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Social Progress (continued)


Social Progress (continued) - Leaders of Religious Progress - No Modern Church History - Bishop Bathurst - Dr. Blomfield appointed to Chester - Lady Spencer - State of that Diocese - Bishop Blomfield in Parliament - Dr. Blomfield's translation to London - King's College founded - The Church and the Dissenters - Ecclesiastical Reform- Church Extension - St. Paul's Cathedral - Religious Destitution in the East of London - Mr. Cotton - Reformation in Bethnal Green - Progress of Religious Opinion in Scotland; its Leaders: Dr. Andrew Thomson, Dr. John Brown, Dr. Hugh, Rev. Greville Ewing, Dr. Wardlaw, Dr. Russell, the two Haldanes; Thomas Erskine; Douglas of Cavers- Church and State - The Voluntary Controversy - Dr. Marshall-Dr. Chalmers - Church Extension in Scotland - Church Patronage - Non- Intrusion - The Veto Law - The Auchterarder Case - The Disruption and Establishment of the Free Church - Lectures in London on Church Establishments, by Dr. Chalmers, Dr. Wardlaw, and Dr. M'Neile - Improvement of the Bench of Bishops - The two Sumners - The Evangelical Movement - Counter Movement in Oxford - "The Tracts for the Times " - Drs. Pusey and Newman - The Independents: Dr. Fletcher; Dr. Bennett; Dr. Pye Smith; Rev. John Burnet; Rev. Thomas Binney; Dr. Andrew Reed; Dr. Leifchild; Dr. Morrison; Dr. Campbell; John Angell James; Dr. Raffles; Jay of Bath; Dr. M'All of Manchester; Dr. Vaughan; Dr. Harris; Isaac Taylor; John Williams; Moffat; Medhurst; Livingstone - The Baptists: Robert Hall; John Foster, the Essayist; Drs. Marshman and Carey - The Wesleyan Methodists: Dr. Bunting; Richard Watson; Thomas Jackson; Dr. Warren- Religious Leaders in Ireland - Bishop Doyle - The Roman Catholic Controversy - Missionary Societies - English Agencies - Evangelical Revival in the Church: Rev. B. W. Mathias; Rev. Peter Rowe; Rev. Robert Daly; Dr. Singer; Dr. Carlile; Dr. Stuart; Rev. William Cooper; Rev. W. Ilaweis Cooper; Dr. Urwick; Archbishop Whately.
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It is a remarkable fact that there is no such thing extant as a modern Church history. If any one wishes to become acquainted with the progress of religion during the last half-century in the Established Churches of the United Kingdom, or in the various Dissenting bodies, and desires to trace the important movements that have arisen in that time, he will look in vain in any single work, and will have to hunt for the information he requires through innumerable memoirs and magazines. The following sketches of the leaders of religious progress during the century down to the reign of Queen Victoria are necessarily very brief, as it would take volumes to do justice to characters and events, the records of which must be confined to a few pages. But religion has had so much to do with social progress, and even with the action of political parties, and has so materially affected legislation during the period in question, that a history of England would be incomplete that did not give to the leading ecclesiastical men of the day at least a cursory notice.

In 1823-4 expectant Churchmen were accustomed to amuse themselves by circulating reports that Bishop. Bathurst, of Norwich, was dead; but although he was then in his eightieth year, he lived on till 1837, during which period of decrepitude and second childhood, his diocese was reduced to a deplorable condition. Most of the other dioceses were not much better. The bishops slumbered on the bench, the country parsons sported, and their flocks indulged themselves according to their inclinations without much remonstrance from their pastors. Among the Church divines of that day, one of the most conspicuous and respected was Dr. Blomfield, then rector of St. Botolph, and his aristocratic friends were very anxious to see him upon the bench. The opportunity was afforded by the death of the Bishop of Bath and Wells, when Bishop Law was translated from Chester, and Dr. Blomfield received a letter from Lord, Liverpool offering him the latter see, which was a very poor one, the income being about 1,400 a year; the episcopal residence was mean, and Chester was then distant a long two days' journey from London. These were objections in the mind of Dr. Blomfield, but they were overcome by the reasoning of his friend Lady Spencer. " Don't be so indiscreet," she wrote, " as to refuse it, because it is a sadly poor one: remember, it is the step which you must tread on to a richer one. All the old twaddles have dropped - young ones don't depart so readily - and I am myself so old that I am impatient to see you seated on that bench, where you will be so admirably placed, and so usefully disposed of. If the metropolitan is translated, which his looks portend, the Bishop of London replaces him; and who so likely as yourself - with all your London knowledge and experience - to be the bishop of this diocese, if you are on the bench? But then you must be, or my plan can't take place. Seriously, Lord Spencer and I are all on the tiptoe to hear of your acceptance; for though it may be present ruin, yet it will be soon future affluence, and why should you not keep your St. Botolph? " This last hint decided him. He kept the living of Bishopsgate in commendam, and he was consecrated Bishop of Chester in June, 1824. His elevation caused general acclamation, and excited among the friends of the Church much hope of a useful career, which was not disappointed; for the amazing progress made by the Church during the subsequent thirty years was constantly identified with the name and exertions of Bishop Blomfield.

