now doing against it; and performed duties which the parochial clergy have never been numerous enough to discharge in all places, had the zeal in every case existed, and which, however ' zealous, it is not possible that they should discharge in populous ' places.' Dr. Southey might have learned from his friend Sharon Turner's valuable History, that the auxiliary force he speaks of, was much more employed in direct warfare upon the Establishment, than any that is now in operation ;-- that the Friars did much more against the Church, as a secular system, and less for it, than all the sectarian teachers' of the present day put together. But he is right in deploring the oversight, or worse than oversight, which disbanded that great body of popular teachers, while no effort was made to supply their place with an order of Protestant itinerants; every attempt that has been made to co
* Quarterly Review, Vol. XIX. p. 90.
operate with the secular clergy, or to supply their lack of service, by a popular ministry, local or itinerant, having been, on the contrary, sedulously, contemptuously, and cruelly discountenanced and repressed by the rulers of the Church, from the time of Elizabeth till now.
We repeat the question, then : In what state as a nation should we now be, with sixteen millions of people, but for the progress of Dissent and Methodism, and all that they have achieved, both by their direct and their indirect operation, separately, conjointly with the Church, and by the reform and re-animation produced in the institutions of the Establishment ? All that has been done by them, has been barely sufficient to preserve the fabric of society from dissolution and ruin. It has been little more than a convulsive effort of self-defence against the impending danger from immorality and vice. Extraordinary as have been the exertions made to diffuse the benefits of education and Christian instruction, they have been scarcely adequate to counteract the disorganizing and demoralizing agencies that have been simultaneously at work. But for these, the growth of pauperism and crime would have reached a height which the Established Church would have been far too feeble to contend against, although backed by all the powers of the State ; and it is our deliberate conviction, that to the moral effects of the exertions of the Dissenters, the Church of England is mainly indebted, not only for her revival, but for her preservation. If they cannot expect the gratitude of the Church for so unintended a benefit, they are not the less deserving of the respect and gratitude of their country at large. When shall the time come, that our country shall be a dearer name to all parties than our church'?
Mr. Vevers has confined his eulogy to the doings of Methodism ; and we shall not be suspected, we hope, of any strong partiality for that modification of Dissenterism, if we cite from his pages a few paragraphs in illustration of the national importance of that useful order of Christian teachers.
• The great importance of village preaching, and the national benefits arising from the combined labours of the Pastors and teachers of the Methodists, will be apparent, if we advert to the moral and intellectual state of the poorer classes of society, in those parts of the country where Methodism does, and does not, obtain. This has been strikingly displayed in the recent events in the southern counties, when contrasted with the state of the same portion of society in the northern part of the nation. Let a comparison be instituted between the operatives and labourers, in Yorkshire, Lancashire, and Lincolnshire; and the same classes of society in Kent, Sussex, and Hampshire ; and the efficiency and national importance of Methodism will be demonstrated. In the southern counties, incendiarism has been alarmingly prevalent. Instances of the ignorance of the population of those counties, might be adduced in abundance, from the disclosures which were made in the proceedings of the “Special Commission." I assume it as a fact, that provision had been made, or was supposed to have been made, for the moral cultivation and religious instruction of the inhabitants of those counties; or they had been “blindly overlooked by the State, and scandalously neglected by the Church." I am not aware, that more had been done by the State and the Church, for the northern, than for the southern counties. It is therefore presumable, that, as far as the State and Church are concerned, the inhabitants of Yorkshire, Lancashire, and Lincolnshire, would have been as ignorant as the same classes of society in the South. They would have been in a much worse condition; the population being much more dense in manufacturing, than in agricultural districts, their intercourse is more easy, and their habits more demoralizing. Now what are the facts, as to the moral and intellectual state of the people, and the prevalence of Methodism, in the South, and North of England ? In 1823, the Pastors of the Methodist Societies in the West Riding of Yorkshire, were sixty-nine ; and the members were (computing according to the amount of population, as stated in the Parliamentary Returns for 1821,) in the proportion of one, to twenty-one, of the whole population. In the East Riding, the Pastors were sixteen ; and the members in the proportion of one, to thirty. In the North Riding, the Pastors were eighteen; and the members as one, to twenty-three. In Lancashire, the