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Suggestions of Committees of Convocation.


here, as every where, that mind accomplishes all. But the host of labourers is still needed, the army of devoted soldiers.

One of the most striking features of the times is the attention paid by the superior Clergy to the wants of our ever-growing population, and the determination to meet the demands of the age by suiting the length of the Church service to the altered circumstances of society, and by making aggression upon the out-door masses. The Report of the Committees of both Houses of Convocation, in July, 1854, upon matters affecting the interests of the Church of England, is a very remarkable document, and clearly indicates the purposes of the Episcopal Church, in its advancing zeal for the religious welfare of the country. One inquiry was, "Whether any, and, if so, what, modification of the Church's present agency is needful to enable her more thoroughly to discharge her spiritual functions?" The principal points of the answer are as follow. It is suggested, First. That some additional ministerial agency is necessary in order to preach the Gospel to every creature.

"Secondly. That some of the present needs of the Church can only be met by a more general and systematic co-operation of the laity in works of Christian charity; in visiting and instructing the sick, poor, and ignorant; in exhorting the careless; in teaching children and adults in schools; in collecting funds for the extension of the Church at home and abroad; and in all other labours of Christian love which can, consistently with the rules of the Church, be performed by laymen; that such works must be undertaken and conducted under the superintendence of the parochial Clergy, and should bear, in marked features, the character of being lay assistance rendered to the Ministers of Christ in their proper work; and should be conducted with the special aim of bringing souls under the direct action of the Ministry.

"Thirdly. That, besides this more general and systematic agency of the laity of the Church, as parochial district visitors and the like, some extension of the Ministry is greatly needed among us......

"Further, we are of opinion that various means might be adopted to render more effectual the exercise of the Church's missionary office towards our home population.

"It is deeply to be deplored that there are at present large numbers of the poorer population, especially in great towns, who are habitually absent from the public worship of God, and live with little or no sense of religion; and new and increased efforts are urgently required to give them a saving knowledge of the Gospel, and shelter them within the fold of the Church. For this work there is need of men specially fitted for, and devoted to, direct missionary operations at home."

The Report then proposes that, "with a view to economy, Christian fellowship, and united prayers and action," they should live together, minister in one church, and diverge into the neighbourhood in their labours. In this, as Mr. Miller

remarks, "there is an introduction of the confraternity system which suggests the apprehension of a monastic leaning."

Further, we think that good would result if those who were gained by these means as converts, were associated together in closer fellowship and action than has been common among us. Such converts, we believe, would thus be themselves built up in the true faith; would become an attraction and shelter to others; and would, under God's blessing, spread around them in their homes, and among their companions, a saving knowledge of Christ and His Gospel.

"We believe, further, that the due action of the Church's missionary office among the home population would be promoted, if a body of Clergy were organized for the special work of preaching and exhorting, under the Bishop's sanction, throughout the diocese...... We believe that such an institution would be of great service in parishes of unmanageable size, in those that might have been injured by past ministerial neglect, by the action of demoralizing influences, or by the inculcation of Roman or other error; and lastly, that it would tend, in a beneficial manner, to supply wants arising from such inequalities in ministerial gifts as must be found in so numerous a body as the English Clergy."

These practical suggestions deserve the serious consideration of all Churches:-lay agency to be more extensively employed; greater facilities to be afforded for access to Deacon's orders, by reducing the requirements for classical attainments; but candidates to possess "peculiar gifts for imparting religious instruction;" and bodies of Clergy organized for Missionary operations among our home population. All this is in the right direction, and is full of lessons and stimulus to other Churches. How remarkably do these proposals coincide with the views and practices of John Wesley, whose earnestness, knowledge of mankind, and practical sagacity, so long anticipated the views and movements of others! The highest honour and justice done to his memory is in the repetition of his counsels, and the adoption of his principles, and many of his plans, by those who are unconscious of the resemblances which others can discern in the evangelical effort to reach the wants of our home Heathen.

None are more thoroughly awake to the moral necessities of the times than the Evangelical Clergy; and by the plan of fixing a Minister in a destitute locality, and expecting him to form a Church, gathered out of the world by the Gospel, and thus to raise the principal part of his own support, they have greatly multiplied their Ministers, Congregations, and Churches, in the large towns especially.

The Pastoral Aid Society of the Church of England affords aid by grants both for assistant Curates and for lay help. The expenditure of the Society is nearly £38,000 per annum, and its liabilities about £42,500. By means of 486 grants, 341 Clergy

The Pastoral Aid Society, and the Congregational Union. 203

men, and 145 lay assistants, supplement the labours of 376 Incumbents. The services thus established or maintained are in 157 churches, and 166 licensed rooms; thus providing for, we presume, additional weekly services,-626 on the Lord's day, 302 week-day, 450 school-room or cottage lectures, and 414 Bible classes.

The great failing in the operation of this Society, as it appears to us, is, that the help afforded is rather to those who least, than to those who most, need it. A rich congregation, in a neighbourhood where there are but few, if any, of the lower or working classes, can contribute so much to the Society as to induce them to supply an additional Curate; and it is in our knowledge, that many of the most necessitous districts are thus left with an insufficient supply, while other parts of the town have a comparative surplusage of labourers, because the population is not of so necessitous a class. The strong ought rather to help the weak.