Bishop Blomfield set to work in his new sphere with characteristic energy to give efficiency to the Church. " If," says his son, " the clergy could be persuaded or compelled to reside on their livings, or, if non-resident, with a tolerable reason, to provide respectable substitutes, and keep their glebe-houses in habitable repair; if the crying wants of large towns could be supplied by additional churches and clergymen; if the tone of clerical society could be raised a few degrees; if a stimulus could be given through the Church societies, or by other means, to the education of the poor, and the diffusion of religious knowledge; if this could be done, he would not, indeed, be contented, but would feel that something substantial had been effected. But even in accomplishing this much, he had many difficulties to contend with."* He found discipline sadly relaxed among his clergy, and a deplorable want of spirit in matters connected with religion. He found many of them employed in secular occupations of an engrossing kind, one of them being a postmaster in a large town, another engaged in an extensive agency, and a third mayor of Macclesfield. He found that the clergy regarded fox-hunting as " almost a religion in Cheshire," and when he ordained ministers, he was obliged to extort a promise from them not to engage in that amusement. He met great difficulty in compelling the residence of his clergy; and when some one remarked that his portrait, painted soon after he became a bishop, represented him with a decided frown, he replied, " Yes, that portrait ought to have been dedicated, without permission, to the non-resident clergy of the diocese of Chester." The manners of the time may be judged from the following sketches: - One clergyman having been reproved for irregularities of which his parishioners had complained, answered, "Your lordship, as a classical scholar, knows that lying goes by districts: the Cretans were liars, the Cappadocians were liars; and I can assure you that the inhabitants of ----- are liars too." Intoxication was the most

frequent charge against the clergy. One was so drunk while waiting for a funeral, that he fell into the grave; another was conveyed away from a visitation dinner in a helpless state by the bishop's own servants; and a third replied to a rebuke, saying, " But, my lord, I never was drunk on duty." The bishop set about the work of reform with great earnestness; his efforts were attended with marvellous success, and, as might be expected, his popularity became very great. All sorts of people seemed to contend who should speak most highly of him. The great secret of his popularity was manliness and sincerity in the discharge of his duties; and the only fault his friends could find with him was that he would soon sacrifice his constitution " in working so outrageously with mind and body." As a preacher he was exceedingly popular. He addressed 6,000 persons in Manchester on one occasion, when 1,000 went away unable to obtain admittance.

Bishop Blomfield bore a distinguished part in defending the Church in parliament. " As a public speaker," wrote Bishop Coplestone, "he is the best I ever heard, for lie is ready, fluent, correct, always addressing himself to the point, never seeking admiration by sarcasm, and ornament, and oratorical flourishes. He always brings out original thoughts bearing well upon the subject; no report can do him justice." His first speech was made in 1825, in reply to Lord Holland's attack upon the Church; and he was so successful, that that nobleman crossed the house, and shook hands with him, predicting his future success as a debater. He opposed Catholic Emancipation with great earnestness; but having avowed in the House of Lords a change of opinion on the subject, in consequence of better acquaintance with the doctrines of the Roman Catholic church, he was exposed to the attacks of the liberal press. He was charged with deserting the principles of his early patrons, Lords Spencer and Bristol; and it was said that he who had been till lately the model parish priest and the distinguished scholar, now became the servile courtier, the interested hunter after preferment, and the intolerant bigot, "doing his uttermost to serve both the court, the ministers, and the heir presumptive with a forwardness of obsequiousness that distinguishes him even on the bench of bishops." The Times denounced him " as an intolerant and meddling priest, seeking to establish a fresh and strong position in the country, by founding a new and inexorable sect, of which he is himself the chief." The bishop, however, showed his liberality by voting for the bill to relieve Dissenters from the compulsory use of the Church service in their marriages, and for the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts.

