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unsuspected apparently by any man; and why was the ancient custom discontinued (a custom coeval with the parochial system, and almost a necessary part of it), so that our old parishes were not subdivided, and new churches erected, as occasion required? And surely we can but reply, while men slept, the enemy came, and sowed tares among the wheat; the evil grew up gradually and silently; men's attention was engrossed by other subjects; and the growing wants of our population were unobserved and unconsidered. Men knew that every parish had its church; that the supply had once been amply sufficient; and they did not even suspect that it was becoming defective. That our church-room was not generally deficient a century and a half ago, is indicated by the rareness of consecrations; especially as the general attention which they excited, could hardly have failed to direct to the subject, the thoughts of pious and munificent men, if any considerable want had existed 1. That no suspicion of its existence did actually prevail, seems certain from the language of the great divines, who flourished under the Stuart dynasty. The want or remoteness of churches seems never to have occurred to them as favouring the cause of dissent; and in recommending
Especially the consecration of Jesus Chapel (in the parish of St. Mary, Southampton), by Bishop Andrews, on which occasion a full account of all the proceedings was published in a small volume.
deeds of Christian munificence, the erecting of them is not enumerated, even when they speak of strictly religious charities, as“ erecting schools, maintaining lectures of divinity, erecting colleges of religion, and retirement from the noise, and more frequent temptations of the world 1." In their eyes the parochial system of the Church appeared to be a victory already gained, a strong hold already set up. It remained to avail ourselves of it, not to complete it. And such probably was the state of the case. Accordingly the laws no longer offered inducements to church building. There had been a time when the subdivision of parishes was easy, and the founder became the patron of his own endowment; but the need was gone by, and the opportunity was no longer offered. Provision was already made for the continual repair of the existing houses of prayer, and nothing more was required. And this sense of security once produced, naturally continued undisturbed. During the first half of the eighteenth century, political faction glowed at the heart of the English nation, and twice burst forth into the flames of civil war. Meanwhile, the dominant party, for many years after
1 Taylor's Holy Living, chap. iv. 8 8. It seems hardly possible that so obvious a work as church building, if there had
real need for it, should have been omitted here by one who had so large experience in different parts of the country, and whose practical advices are so much founded on his own experience. The same remark applies to Law's “Serious Call."
the accession of the house of Hanover, regarded with jealous and bitter animosity, the influence of the clergy, whom they suspected (not unreasonably) of being the secret adherents of the exiled family. Any measure' which tended to augment that influence, was for that very tendency unacceptable; and at one time serious designs appear to have been formed, even against the endowments of the universities. When a better feeling was at length restored, a period of war succeeded, first for our colonies abroad, then for our national existence; wherein we stood, with God's help, singly against the world. During such times, it could hardly be expected that any state authority should propose the erection of new churches, and the subdivision of parishes. From the clerical body such a proposal could hardly come; for early in the period in question, they were deprived of their constitutional mode of expressing their desires and sentiments. One cause more, and that a painful one, cannot be suppressed. It was a day of reproach for the English Church. From causes into which it is needless to inquire, clergy and laity alike seem for a season to have slumbered and slept. The golden opportunity passed unimproved, and they have left to their children the more arduous task of repairing the evil, which seasonable exertions might have prevented.
1 E. g. the establishment of Episcopacy in the American colonies, even without the demand of any fund for its support.
MEASURES SUGGESTED FOR THE RESTORATION OF THE
The facts adduced in the last section, show plainly that a monstrous evil exists among us. It has grown up silently and unobserved, as in the darkness of the night, until men look one upon another with equal astonishment and awe, and find themselves surrounded with a population, which, except in name, can be regarded as little better than heathen. And it is surely a token for good, that the fact, as soon as it has been made known, has awakened so great interest and attention. In this view we may hail the attempts which have been made to apply remedies, which must we know be delusive, because devised on unsound principles. They show at least that men are awakening, and although their eye has been caught not by the sun itself, but by the painted clouds which herald his rising ; they are at least looking in the right direction, and are no longer content to lie still and slumber while thousands are perishing around them. Yet we must not shut our eyes to the fact, that some of these undertakings are of positively injurious tendency, and others, although highly useful, are only fitted to hold a subordinate place, and must never be esteemed the primary instruments for reducing our population to the obedience of Christ. For projects' wholly independent of our Diocesan and Parochial system, which regard our cities or counties as a heathen mass, out of which individuals are to be snatched by desultory and irregular labours; however well-intended, cannot but be hurtful in the end. They are so, because they substitute a faulty for a sound principle, and divert us from the only means from which we can hope for large and beneficial results. And again, when individuals or associations labour to supply the deficiency of pastoral superintendence in a parish of thirty, fifty, or sixty thousand souls, (as is the case with our District Visiting Societies and the like,) they do well indeed for the season; they afford an aid which the pastor cannot but hail thankfully; yet after all it is but a temporary expedient. The remedy is inadequate; not because the labours of the laity, and of every one of Christ's people are unacceptable to Him, or useless to His Church; but because their place is as fellow-labourers in aid of the appointed ministers of God's word and Sacraments, not (as they are practically in these cases) to be substitutes for