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Social Progress (continued) page 3


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The interest of this great contest in Scotland was greatly influenced by the attacks made upon the English and Irish establishments, and the contest was for a time transferred from Scotland to London. Here a Church Defence Association had been established, and its conductors invited Dr. Chalmers to London to deliver his celebrated lectures on Church establishments, which were attended by large numbers of the most influential people of the time - peers, members of parliament, bishops, clergymen, men of letters, and lawyers. Dr. Wardlaw, of Glasgow, the greatest of the champions of voluntaryism, was invited to London by the English Dissenters and their Church sympathisers to answer Dr. Chalmers, which he did; both advocates exciting, as a matter of course, the intense admiration of their respective parties. About the same time the Church of England was enabled to rejoice in a champion of her own, Dr. Hugh M'Neile, of Liverpool, a native of the north of Ireland, who, though not equal to Dr. Chalmers in his wonderful affluence of ideas and of language, was superior in the graces of manner and delivery. Dr. M'Neile was also invited to London to deliver a course of lectures on Church establishments. Other able and eloquent men adorned the sacred order of the clergy about the same time, and it was then that a marked improvement began in the bench of bishops. The Bishop of London was ably and zealously seconded in the work of Church extension and religious reform by the two brothers Sumner, one of whom became Bishop of Chester in 1828, where he successfully carried on the work so well begun by Bishop Blomfield, importing a number of zealous Irish clergymen, ardent disciples of the evangelical school, and fluent in their pulpit ministrations. Bishop Sumner was elevated to the see of Canterbury on the death of Archbishop Howley in 1848, and there, in the highest position of the Church, he continued to exert the same influence in favour of pure and undefiled religion, exercising a gentle rule over his clergy, and acting always in the spirit of moderation. His brother became bishop of Llandaff in 1826, and the following year he was translated to Winchester, where he succeeded Bishop Tomline, in which dignity he pursued his work of good, with much benefit to the Church. By the addition of such bishops the episcopal bench was wonderfully improved; and at last, through subsequent judicious appointments, it has attained to a degree of intelligence, earnestness, and efficiency not known for many generations, if ever known since the Reformation.

The evangelical movement in the Church gave rise to a counter movement, which had its origin in Oxford University, and whose supporters were known as the " Tractarian party," from a series of publications, called " Tracts for the Times," written by Oxford divines, advocating patristic theology, and ecclesiastical usages more akin to Romanism than to Protestantism; contending for apostolical succession as necessary to the validity of the sacraments, for baptismal regeneration, and the real presence in the eucharist; condemning the Reformation as a great evil, and claiming for the " Anglican Church " the right to be regarded as the only •true orthodox church in these realms. The new system thus developed was also called " Puseyism," from Dr. Pusey, one of the principal writers of the " Tracts for the Times." But the greatest man amongst them was Dr. Newman, whose logical mind could find no solid ground between Protestantism and Romanism - between the authority of the Bible and the authority of the Church; and therefore having ceased to make the Scriptures his sole guide, he passed over to the Church of Rome.

The Independent denomination was adorned during this period by a number of men of great ability as divines and preachers. Dr. Fletcher enjoyed great popularity for many years as minister of Finsbury Chapel, which was a sort of centre of missionary influence. Dr. Bennett occupied a conspicuous position for half a century in the city, his mind continuing fresh and active in a venerable old age. He had been one of the most active spirits in the anti-State-Church movement. Dr. Pye Smith, of Hackney, was one of the most learned divines of the day, universally respected for his writings and his character, notwithstanding the firmness with which he maintained his principles. The Rev. John Burnet, of Camberwell, a strong Dissenter, but a man of genial spirit, and ever ready to advocate a good cause, was one of the ablest platform speakers that ever appeared in Exeter Hall. He Clever took notes, and seemed scarcely to heed what was going on around him; but so wonderful was his memory, that nothing escaped him - no argument, no point, no expression, in the course of a long debate. Always calm and self-possessed, his speaking was pre-eminently logical, while he had a brilliant fancy, an easy flow of the best and most appropriate language, and an unfailing fund of wit and humour, which for many years rendered him one of the most popular speakers in London. The Rev. Thomas Binney, of the Weigh House Chapel, was not long in the metropolis before he became a power among the Dissenters; but he excelled in the pulpit, not on the platform. Colloquial, and not very graceful in his manner, his close reasoning, massive thoughts, and earnestness of spirit riveted the attention of his crowded congregation. Dr. Bennett, Mr. Burnet, and Mr. Binney were particularly distinguished for the part they took in the controversy against Church establishments; and zealous Church people often spoke of them bitterly as the " three Bees." Dr. Andrew Reed was one of the most successful and the most highly respected pastors in London for a lengthened period, maintaining his position unimpaired to the last. The same may be said of Dr. Leifchild. Both were models of Christian pastors, and universally respected as Christian gentlemen, centres of influence, and well sustaining the respectability of the- denomination of which they were among the chief ornaments. Dr. Morrison, of Chelsea, deserves to be mentioned, not only as an influential pastor, but as the editor for a great many years of the " Evangelical Magazine," in which there was always a friendly word for every good cause, without respect to denominational distinctions.

