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Social Progress (continued) page 2


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" It is a work of prudence, not less than of charity, to impart to the multitudes who are now scarcely acquainted even with the first principles of Christianity, a knowledge of its duties and consolations, its motives and restraints; and the most hopeful method of effecting this is to send more labourers into the Lord's harvest - to increase the number of churches and clergymen - to bring home to the very doors and hearths of the most ignorant and neglected of the population the ordinances, the solemnities, the decencies, and the charities of our Apostolic Church - to divide the moral wilderness of this vast city into manageable districts, each with its place of worship, its schools, and its local institutions. It is to this work that I earnestly entreat the prompt and liberal assistance of the Christian public. The examples of Glasgow and Manchester, where large sums have already been raised within the last year for a similar object, forbid me to entertain any doubt as to the success of this appeal. If this object be important anywhere, it is surely most important with reference to the metropolis; and I cannot forbear from indulging in a sanguine hope that an effort will be made for its attainment commensurate with the breadth and depth of the evil it is intended to cure. It is an object in which not merely the inhabitants of this great city, but the people of the empire at large are interested; for the influence of the metropolis on all the towns of the kingdom, and upon the springs of the government itself, is every day increasing. My desire and hope is, that - by means of donations much higher in amount than those which are usually given as annual subscriptions, or for temporary objects - a very large fund may forthwith be raised, for the purpose of building or purchasing, and partly endowing at least fifty new churches or chapels in the most populous parts of the metropolis and its suburbs." He suggested that an additional duty of twopence per ton on coals imported into London, while it would be scarcely felt by the consumer, would produce a sum sufficient to provide many additional churches. For endowments, he looked principally to the property of the prebendal stalls in St. Paul's Cathedral, the suppression of which, as they should become vacant, had already been recommended by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. In a second letter the bishop says: " An earnest appeal is respectfully but confidently made to all the inhabitants of London and its suburbs who possess the means of doing good - but especially to the owners of large property in the metropolis, to the great companies and commercial establishments, to the merchants, bankers, and opulent tradesmen - to lend prompt and effectual aid to the promotion of an object of such paramount importance; and to set an example to the great towns and populous districts of the empire, which cannot fail to exert a salutary influence on its religious and moral state."

By the Christian liberality of many benevolent persons, and especially of Mr. Cotton, the first promoter of the work in the east of London, whose name deserves to be mentioned with all honour, the undertaking prospered in the hands of its friends to at least as great an extent as they had hoped. Within a year from the beginning of the movement more than 45,000 had been contributed; and within eleven years the last of the ten proposed churches was consecrated, and Bethnal Green, instead of two churches, possessed twelve, each commemorating in its name one of the apostles of Christ, Other religious means followed in quick succession; there were in 1853 10 parish schools instead of 2, 22 clergymen in the place of 3, 11 parsonages where there had been but 1, 6,000 children in the schools instead of 950, and 10 Scripture readers, 19 pupil teachers, 129 district visitors, and 244 Sunday-school teachers, where these aids had before been quite unknown. When the committee made their " final appeal" in 1853, they could point to the facts that the annual number of baptisms had increased in ten years from 768 to 2,030; that provident funds and other kindred institutions, conducted by the clergy, were receiving from the poor more than 2,000 a-year; and that the character of the population had shown so great an advance, that while the poor- rates had been in 1839 15,000, they were reduced in 1853 to 1,400, although the population had increased from 70,000 to 90,000. Before the erection of the new churches, Bethnal Green was the resort of the worst characters, and the frequent scene of disgraceful riots. On the spot now occupied by St. Thomas's Church, with its schools and parsonage house, and by the model lodging- houses, which the munificence of Miss (now Baroness) Burdett Coutts erected for the labouring population, were situated the "Nova Scotia Gardens," in which resided the "burkers." May, Bishop, and Williams, who procured subjects for dissection by secret assassination, and were convicted of the murder of a friendless Italian boy in 1826; after which the place was known in the neighbourhood as "Burkers' Hole." When Mr. Norris, rector of the adjoining parish of South Hackney, sent his curate (afterwards Archdeacon Sinclair) to preach a charity sermon in the old church of Bethnal Green, soon after serious riots had occurred there, he suggested to him as appropriate texts - "The fear of the Lord is not in this place; they will slay me for my wife's sake," and, " Take heed lest ye be devoured one of another."

