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THE BISHOP OF LONDON'S FUND.
[Church Review,' March 12, 1864.]
HE report presented to the meeting held at Willis's Rooms last week, comprehensive though it is, yet fails in some important particulars to grasp the whole subject. It
is founded on two propositions,—
1. The proportion of clergy to the population. 2. The proportion of church room to the population. The first of these is a perfectly legitimate basis of calculation; and we have nothing to say against the second, provided the church room be available, and not boarded off by exclusive barriers. But there is another important point which ought to have been taken into account, and that is the proportion of Church Services to the population. The omission of this is not accidental; for we find the question of the multiplication of Services summarily dismissed with this unhappy assumption-that Services, to be available for the poor must be held late in the afternoon or in the evening. Therefore nothing is to be expected
from any increase in the number of Services. indeed hinted that a Service might be interpolated between the afternoon and evening Services on Sundays, but the advantage of such a Service is considered questionable. The multiplication of evening Services, with the Protestant device or conceit of evening Communions, is not what is now wanted to stem the tide of infidelity and ungodliness. The worship of Almighty GOD is not a matter for an evening's amusement, when the day is over: to have life and reality it must be the first and chief work of the day. We are quite ready to allow that mid-day Services are not the most convenient for the poor; but whatever the objections or hinderances may be with regard to them, they do not apply to Services at an early hour. If the poor do not make use of early Services, it is because they have not yet learnt the value of them. It may require time to introduce a habit of going to an early Service; but surely it will be better, even though the process seems slow, to train up a people to better habits, than to lower the Church's Services to suit vulgar tastes and inclinations. Theatre-preachings and glare of gas-lights make a show, but is the world made more godly, or religion more worldly? Men will devote the best part of the day to that on which they set their minds, and give the evening to relaxation; if, therefore, they occupy themselves with their own affairs all the day, and only go to church in the evening, we may conclude they go there because they
have nothing else to do. The poor are not naturally averse to early Services, as may be seen in parishes where such Services have been long established; witness, too, the Services abroad going on from early dawn to mid-day. It is to be regretted that the report should enunciate what must be regarded as a libel on the poor, and what may seem a miserable excuse for want of energy on the part of the clergy. We may, however, rest assured that, at any rate in this particular, the report does not represent the feelings of the main body of the London clergy.
In another part of the report, it is stated that there are many churches comparatively empty, where there is more than sufficient population to fill them. It is impossible to form an opinion upon this statement until more information is given about these churches. If they are be-pewed, the poor have no business in them; and no wonder if, standing in a low neighbourhood, they are empty. The assertion that there is in these cases plenty of room goes for nothing, unless it can be shown that there are churches free and open to the first comers, which, nevertheless, are comparatively empty. That the report did not intend to afford this information is evident from its total silence on the pew question-a question, too, which was not allowed to be mooted at the meeting. This was a great mistake it is of no use attempting to hide the evil of the pew system-it is evident to all, and temperate discussion of the question would not have been out of place.
We do not so much want more churches as more free Services in those we have already, with a competent staff of clergy at each church. If our churches could be thrown open, and the Services doubled, we should at once have an available amount of church room such as the Executive Committee can only hope to attain after years of labour.
CHURCH ACCOMMODATION MADE EASY.
[Church of the People,' April, 1864.]
HE report presented to the meeting of clergy convened by the Bishop of London, at Willis's Rooms, on March 3rd, is far from
satisfactory. The statement of the Executive Committee is not only very imperfect, but a grand opportunity for taking into consideration the pew question, as it affects the metropolis, has been lost.
The report gives the proportion of clergy to the population, and the proportion of church room to the population, but on two most important points it fails to give any information whatever. It neither gives the proportion of services to the population, nor the proportion of free and unappropriated seats to the population, and yet these two are the real measure of the spiritual wants of every large town. The result arrived at, that the church room provided is 18 per cent. may be interesting to those curious in statistics, but is of no practical use. A very large proportion of