« PoprzedniaDalej »
Bill through both Houses of Parliament. The other course would be for Government boldly to communicate with the peers who ordinarily support it. Let them offer to include in a Bill any equitable proposals for providing the Nonconformists with burying-grounds, and otherwise meeting what their fairminded members may regard as a grievance. To lessen the local burden of obtaining such burying-grounds possibly some help might be given out of the Consolidated Fund. But on the question of the ministration of Nonconformists in churchyards they must be unyielding. If the Conservative peers would agree to support such a measure, let the Government boldly introduce their Bill of last year, which in many respects is excellent, with such modifications or additions as may be agreed upon. If the Conservative peers will not support such a measure, then there is no help for it but to wait for a more convenient season. Looking forward, we are not at all sure that the Government could provide better for the next general election than by making such a fair and liberal offer to adjust difficulties which have arisen. Of course, if the Government should not introduce a Bill to settle this question, it will speedily hear of a resolution on the subject from the Opposition in both Houses of Parliament. After what occurred during the last session, there is certain to be a feeling that the Ministry is assailable on this point, and that an attack might precipitate its dissolution. We should have no fears on this head. Conservative peers who voted with Lord Harrowby would not vote against Government on what was intended to be treated as a vote of want of confidence; whilst in the Lower House, even Scotch and Irish Conservative members who might not be able to resist the tendencies of their constituents if there was practical legislation before the House, would not venture to give a vote which all would feel to be injurious to their party. We should therefore have no fear of the result of hostile attacks; nay, we should be inclined to welcome them as likely to strengthen our position. If we look beyond the walls of Parliament to the constituencies, we are equally persuaded that Government would have nothing to fear, if it will only have the courage to follow what ought to be its Conservative instincts. The noisy and extreme men are those who make their voices heard. As yet but few others have spoken. The more quiet members of the various religious bodies do not protest against these extreme utterances when they do not agree with them, but they refuse to support them at the polls; and from what we hear on all sides, we are satisfied that there is a considerable proportion of the Nonconformist laity who do not sympathise with their
ministers, or with those who affect to be the political leaders of their bodies in their treatment of this matter. Once let it be realised that the question is one of property, and not of religious privilege, and we are satisfied that the judgment of the country will be on the Conservative, and not on the revolutionary, side. It has unfortunately happened up to the present time that this view of the subject has not been pressed upon people's minds. Sentimental appeals have been made to them; piteous pictures have been set before them of the hardships suffered by affectionate Nonconformists, from the intolerance and bigotry of the High Church clergy; once make them see that this is no question of High Church or Low Church, but of the preservation of much that is valued in our Established Church, and we should have no fear of the result. Misrepresentations seldom prevail after they have been thoroughly exposed, and as yet the Liberationist misrepresentations about our churchyards have not been exposed as they ought to be.
But it may be said, 'Your view is a sanguine one; depend upon it that nothing will content the country but the concession of all that the Liberation Society demands.' We doubt the fact, but, be that as it may, we should still say the same. A great party ought to remember that it has a to-morrow as well as a to-day. It ought always to be ready to sacrifice any present passing interest, rather than yield a hair's breadth of the principles to sustain which it exists. For what does the Conservative party exist, if it is not to maintain the present constitutional rights and position of the Church and of the State, and to uphold the just rights of property? We believe that to yield the principle involved in the contest for our churchyards would be to concede the whole principle for which the party professes to contend. It would surrender the principle that the Established Church has rights which must be protected; and it would give up the principle upon which the possession of all property at present rests. It may be impossible to defend these rights, and the existing foundations of property. If so, we must yield to force, and we should not despair under a changed order of things of making the power of the Church felt as much in the future as it has been in the past. But we entertain a real love for our existing constitution in Church and State, under which England has risen to be, we think, the first nation upon earth, and therefore to the uttermost of our ability we will resist, and call upon others to resist, what in our opinion would be a long stride towards the overthrow of what is, and the establishment in its stead of what may now be seen in the great Western Republic.
Did the Success of the Evangelical Movement of the Eighteenth Century chiefly consist in the Propagation of Dissent? An Inquiry suggested by an Article in the Church Quarterly Review of July, 1877. By the BISHOP OF LLANDAFF. (London: Rivingtons, 1877.)
WE gladly acknowledge the courtesy of the Bishop of Llandaff and his publishers in forwarding to us his Lordship's pamphlet for review; a courtesy which would be ill-returned were we to pass it by with a mere acknowledgment. At the same time it is idle to conceal that we feel a certain awkwardness in reviewing an Inquiry which is intended to lead up to an answer traversing certain conclusions of our own, inasmuch as the judicial impartiality proper to a reviewer becomes in such a case peculiarly difficult. We trust, however, that in the remarks we are bound to make, all who are acquainted with the very extensive literature of the subject will see that we are not merely amply fortified with authorities for each detail of what we assert, but that we are not guilty of keeping any material facts out of sight. It is the whole truth, and not only a partial aspect of it, that we seek to present.
And when we come to think over the Bishop's pamphlet we feel that after all he does not contradict the main contention of our article as to the schismatic tendency of the proceedings of the Evangelical leaders. So far from this, we find him making certain grave admissions which concede nearly all we contend for.
The Bishop admits, that supposing our reviewer's facts are true and he makes no attempt to refute them-'it may well indeed be questioned whether the movement has not been rather the cause of a burden than a blessing' (p. 6).