In order to understand fully the state of ecclesiastical affairs in England, it is necessary to trace the progress of religious opinion in Scotland. The Scottish Churches at that time possessed a number of ministers of great power and eminence, each exerting in his own denomination extensive influence. Dr. Andrew Thomson, a mighty spirit, had reached the meridian of his great popularity. Dr. Chalmers was rising fast to the commanding position he so long occupied. In the United Presbyterian Church, the ablest man was Dr. John Brown, of Edinburgh, wielding great influence as a theological professor, and as the pastor of a large congregation in that city. Dr. Hugh, a most accomplished divine, occupied a similar position in point of influence in Glasgow. In the same city, the Rev. Greville Ewing had founded the Independent Church, then new to Scotland. Though the strength of his principles was so great as to lead him to take this separatist course, he was a man of gentle spirit and true piety, and was universally esteemed and beloved by Christians of all denominations. Associated with him was a man not less gentle in spirit, but with intellectual power much more commanding, and of the highest cultivation as a theologian - Dr. Wardlaw, who during his life continued the foremost man among the Scotch Congregationalists. Dr. Russell, of Dundee, possessing an intellect of great force, with an energetic temperament, but not nearly so well cultivated, or naturally so refined as that of Dr. Wardlaw, exerted much influence in the important town where he was placed, and contributed his share to the great voluntary controversy which continued for a number of years to agitate the whole Scottish nation, till it issued in the disruption, and in the establishment of the Free Church.

The names of two laymen should here be mentioned - James and Robert Haldane - the chief founders of Scotch independency. They were the sons of Captain James Haldane, representative of the old Barons of Glenagles, in Perthshire; their mother being sister to Admiral Duncan, Viscount Camperdown. They had both entered the navy, and acquitted themselves so well, that one of them, when only twenty-five years old, had risen to the command of a ship. Thus early distinguished, and having the advantage of high patronage, they had a brilliant career before them. At the peace of 1783 Robert retired from the navy, and having married soon after, settled on his beautiful estate of Airthrie, in the neighbourhood of Stirling, to the improvement of which he devoted himself for several years. His mind seems to have been much excited by the French revolution, and sympathising deeply with the democratic movement, he was disappointed at its results, which had an effect on his mind similar to that produced on the mind of Burke, and led him to inquire anxiously, and think seriously upon the subject of religion. Arriving at a profound conviction of the Divine origin of Christianity, and believing that it was everything or nothing - that if true, it commands and warrants every sacrifice to promote it; and if false, it ought to be honestly rejected, he resolved to consecrate all his energies and all his property to its service. A report of the Baptist Missions which fell into his hands, excited his sympathy towards the heathen population of India. A vast missionary scheme was formed on their behalf. Several missionaries were appointed, under the direction of Dr. Carey, and this staff was supplemented by catechists and schoolmasters, and provided with a printing establishment. The entire expense was undertaken by Mr. Haldane, and in order to supply funds, his fine estate was sold. But the East India Company refused to sanction the scheme, and he relinquished it with the greatest reluctance. Still other schemes of usefulness were open to him, and in connection with his brother - who devoted himself to the ministry, and became an effective preacher - he applied himself with all his might to do the work of home missions in Scotland. At his expense many chapels were hired and many built; pious young men were educated for the ministry, and sent out as missionaries, some through Scotland, and some to Ireland. Robert also visited the Continent, where he remained for three years, defending and expounding the gospel in various cities. James Haldane devoted himself to the missionary work in his own country, itinerating from town to town, and contributing much by his preaching and conversation to rouse the churches from their slumbers and their formality. He traversed the whole of the country from Solway Frith to the Orkneys, preaching everywhere to large audiences, and encountering violent opposition from the clergy and the magistrates. In all the great measures of Christian philanthropy, in all the movements in favour of religious freedom, religious progress, and social reform, the two Haldanes took a prominent part, organising societies, educating and supporting missionaries, establishing Sunday-schools, and publishing books in defence of the Divine authority of the Scriptures. As a preacher, James Haldane met with the greatest success. He attracted large audiences wherever he went, and there were few towns or even villages of his native country to which his missionary labours did not extend. In churches or halls when accessible, or if not, in the market place.