It is a singular fact that the leading Dissenting ministers in the metropolis at this time were Scotchmen; Dr. Fletcher, Mr. Burnet, Dr. Morrison, and Dr. Campbell belonged to that country. As an energetic, courageous man of progress, and as a man of great capacity for work, and for real achievements in the cause of truth and righteousness, Dr. Campbell undoubtedly deserves to be ranked high among his brethren. His vigorous mind was early disciplined, first at tlie University of St. Andrews, and then at that of Glasgow, where, also, he attended the Divinity Hall of the Independents, conducted by Mr. Ewing and Dr. Wardlaw. Having been for some time minister at Kilmarnock, in Ayrshire, he came to London in 1828, and assumed the pastorate of Whitfield's celebrated Tabernacle, where he laboured successfully for twenty years. He published an essay on "Jethro; or, Lay Agency," which obtained the first prize of one hundred guineas; he powerfully assailed the Bible-printing monopoly, in conjunction with Dr. Thomson, in 1839, and thus contributed materially to the great reduction in the price of Bibles that has since taken place. He is the author of several useful works, which have had a large circulation. He is also the author of a number of minor publications; but it is chiefly through the magazines and newspapers with which he has been connected, that he has exerted the most extensive influence on the religious community.

In noticing the leaders of religious progress among the Independents, we should no. omit mention of John Angell James, of Birmingham, whose lengthened career was one of extraordinary usefulness, and whose publications, promotive of practical religion, have made him extensively known in other denominations; nor Dr. Raffles, of Liverpool, who maintained a position of great eminence and usefulness for half a century - each of them exerting more actual influence on their brethren in the ministry than an archbishop. The Rev. William Jay, of Bath, was also one of the brightest ornaments of Independency during this period. The late Dr. M'All, of Manchester, removed in the midst of his career, was perhaps the most eloquent preacher and the brightest spirit in the Independent denomination. Dr. Vaughan, of Manchester, president of the Independent College, and founder of "The British Quarterly Review," author of " The Age of Great Cities," and of "Revolutions in English History," has deserved well of the whole Christian community. Dr. Harris, the author of " Mammon," "The Great Teacher," and other works, though belonging to Lady Huntingdon's Connexion, has been generally classed with the Independents. Isaac Taylor, author of " The Natural History of Enthusiasm," and many other valuable works, was the son of an Independent minister. Among distinguished missionaries the Independents had John Williams, Moffat, Medhurst, Morrison, and Livingstone. This body has done a great deal during the last thirty years for the academic education of their ministers. They have built a very fine college at Manchester; they have amalgamated the three colleges in London, namely, Homerton, Highbury, and Coward, as " New College," St. John's Wood. This is regarded as a great event in Congregational history. So, too, was the founding of Spring Hill College at Birmingham.

