Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]

hands of the founder, so that there was the strongest encouragement to build churches wherever they were wanted; which encouragement is wholly withheld under the present Act. At the same time, where the various parties can agree among themselves, and feel confidence in the choice of the patron, the Act affords great conveniences for effecting the desired object. It needs only be added, that devoting a considerable portion of every new church and chapel for free sittings for the poor is an object of great importance, and is very properly provided for under the above-mentioned Act.

One instance in which the want of churchroom has been particularly felt, and which requires to be timely attended to, is the case of national and other charitable schools for the poor. To remedy the deficiency, additional, and often inconvenient, galleries, impeding both sound and ventilation, have been in various instances erected in churches already far too much crowded. The plan of allowing Divine Service to be performed in the school-room has also in some cases been adopted; to which, however, there exists the strong objection, that it tends to destroy that solemnity with which the youthful mind should be early impressed for every thing connected with

the public service of God. Necessity must plead its own excuse; and it is certainly most desirable that such expedients should be allowed where better do not present themselves; but where there is room for choice, the following remarks of our celebrated ritualist will weigh forcibly with every lover of primitive usage and ecclesiastical decorum.

“I cannot conclude,” remarks Mr. Wheatley, “ till I have observed what respect and reverence those primitive Christians used to shew to the church, as the solemn place of worship, and where God did more peculiarly manifest his presence. And this we find to have been very great. “They came into the church,' saith St. Chrysostom, as into the palace of the Great King, with fear and trembling;' upon which account he there presses the highest modesty and gravity upon them. Before their going into the church they used to wash, at least their hands, as Tertullian probably intimates, and Chrysostom expressly tells us ; carrying themselves while they were there with the profoundest silence and devotion. Nay, so great was the reverence they bore to the church, that the emperors themselves (who otherwise never went without their guard about them), when they went into the church used to lay down their arms, to leave their guard behind them,

and to put off their crowns; reckoning that the less ostentation they made of power and greatness there, the more firmly the imperial majesty would be entailed upon them. Examples, one would think, sufficient for us to use all such outward testimonies of respect as are enjoined by the church, and established by the custom of the age we live in, as marks of honour and reverence; a duty recommended by Solomon, wbọ charges us to look at our feet, when we go into the House of God; being an allusion in particular to the rite of pulling off the shoes, used by the Jews and other nations of the East, when they came into sacred places; and is as binding upon us to look to ourselves, by uncovering our heads, and giving all other external testimonies of reverence and devotion."

The present discussion cannot be better closed than with the following remarks from a recent Visitation Sermon, by an author before mentioned, whose enlightened zeal for the erection of new churches has done so much honour to himself, and has been of so much service to the religious interests of his country. His observations will doubtless prove consolatory to those benevolent individuals who feel distressed that, from the limited nature of their resources, or other causes, they can effect comparatively little in those labours of Chris

tian philanthropy which demand more time, talents, or pecuniary ability, than falls to their lot, and will shew how every person, circumscribed as may be his powers, may turn his benevolent wishes into a beneficial channel.

« Those who are unable,” remarks Dr. Yates, « to afford any considerable assistance to the actual construction of churches, may be able to assist largely and effectually in the advancement of their Saviour's spiritual dominion. They may, upon every proper occasion, urge the necessity and demonstrate the advantages of public worship, as celebrated in our excellent Liturgy; so full, so comprehensive, so emphatic, so consolatory, so truly scriptural, that in its due and pious use, every point of necessary Christian doctrine and Christian practice is stated, explained, and enforced ;-rignorance is instructed, vice restrained, penitence consoled, virtue strengthened, piety confirmed, and hope established. They may give to these awakening and animating duties the undeviating influence of their own example: and thus endeavour to • build up the altar of the Lord that is broken down;-to re-establish the power of habit in favour of our public ordinances, by devout attention, by impressive sensibility, by every possible expression of piety, gratitude, and delight in the performance of the several

sacred and solemn services of our church. Thus may we hope to re-animate the zeal of Christian worshippers; to attract to the courts of our God and Saviour those who have hitherto been strangers there; to induce those to appear twice on the Lord's-day in the house of prayer,' who have by long custom, unhappily for themselves, thought one attendance quite sufficient *." ; 2. We now proceed to offer a few. remarks on the duty of promoting devotion and church principles among the poor, by furnishing them with suitable materials for their private reading and meditation.

The extension of elementary education is raising up in every quarter of the land a mass of readers, whose newly acquired faculty must eventually prove, both to themselves and to every class of the community, either a great blessing or an incalculable injury. There seems, however, no reason to regret that the body of the people are likely to become pos: sessed of this acquisition'; since, were it of no benefit whatever in a secular point of view, it would still, as we have before seei, be highly important for their moral and religious im

* Dr. Yates's Visitation Sermon,'&c. entitled “The Gospel Kingdom,” pp. 29-31.

« AnteriorContinuar »