or an adjoining field, and often in the face of obloquy and derision, as well as in despite of furious threats, he calmly and resolutely persevered in his work. In addition to his itinerant labours, he discharged gratuitously the duties of a pastor to a congregation in Edinburgh, over which he was ordained in 1799, and to which he ministered for fifty years, having rested from his labours in 1851, his brother Robert having died in 1842. They were both Baptists in principle, but they gave no undue prominence to their denominational peculiarities, their zeal being chiefly directed to the promotion of the great fundamental principles of religion. Their lives present one of the most interesting of Christian biographies, and have been written by Mr. Haldane, a London barrister.

Amongst the other Scotch laymen who contributed to the progress of religion at this time was Mr. Thomas Erskine, advocate, author of the essay on "Faith," and "Remarks on the Christian Evidence." The greatest layman in the Established Church of Scotland was the late James Douglas, of Cavers, author of the well-known work on " The Advancement of Society in Knowledge and Religion," works on the "Truths" of religion, the "Errors" of religion, and several others. The writings of such men, with the energetic labours of the Haldanes and their associates, contributed to awaken a general spirit of inquiry among the Scottish people, and the public opinion thus created was soon concentrated with intense force upon the Church and State question. Men began to ask why, with a well endowed Established clergy placed in all the parishes of the land, the people were so neglected that extraneous missionary efforts were required to reclaim them from their ungodliness; and why, when this was done, the Established clergy encountered the good work with such violent and bigoted opposition? The Rev. Dr. Marshall, of Kirkintilloch, a leading minister of the United Presbyterian Church, in a synodical sermon, denounced the union between Church and State. Up to that time the subject had been little thought of; but so great was the impression produced by this sermon, that converts to the voluntary principle increased rapidly in the United Presbyterian Church, till not one minister remained in that large body by whom it had not been embraced and avowed. This paved the way for the most intense controversy Scotland ever witnessed since the days of John Knox, known as the "voluntary controversy," in which all religious sects and all political parties engaged. Dr. Chalmers and the other leaders in the Established Kirk denied the soundness of the arguments of the voluntaries, and contended that the union of Church and State was in accordance with Scripture, and that if it were not so, they would no longer remain in connection with the Established Church. Shortly after an event occurred which put their sincerity to the test - namely, the celebrated " Auchterarder case," arising out of the intrusion of an unacceptable minister upon a reclaiming congregation.

