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years ago. Till lately she had that pride, which poverty is often said to have; she would not proclaim and noise abroad her necessities; she addressed no appeals to the charities of her people; she made the most of her scanty means; and, as far as she was concerned, was ready to struggle on, as she had struggled; yea, rather than reveal her penury, she suffered the unjust revilings and rebukings of those her enemies, for whose revilings ignorance of her real condition is the only excuse that charity can find. But as wealth creates envy, and the church by calumnies and exaggerations was deemed rich, the account of her stewardship, of her rents, and lands, and tithes, and produce, was at last démanded from her, loath as she was to give. Then, when the exposure of her shame was looked for, she won her proudest triumph: she stood forth triumphing in her poverty; for she proved, openly and clearly proved, that she was in the depth of destitution, instead of being on the height of riches. To come to facts, for these are the most unanswerable arguments, it was proved in Parliament, that, if all the livings in England were equalised, the income of each incumbent, which is but a life income, would be about £280 a year. Out of this, by way of deduction, all the curates in England have to be paid ; out of this, an education the most expensive to be defrayed; out of this, their families to be supported in that rank wherein God has placed them, and which it is fit that they should hold; out of this, all charities to be drawn. To show too what these charities are, in the year 1832 the subscriptions and contributions to the two greatest Church Societies, that for the Propagation of the Gospel, and that for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, were, from the laity of England £7,130, from the clergy £60,750. Here is a picture which should shame and put to the blush the laity of the richest country in the world. Can we, with these undeniable facts in our possession, assert that they have done their Christian duty, have acted up either to the spirit or the letter of Christ's word, that the labourers in His vineyard have a worthy hire, and that they, as the Lord hath ordained, who preach the gospel do in reality live solely of the gospel ?
Though somewhat of an awakened spirit is abroad, this wants guiding and directing; for church principles have been almost lost and forgotten in the general and guilty religious stupor that has so long prevailed. Even what has been done for the church has been done ill and wrongly. Every thing in these rich days must be done with economy; and in matters of religion we are very anxious to know how much it costs. Thus, though churches begin to be built, they
are rarely endowed, and when endowed, only with such a sum as scarce merits the name. Then the clergy are told to seek repayment from pewrents. This, which is a new, a modern, and distressing feature in the church, is now resorted to in order to support the ministry; yet this is in so many words resorting to the voluntary system, against which we declaim so loudly, yet take such little pains to prevent. For when pew-rents form the stipend of the clergy, then it is clear their stipend rests upon their popularity, that wind which blows in the same year a thousand ways. As the prayers are in such neglect, the popularity of the preacher fills the pews and raises the demand; so that one year he may receive a fair return for his labour, and the next, if the tide sets some other way, have nothing or next to nothing.
Wretched it is indeed to be trusting to such a reed as this; it is unbecoming, it is disgraceful, it is unchristian, to seek popularity; and yet, when all depends upon it, shall we have no mercy if some in human weakness are tempted to go astray. Should we not rather take shame to ourselves that we put such a stumbling-block and temptation in a brother's way? It is with a sorrowful and aching spirit the clergy resort to and suffer this voluntary system ; it is because, though an evil, though they feel it a great and crying evil, it is somewhat a less than that desperate one of having neither churches nor ministers in a Christian land. Truly, if gain is to be derived from the church, if such a system as pew-rents, in olden times wholly unknown, is to be allowed, those who minister should reap the profit. But even this is not always the case ; and in this very church where we are assembled, vast as is its income, not one single farthing of these same pew-rents benefits its incumbent.
But, as we have been maintaining, this species of payment is altogether wrong. If the principles of our church, in this respect so truly catholic, were carried out; first, there would be churches, freely and unsparingly built, sufficient to accommodate all people; next, it would be the proper duty and office of the churchwardens to assign to every person, rich or poor, a seat without money and without price; for then from lay liberality there would be such an endowment to each place of worship, as would render such things as pew-rents utterly unnecessary, and utterly uncalled for.
What we want in short is, the revival of the old spirit of endowment; a spirit, which to the great credit of the papists did live with them, and to our great shame has almost died with us. They did provide with a righteous liberality hire for their labourers; they did remember. what the Lord had ordained; and, though superstition might mingle somewhat with their motives, if we judge them by their opportunities, and ourselves by ours, we must confess that with all their corruptions of doctrine, they set us a noble and glorious example. For, supposing superstition did move them in their gifts, shall we, dare we, say that superstition should be a stronger principle than truth itself? Should it be a more powerful impulse, a more practical and active influence ? Should we, with the whole truth in our possession, comply less with Christ's words than they who held much error with the truth.
If the clergy had consulted their worldly interest, if truth with poverty had not been more lovely than error with riches, they would not have been, as they were, the first and foremost in achieving the great work of the reformation. They have gained for you spiritual things by that holy work, but they have lost sadly in worldly things. Despoiled as they then were, though England has increased so wondrously in wealth,—though, if we are Christians, we must trace there her gigantic strides to God's good Providence,—the losses of the church have never been made up, while the calls upon her labourers are tenfold what they were. Though since the reformation national prosperity and affluence