The Baptist denomination is not so large as the Congregational, and it could not then point to so many men of eminence in the ranks of its ministry, or as contributors to its literature; but it could boast of having the greatest preacher and the greatest essayist of the age, Robert Hall and John Foster. Hall had no rival in the pulpit until Chalmers rose to eminence, and even with him he need not fear comparison. During the fifteen years that he spent at Cambridge, fellows of college were among his constant hearers, captivated with his eloquence. He removed to Leicester in 1806, where he remained nearly twenty years, and where he was eminently useful, and universally beloved. His chapel was twice enlarged to accommodate the increasing crowds who thronged to hear him. He was naturally very much in request to preach missionary and charity sermons in different parts of the kingdom, and in this way his influence was felt throughout the community of all denominations; for he never preached without making the profoundest impression on all who heard him. His " Reflections on the War," his " Sentiments proper for the present Crisis," his " Modern Infidelity," and his " Sermon on the Death of the Princess Charlotte," are well known as amongst the most striking efforts of his public eloquence; but the production of his pen which most tended to promote religious progress, was his admirably reasoned treatise on " Terms of Communion," which exerted a wide influence in liberalising the opinions and practice of his own communion, and could not be read without benefit by the members of any denomination. On the death of Dr. Ryland in 1825, he was invited to Bristol, and parted with his people after a severe struggle, and a scene in which both pastor and people wept aloud. He was then in his sixty-second year, and he survived only six years more, when he fell a victim to a disease which had tortured him all his life, so that it was said by the doctor who made a post mortem examination, " that probably no man ever went through more physical suffering than Mr. Hall." He was a fine example of the triumph of the higher powers of mind, exalted by religion, over the infirmities of the body. " The mind of Robert Hall," says Mr. Henry Rogers, " was of that select order which was equally distinguished by power and symmetry; where each single faculty is of imposing dimensions, yet none out of pro-, portion to the rest. His intellect was eminently acute and comprehensive; his imagination prompt, vivid, and affluent; his reasoning severe logic, clothed in the most tasteful rhetoric." It has been well said of his style by a critic in the " Quarterly Review," " that it is constructed after no model; it is more massive than Addison's, more easy and unconstrained than Johnson's, more sober than Burke's." " His singular gift of extemporaneous speech puts the cope- stone on all his other excellencies as an orator. The general structure of his mind, his robust reasoning faculties, his vigorous though ever ministering imagination, his keen sensibility, and his vehement passions, pointed in the same direction, and fitted him to be a great public speaker."

John Foster is known chiefly by his essays, which are among the most masterly productions of the kind in our language. His essay on " Popular Ignorance " must have powerfully stimulated the minds of those who were engaged in the work of education.

The Baptists had also great men among their missionaries, the principal of whom were Drs. Marshman and Carey. They have not neglected the subject of academic education, as appears by the establishment of their college in Regent's Park.

The history of Wesleyan Methodism was much identified during the last half-century with the career of Dr. Bunting, long the foremost man in the body, venerated by the people generally, and - from his talents, experience, and administrative abilities - exerting a commanding influence in the deliberations of the Conference, and in the conduct of Wesleyan affairs generally. His was a position in which great power and prestige are the necessary growth of circumstances - the fruit of incessant application of great ability to the public good. Dr. Bunting was a man of action; but the Wesleyans had also among them a great writer, Richard Watson - a man of masculine mind, well regulated and well cultivated; an accomplished divine, who could expound the truths of religion in a vigorous and polished style. Thomas Jackson was also a distinguished ornament to Wesleyanism, a man of great mental power and moral weight. Dr. Adam Clarke, the well-known commentator, need not be mentioned here, as, though he did not die till 1832, he did little during the period embraced in this volume. The vast increase of Wesleyan places of worship, and of Wesleyan ministers, notwithstanding large secessions, shows how active and effective must have been the ministrations of that body to make such progress. The two chief events which affected the body during the period were - the secession in 1834, when Dr. Warren and his followers, called " Warrenites," separated from the Conference, and the last secession, when 100,000 broke off, forming a new community. All the seceding bodies - the Kilhamites, or New Connexion Methodists; the Bible Christians, or Bryanites; the Wesleyan Methodist Association, formed in 1835; and last, the Wesleyan Methodist Reformers - have separated on the alleged ground of the tyrannical powers exercised by the Conference, and the exclusion of the laity from their due share in the management of the body.

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