The proceedings about this case bring into the foreground the most powerful leader of religious and social progress that Scotland produced since the Reformation. Dr. Thomas Chalmers, born in 1780, became a minister of the Established Church, and entered upon his duties in the Tron Parish, Glasgow, in the year 1815. "A blaze of unparalleled popularity at once broke around him as a preacher." He delivered a course of lectures on the connection between astronomy and Christianity, which were published in 1817; and never before or since was a similar reception given to any volume of sermons. Within one year it ran through nine editions. Soon after this he went to London, and occupied for the first time one or two of the pulpits of the metropolis, where the crowds that followed him were enormous, and the applause loud and universal. "All the world," wrote Wilberforce in his diary, "wild about Dr. Chalmers. Canning, Huskisson, Lords Elgin, Barrowby, &c., present. I was surprised to see how greatly Canning was affected; at times he was quite melted into tears." After continuing about four years minister of the Tron Church, he was removed to the new Church of St. John's, in which he endeavoured to reduce to practice the theory he had promulgated for the suppression of pauperism. In visiting his parish, which contained a population of about 11,000 souls, he discovered that nearly a third of them had relinquished connection with any Christian Church, and that their children were growing up in ignorance and vice. The appalling magnitude of the evil, and the certainty of a speedy growth, at once arrested and engrossed him. "To devise and execute the means of checking and subduing it became henceforth," says the Rev. Dr. Hanna, his biographer, "one of the ruling passions of his life. His grand panacea was to revivify, re-model, and extend the old parochial economy of Scotland. Taking his own parish as a specimen, and gauging by it the spiritual necessities of the city, he did not hesitate to publish it as his conviction that no less than twenty new churches and parishes should immediately be created in Glasgow. All, however, that he could persuade the town council to attempt was to erect a single additional one, to which a parish containing no less than 10,000 souls was attached. This church, built at his suggestion, was offered to him and accepted, in order that he might have free and unimpeded room for carrying out his different parochial plans." The field was sufficiently large. There were 2,000 families, consisting principally of weavers, labourers, factory workers, and other operatives, of which nearly one half belonged to no Christian Church, and the number of uneducated children was countless. He immediately organised an extensive machinery of visitors and teachers, with the view of accomplishing two objects: fully supplying both the spiritual and temporal wants of the population, conquering, at the same time, its ignorance, vice, and pauperism. He succeeded so far in one of those objects that in four years the cost of pauperism was reduced from 1,400 to 280 per annum. At the commencement of his labours in the new parish, St. John's, in 1820, Dr. Chalmers began a series of quarterly publications on the "Christian and Civic Economy of Large Towns," devoted to the theoretic illustration of the various schemes of Christian usefulness he was carrying on, thus presenting himself as at once their skilful deviser, their vigorous conductor, their eloquent expounder and advocate. But so much labour was too much for his strength; he got weary of this pastoral toil and drudgery, and longed for literary ease and retirement. During the eight years he had spent in Glasgow, seven vacant academic chairs were offered to him; he now accepted one in the university of St. Andrew's, where he remained until his services were transferred to the chair of theology in Edinburgh in 1828. A series of publications bearing upon religious and social progress issued from his pen. He had hitherto taken but little part in the business of the Established Church; but on the death of Dr. Andrew Thomson, who had been long the able leader of the evangelical party, and the dominant spirit in the General Assembly, Dr. Chalmers was called by the Assembly to the post of leader by being placed at the head of a committee appointed to promote the extension of the Church, In this position he was pre-eminently successful. Year after year swelled the fund that his efforts had created, till at last, in 1841, when he resigned his office as convener of the Church Extension Committee, he was able to announce that in seven years upwards of 300,000 had been contributed to this object, and 220 new churches had been built. This great movement on behalf of Church extension was finally checked by another, in which Dr. Chalmers was destined to play a still more conspicuous part. It was one of the most important ecclesiastical movements that occurred in the United Kingdom since the Reformation. The following brief record of the facts is from the pen of Dr. Hanna, son-in-law to Dr. Chalmers In 1834 the General Assembly, after declaring it to be a fundamental principle of the Church that 'no minister shall be intruded into any parish contrary to the will of the congregation,' had enacted that in every instance the dissent of the majority of the male heads of families being communicants, should be a bar to the settlement of a minister. This act, commonly called the 'veto law,' was based upon the old constitutional practice of the 'call,' in which the people invited the minister to undertake the pastoral office, on which invitation alone the spiritual act of ordination was grounded. The Church believed herself to possess the power of determining what kind and amount of popular concurrence was necessary before the pastoral tie was formed