Pastors were forty-eight; and the members as one, to filly. In Lincolnshire, the Pastors were thirty-six ; and the members as one, to twenty-three. But in Kent, the Pastors were twenty-four; and the members as one, to sixty-five. In Hampshire, the Pastors were ten; and the members as one, to one hundred and forty-lwo! And in Sussex, the Pastors were seven ; and the members as one, to two hun. dred and eleven!! These are stubborn facts, the force of which no reasoning can elude. They speak volumes, in establishing the efficiency and importance of Methodism. The recent stagnation of trade, and the consequent want of employment, was not local, but general. The labouring classes in the North, were in a state of greater destitution than their fellow countrymen in the South of England. It was emphatically remarked, by those who had the best opportunities of judging of the facts, that the incendiaries were not in a state of temporal destitution. But how striking was the difference between the Northern and Southern counties ! It was declared by the High Sheriff of Yorkshire, when applied to by the Secretary of State for the Home Depart. ment, respecting the augmentation of the military force in the County, that, so far was this from being necessary, he had such confidence in the intelligence and peaceable behaviour of the inhabitants, that the military might be withdrawn! And the result proved that his contidence was not misplaced. While the inhabitants in Sussex were in a state of feverish excitement and dreadful alarm, the inhabitants of Yorkshire, were reposing in domestic security. How is this difference in the state of things to be accounted for? The distress was greater in Yorkshire, than in Sussex. The population, much more dense.
The facilities for spreading “fire-brands, arrows, and death,” were much greater. The instigators to mischief, had greater inducements to visit the North, than the South. The experiment was tried. The
fiendish instigator to incendiarism, did visit the North, and lecture the populace; and if he did not instigate them to acts of rapine and mischief, it may fairly be argued, that this did not arise from any disinclination on his part, but because he discovered, that the inhabitants were too intelligent, to be prompted by a man whose soul must be as deeply imbued with the spirit of a fiend, as his principles are demonstratively subversive of the best interests of man. Foiled in his efforts to excite disaffection in the North, he returned to the South, and shortly afterwards delivered his lecture at Battle, in Sussex ; and there it was, that incendiarism commenced ; and one of the wretched dupes of this unprincipled demagogue, subsequently declared, when under sentence of death, that it was at that lecture he was instigated to injure the property of his neighbour, which led him to terminate his earthly career at the gallows. If such an attempt to instigate to acts of incendiarism, had been made in a company of labourers, in any part of Yorkshire, collected indiscriminately from the neighbouring hamlets, the heartless instigator would have been denounced as an enemy of his species ; his advice would have been indignantly rejected, and the neighbouring property would have been secure. The wizard used the wand, but the spell was broken. How is this to be accounted for ? Chiefly, from the superior intelligence of the people, and the more general diffusion of knowledge, and the prevalence of moral and religious feelings. And though I am not blind to the laudable and successful exertions of other denominations, yet, I dcem it no breach of candour, nor as betraying any undue partiality for that system of doctrine and discipline to which I am conscientiously attached, and which I regard as affording more varied and efficient facilities for the rapid diffusion of the truth, than any other religious system in practical operation, when I avow it, that the prevalence of Methodism in Yorkshire, and the want of Methodism in Sussex, are quite sufficient to account for the immense difference in the intelligence, morality, and religious principles of the operative classes in the two counties.
There are collateral causes co-operating with the mental degradation of the labourers of Sussex, tending to produce disaffection and misery among the poorer classes of society. The system of paying the wages of the honest labourer, partly from the Parochial rates, and thus subduing that spirit of manly independence which ought to be cherished by cvery genuine patriot, and actually reducing the labouring classes to a state of debasing pauperism, merits unmitigated and universal reprobation. This iniquitous and impolitic system of remuneration, so prevalent in the South, proves that the lordly masters of the labourers, are as much opposed to their temporal comfort, as they are to their religious instruction. Such a state of thraldom would not be tolerated in the North; and ought not to be perpetuated in the South. The labourers themselves, in the North, would not only spurn at such a system of remuneration with manly and merited indignation, but the masters, also, would generally abhor such a method of payment. They, as well as their work-people, have, in innumerable instances, participated in the beneficent and elevating spirit of Methodism. Happy would it have been for the masters as well as the labourers, if the same spirit had been more generally prevalent in the South.