The death of Archbishop Manners Sutton in July, 1828, gave the desired opportunity of translating Bishop Blomfield from Chester to London. Bishop Howley having been promoted to the metropolitan see, the duke of Wellington conferred London upon the Bishop of Chester. When this fact was publicly announced, an ardent Episcopalian exclaimed to a friend in the street, a Glorious times for the Church! Meeting-houses will go down fifty per cent." One of his first efforts in the new sphere of duty to which he was called was for the establishment of King's College, in order to counteract the influence of the London University, which had been founded in 1827. It was found that the great metropolis was deficient in institutions for the education of the middle and upper classes of society. But Dr. Blomfield considered that the want could not be safely supplied unless religion were an essential part of the education, and unless it were imparted on Church principles. "I hold it," he said, "to be morally impossible to give religious instruction which shall not have a tendency either to promote or to weaken the interests of the Church." The question of Church Reform was very strongly agitated about this time. A society called the Ecclesiastical Knowledge Society had been established for the purpose of exposing the abuses of the Church; and the Rev. John Clayton, Independent minister of the Poultry Chapel, London, wrote to Bishop Blomfield, repudiating " the violent and pugnacious procedures which a few vehement partisans now adopted and pursued," and hoped that he and "a large mass of both ministers and their people, in both London and the country, would not be confounded with those whose tempers were their dishonour." The bishop replied that he would not confound the two classes, but he added - " If the more respectable portion of the Dissenters disapprove of the calumnies and invectives against the Established Church which are issued by the Ecclesiastical Knowledge Society, and Dr. Bennett or Mr. Binney, &c., why do they not disavow them? The public in general suppose these gentlemen to be the acknowledged if not the official organs of the general body of the Dissenters. I am very much afraid that a war is beginning between the Dissenters and the Church, into which the latter will have been driven by measures of which it is impossible that the Christian public should approve; and although I have not the least doubt but that the issue of the conflict would be honourable and advantageous to the Church, I grieve to think that the great gulf between us will be widened by the efforts of the combatants, and that the cause of Christian charity will suffer." The influence the Bishop of London exerted upon the Churchmen of his time may be inferred from two facts. A bishop once observed at the public meeting of a religious society, "When I look round upon this vast city, with its ever increasing population, and consider the almost superhuman efforts which must be required to meet its spiritual needs, my first thought is that I am thankful that I am not Bishop of London. My second," turning to Bishop Blomfield, "is, that I am thankful that you are." The Rev. Sydney Smith, in a letter to Archdeacon Singleton, said: - " When the Church of England is mentioned, it will only mean Charles James of London, who will enjoy a greater power than has ever been possessed by any Churchman since the days of Laud, and will become the Church of England here upon earth."

The first step taken by the government in the way of Church Reform was the appointment of a commission to collect statistics as to the existing revenues and patronage of the Establishment. Of this commission, which was renewed in 1833, and again in 1834, Bishop Blomfield was a member. The result was to prove an enormously unequal distribution of Church property; and so willing was he to make sacrifices in order to mitigate the evil, that he stated to Lord Grey his willingness to give up his sinecure patronage of St. Paul's - amounting altogether to more than 10,000 per annum - for the purpose of endowing new churches in the populous and destitute parts of London. But the great work of Bishop Blomfield was Church extension. He thus describes the state of things which he found in the metropolis: - "I am continually brought in contact, in the discharge of my official duties, with vast masses of my fellow-creatures living without God in the world. I traverse the streets of this crowded city with deep and solemn thoughts of the spiritual condition of its inhabitants. I pass the magnificent church which crowns the metropolis, and is consecrated to the noblest of objects - the glory of God - and I ask myself in what degree it answers that object. I see there a dean and three residential, with incomes amounting in the aggregate to 10,000 or 12,000 a year. I see, too, connected with the cathedral, twenty-nine clergymen whose offices are all but sinecures, with an annual income of about 12,000 at the present moment, and likely to be very much larger after the lapse of a few years. I proceed a mile or two to the east and northeast, and I find myself in the midst of an immense population, in the most wretched state of destitution and neglect - artisans, mechanics, labourers, beggars, thieves - to the number of at least 300,000. I find there are, upon an average, about one church and one clergyman for every 8,000 or 10,000 souls; in some districts a much smaller amount of spiritual provision: in one parish, for instance, only one church and clergyman for 40,000 people. I naturally look back to the vast endowments of St. Paul's, a part of them drawn from these very districts, and consider whether some portion of them may not be applied to remedy or alleviate these enormous evils. No, I am told; you may not touch St. Paul's. It is an ancient corporation, which must be maintained in its integrity. Not a stall can be spared. The duties performed there are too important to admit of any diminution of those who perform them. One sermon is preached every Sunday by a residentiary, and another by a clergyman appointed by the bishop, and paid by the corporation of London; while the non-residentiaries either preach an occasional sermon on saints' days, or pay a minor canon for preaching it. And yet, if the principle of perfect integrity as to numbers and property is to be maintained, as the opponents of this measure assert, not a farthing must be taken from those splendid endowments, for which so little duty is performed, to furnish spiritual food to some of the thousands of miserable, destitute souls, who are perishing of famine in the neighbourhood of this abundance.

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Pictures for Social Progress (continued)

Rev. Dr. Chalmers
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Faraday
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