by ordination. She had often exercised that power to the effect of setting aside the nominee of the patron. When invited in such instances to interfere, the civil courts had refused, on the ground that the Church was acting within the limits of her acknowledged authority In other instances, the civil courts had often reviewed the decisions of the Church courts, but only with a view of regulating the title to the benefice. But now the power of the Church to pass such a law as that of the veto was challenged, and the civil courts claimed a right not only to regulate the destination of the benefice, but to control and overrule the decisions of the Church. In the parish of Auchterarder, containing a population of 3,000 souls, only two individuals signed the call, while 287 out of 300 dissented; but in an action raised at the instance of the presentee, the Court of Session decided that his rejection by the Church was illegal. This decision the House of Lords, on appeal to it, confirmed - Lords Brougham and Cottenham, in delivering judgment, stating it expressly to be their opinion that in settling a minister the Church had no legal right to look beyond his qualification as to 'life, literature, and morals.' In this decision, as involving a forfeiture of the benefice, the Church acquiesced, declaring at the same time her intention, for her pwn spiritual objects, to interpret for herself the statutes which established her, and announcing her unaltered purpose to protect her congregations from the intrusion of unacceptable ministers. It speedily appeared that she was not to be permitted to carry out these resolutions if the Court of Session could prevent it. The Presbytery of Dunkeld rejected a licentiate presented by the crown to the parish of Lethendy, on the ground of his having been vetoed by the people. The Crown acquiesced, and issued a new presentation. At the instance of its first presentee, the Court of Session interdicted the Presbytery from ordaining the second. The Church ordered the Presbytery to proceed with the ordination. It did so, and was summoned, in consequence, to the bar of the civil courts, solemnly rebuked, and informed that in the next instance of such disregard by the Church of the interdict of the civil courts, imprisonment would be the punishment. In the parish of Marnoch, with a population of 2,800 souls, only one individual signed the call; an overwhelming majority dissented; but, in defiance of the law of the Church, and in obedience to the Court of Session, the Presbytery of Strathbogie, by a majority of seven to three, resolved to proceed to the ordination. To prevent this ordination, the Church suspended the seven ministers who formed the majority. The Court of Session not only annulled that suspension, and prohibited the Church from intimating or executing it, but interdicted all ministers from preaching or administering any of the sacraments within any of the parishes of the seven suspended clergymen. The Church held such interference as a violation of her spiritual independence, and proceeded as if no such sentence of the civil court had been passed. Many of the most distinguished ministers, Dr. Chalmers and Dr. Gordon among the rest, preached in those parishes in the face of interdicts served on them personally. The seven suspended clergymen treated in the same way the supreme ecclesiastical authority, and on the 21st of January, 1841, in opposition to an express order of the General Assembly, consummated the ordination. By the following General Assembly these clergymen were deposed from the office of the ministry. The Court of Session immediately thereafter pronounced the deposition null and void. Other like instances occurred. The collisions between the two supreme courts became frequent and most unseemly; matters were running into inextricable confusion. The Church appealed to the government to interfere. At first the whigs were in power, but they declined to interfere. In 1841 Sir Robert Peel was at the head of a government strong enough to have applied a remedy, and the hopes of the Church were excited. Still, no measure was introduced. Under the guidance of Dr. Chalmers the Church pursued her course with steady, unfaltering steps; but she was n-ot prepared to prolong the controversy indefinitely. Denying the right of the Court of Session to act as it had done, the freely conceded to the legislature the right of determining on what terms she held her temporalities; and if, fairly appealed to, the legislature declared that she held them on condition of rendering such obedience to the civil courts as they now required, she felt that she had no alternative but either to renounce her own principles or relinquish the temporalities. At a solemn convocation held in November, 1842, a large number of ministers signed and published a declaration that if no measures of relief were granted they would resign their livings. Up to the last, however, it was not believed that any very extensive secession would take place. In January, 1843, the government not only refused to grant the protection the Church required, but put a final and peremptory negative on her claims of spiritual independence; and, in March, the House of Commons did the same by a large majority; the Scotch members, however, voting in the proportion of more than two to one in her favour. The controversy was now closed, and it remained only for those clergymen, who felt that they could not with a good conscience submit to the civil restraint imposed upon the Church, to adopt the only expedient now left to them, and retire from the Establishment. On the 18th of May, 1843, 470 clergymen withdrew from the General Assembly, and constituted themselves into the Free Church of Scotland, electing Dr. Chalmers as their first moderator."

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