The Bishop admits, as to the acts attributed to Venn of Huddersfield, and others, that, 'taking them for granted'—and he nowhere disputes their reality-' we may, and ought to, admit' that they did tend to the 'encouragement of schism' (p. 13).
The Bishop admits, that all persons of good sense agree to condemn 'some of the steps taken by some of the Evangelical leaders' (p. 16).
The Bishop admits, that, 'even under the circumstances under which they found themselves, true wisdom would have counselled a patient waiting upon God, rather than the taking a step which might eventually lead to a greater amount of strife and division' (p. 19).
Seeing, then, that his Lordship admits that our reviewer's conclu
sions are warranted by the facts which constitute his premises, and that he does not rebut those facts, what remains to him? We believe that we describe the Bishop's argument fairly when we say that, having admitted the acts, and the tendency of the acts, he defends the actors on the following grounds :
I. That all the Evangelical leaders are not justly chargeable with the disorderly and schismatical proceedings attributed to the most prominent of them.
II. That there is an excuse for those who went furthest astray in the circumstances in which they were placed; that it was to be expected that their zeal should outrun their discretion.
III. That (and here his Lordship betakes himself to an ad hominem argument),-that High Churchmen need not talk, for if Evangelicalism propagated Dissent, High Churchmanship has propagated Popery (p. 9); that if Evangelicals have been indiscreet, so have High Churchmen (p. 15); that if allowances have to be made for High Churchmen like Laud, the same should be made for Evangelicals like Venn (p. 13).
IV. That Evangelical teaching helped the country at the time of the French Revolution.
V. As to our reviewer's charge that the societies founded by Evangelicals did not rest on Church principles, his Lordship alleges the support they received from Churchmen, but he does not rebut the charge. He admits the mistake made by the Church Missionary Society in reference to Colombo, but says it ought not to be laid to the door of the founders of the society.
And, generally, he refers the growth of Dissent partly to the decline of the Church under the Hanoverian sovereigns, and partly to the increase of population; while he endeavours to obviate the charge of the immorality of Wales under Evangelical teaching by alleging that it was just as bad before.
The fact is that the Bishop is still under the dominion of Sir James Stephen's dictum that 'the first generation of the Evangelical clergy were the second founders of the Anglican Church'-a subject as to which Sir James's connexion with the Clapham sect' would scarcely help him to take an impartial view. Accordingly, the Bishop's pamphlet is an industrious attempt to maintain this proposition, and his first step is, almost necessarily, though we think somewhat ungenerously, to charge our reviewer with the suppression of a fact which, if true, would indeed be important.
'He should have fairly given his readers to understand,' says the Bishop, ‘that there was a body of Evangelical labourers who were independent of the Methodists, and nearly contemporaneous with them, whose labours had an immediate and remarkable influence upon the clergy of England' (p. 4).
The latter portion of this sentence is a quotation from H. Venn's Life of his grandfather. Now, this is all very well for the biographer to allege as his belief, but when he comes to facts he has to make a statement which is very different,
'the six clergymen whom I have named, together with my grandfather, were all led into similar views within about ten years after the time from which Mr. Wesley dates the final adoption of his religious sentiments.'
Now, bearing this 'about ten years after' in mind, can any one conceive of Venn, oscillating as he did between Cambridge and London, coming to his view independently of the influence of Whitfield and Wesley, who were then agitating the whole religious mind of England? Besides this, we know that his early spiritual adviser was an Oxford Methodist, viz. the Rev. Bryan Broughton. Had it been 'ten years before' instead of ten years after, and had we not known of the connexion with Mr. Broughton, the Bishop might have had some case. As it is, we concur with Mr. Philip, whose opinion is supported by Sir James Stephen, the very writer whom the Bishop follows, although upon this crucial point he bears us out entirely, that
'that great body of the Church of England assuming the title of Evangelical may trace back its spiritual genealogy by regular descent from Whitfield. The consanguinity is attested by historical records and the strictest family resemblance. The quarterings of Whitfield are entitled to a conspicuous place in the Evangelical scutcheon, and they who bear it are not wise in being ashamed of their blazonry.'
Thus much on the Bishop's preliminary point. A still more important question, but one which the Bishop and Mr. Venn (the biographer) seem alike to shun is-Did these seven men unite with the Methodists and work with them, and so become co-partners in the responsibility of their course?
Surely the Bishop has forgotten that the first name on Mr. Venn's list is Grimshawe, than whom John Wesley had no more devoted adherent, and the last name, Venn's own, equally devoted to Lady Huntingdon. And who that is acquainted with Methodist literature can be ignorant of the names of Romaine, Conyers, Adams, &c.? Surely further argument is superfluous.
On p. 28 this point is incidentally raised again-'Is the reviewer aware,' asks the Bishop, 'that the Rev. Griffith Jones, Rector of Llanddowror, and one of the Fathers of the Evangelical movement, &c., &c.'? We are perfectly familiar with the history and work of Griffith Jones, but who that knows them could have styled him an Evangelical Father in the controversial sense of the word? Let the reader judge. Jones was ordained by Bishop Bull in 1709. He was an indefatigable parish priest. On the Saturdays before Communion Sundays he said the prayers in the church, and after the second lesson catechised (so to say) the intending communicants. The ignorance which he found led him to establish circulating schools throughout Wales, in which he was aided by a liberal donation of Welsh Bibles and other books by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. His efforts met with unexpected success, efforts which
1 Sir James Stephen's Essay on the Evangelical Succession.