In 1848, the Congregational Union adopted a series of papers containing many valuable "Thoughts on the Need for increased Efforts to promote the Religious Welfare of the Working Classes in England, by the Independent Churches and their Pastors;" but the question of their own little success among the working classes was thought to hinge mainly upon their Church principles; upon the aversion of the natural man to what is tranquil and devout; upon the air and impress of English middle life upon Congregationalism, and upon its antagonistic position. It was thought there would be some hope that a religious impression might be made upon the working classes, if there were an extension of the franchise!*

The Ministers of that assembly, however, uttered sentiments worthy of themselves; for they were not afraid to declare their own errors, a rare virtue in public bodies, who generally leave all confession to individuals; but they nobly confessed the fault of spending their energies chiefly in testifying against evil, rather than in bearing testimony to the truth; and they saw that it tended "to make their preaching technical, narrow, and hard.” If such an evil exists, they have taken the most effectual means of repressing and curing it; and we wish them, and all other Ministers, full success. Certainly no such preaching will do for the masses, either within or outside our places of worship. The aggressive operations of the "Home Missions


"I confess my own belief, and judge its avowal here to be in place, that the political condition of the unenfranchised class is the parent cause of the great number of those more immediate causes that keep the working classes, more than others are kept, from the house of God,-ay! and keep them too from light and common air." -Congregational Year-Book, 1848, p. 94. But is it not marvellous that two Ministers, and a lay gentleman of mark, should prepare, and the Committee and Conference of the Union, should adopt and endorse such sentiments, or rest so little hope in the power of the Gospel to deal with every condition of society and of man?

the Congregationalists are among the agencies by which the Church attempts to overtake the spiritual wants of our immense population. They occupy 396 chapels and preaching-rooms, in 889 hamlets, villages, and towns. The congregations to whom the word of life is thus ministered, number about 35,000 hearers, with nearly 13,000 Sabbath-school scholars. 268 Christian men, of whom 47 are Missionaries, are engaged every week in declaring the truths of the Gospel. Eighty-four Bible Classes are attended by 1,332 scholars. They have circulated 1,451 copies of the Scriptures, and 120,000 religious tracts, during the last year. The complete statistics are highly interesting.

In noticing specifically these Church systems of lay agency, we do not forget the fact, that all Churches engage the most gifted and zealous of their people in religious efforts for the welfare of their respective neighbourhoods. The immense numbers, of both sexes, actively co-operating with their Ministers in Sunday and week-day schools, and in conducting cottage meetings of various kinds, are the glory, and strength, and salvation of our land. All honour to such Christian labourers!

It is well known that the Methodists have, from the beginning, been engaged in labours of this kind, and the whole stress of their busy machinery has been directed to the middle and lower classes. They have no distinct Home Missionary Fund, and no class of Ministers to be properly called Home Missionaries. Their whole system is founded on the principle of aggression, and all their Ministers are village preachers. Every town where they have a well-organized Society, is the centre of aggressive outgoings upon the neighbouring towns, villages, and hamlets; and in all large places they have a considerable number of stations for preaching, and other religious services. Each Minister, whatever his age, station among his brethren, or other engagements, takes his regular turn in visiting the neighbouring villages. Yet some stations partake more of the missionary character than others. The regular Ministers, or their lay assistants, thus visit thousands of places, in order to preach the word of life to multitudes who otherwise would never hear the Gospel. It is obvious, from the number of chapels and other places they occupy, that the Ministers alone would never be able to meet the religious wants of their people; but they are supplemented by a host of Christian men, who devote the Sabbath day to the toil of preaching in the villages and hamlets, with considerable acceptance and success; some of them having remarkable gifts, and a most laborious zeal. But they have not had the advantage of education and training for the services of the pulpit, and in these days do not always meet with the favour to which their pious zeal and devotedness justly entitle them. If

Methodistic Appliances.


we were disposed to find fault with the system in this matter, it would be because this important and necessary part of its machinery has not had more attention paid to it, both in the selection and the improvement of the agents. They would have had less uneasiness, had they been generally more acceptable to the mass of the educated Methodists; and that could only be by their being better fitted to occupy the principal positions. The better qualified feed the ranks of the regular Ministry; but by greater strictness in the admission of Local Preachers, and increasing pastoral attention to the improvement of their spiritual gifts, they would become a still more powerful body of aggressive labourers.

In our judgment, no Church has such facilities and system for the employment of laymen as Methodism. Yet no office was pre-ordained, no plan was struck out at the beginning. The Methodists merely aimed at doing good, and thus soon obtained a large insight into the moral and religious wants of society, and then adapted their machinery to their objects. Their first principle was to "do good to the bodies and souls of men." This was simple, but effective. It found a place for every man, while it laid obligation upon each disciple to work. The labourers classified themselves after they had begun their work; and the system rose out of the labour. The division of labour was natural and necessary; and thus office and departmental service arose. Nothing was instituted or retained for the sake of effect, or honour, or the completeness of system. The test of value was utility; and every department being actuated and guided by one principle, homogeneity pervaded the whole. The wisdom of the movement was in its simplicity and piety. This gave decision, unity, power; removing far away all that was extraneous and useless, lest it should distract and impede. The energy of the first Methodists is wonderful; but it is easily explained. If "he who does one thing is terrible, and must succeed," we see how it was with these men, whose hearts were strangers to all motives but the most commanding in the universe, the constraining love of Christ; and who only attempted one thing, to bring men to the knowledge of the truth, that they might be saved,-a business which they knew they could accomplish through divine help. That help was never withheld, because it was consistently sought; not by prayer alone, but in "labours more abundant."

The Methodist Church continues to be distinguished by its abundant labours, and especially by the employment of so large a proportion of lay agents. They have Tract-Distributors, penetrating into filthy lanes and alleys; where human beings are huddled together in crowded dwellings, one element of depravity acting upon another, and debasing the individual and the mass, until all are alike, monsters of iniquity. They have

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