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Thus concludes one of the most able, most liberal, and most convincing treatises in defence of our Church, and of all Protestant churches in general which yet retain the truth as it is in Christ, that it has ever fallen to our lot to notice or peruse. In the above remarks will be found an analysis of all the arguments which the learned and zealous author has advanced; we might say, they are an abridgement of the work; for there is not a branch of the inquiry, scarcely a paragraph, which is not introduced in this article. We choose rather to leave the author to tell his own story (though he is not, certainly, to be taxed with the novelties of the dress in which we have robed it), than to garble the narrative by occasional extracts, and illustrative comments; because the subject is of all subjects interesting to a churchman, and the defence of it ought not to be represented under an imperfect light. They who wish to be acquainted with that subject and that defence, may learn them here : but such as wish to see them more fully developed, must go to the original work, which we recommend, without compromise or drawback of any kind, to all who desire to read a work equally deserving of attention as to its style, as well as the important nature of the topic of which it treats. We recommend it, because it deserves attention, and we recommend it with an unqualified commendation.
Art. II.-1. A Sermon preached in the Parish Church of Dorking,
Surrey, on Sunday, Oct. 26, 1828 ; in pursuance of the King's Letter for aiding the Enlargement and Building of Churches and Chapels. By the Rev. GEORGE FEACHEM, M. A. Vicar of Dorking,
Surrey. London: Rivingtons. 1828. Price 1s. 2. The Duty incumbent upon good Christians to provide for the
spiritual Wants of their poorer Brethren. A Sermon preached in the Parish Church of Warnham, Sussex; on Sunday Oct. 13, 1828, in compliance with the Instructions contained in his Majesty's Letter in Aid of the Funds of the Incorporated Society for the Enlargement of Churches and Chapels. By the Rev. Francis EDWARD Thompson, B. A. of Trinity College, Cambridge, and Curate of Warnham. London: Rivingtons. 1828. Price 1s. 6d.
The importance, not to say necessity, of increasing the means of public worship, is sufficiently evident of itself; but it receives confirmation, from the very unequivocal manner in which the King's Letter has been received by the enemies of Christianity and the Church. The authority which has promulgated that document would, it might have been supposed, have secured its objects from all hostile animadversions, except on the part of those obscure and insignificant
writers, whose native tongue is ribaldry and scurrility. Prints which professedly pander to the passions of the low and unprincipled ** filthy dreamers," which “despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities," are found in their vocation, and receive, as they merit, the neglect and contempt of all whose approval is worth a moment's solicitude ; of all, in short, for whose special service they do not exist. But when publications, which, with whatever intentions, aspire to a different class of readers, overstep their province and the decencies of language, to revile a measure formally sanctified and recommended by the highest authority in the constitution, there can be but one conclusion; they are sensible of the great importance of the measure which they revile ; and in their zeal to obstruct it, they lose sight of the decency which commends them to their patrons, and of the duty and respect which a subject owes to a king.
These observations we especially apply to the Morning Herald. No reader of that publication can be unaware, that no means have been left untried in its columns to discourage the legitimate effects of the King's Letter. Language unheard within the precincts of humanized life, and which we therefore abstain from copying into our pages, has, from day to day, disgraced the columns of that paper with regard to this measure. In particular, on one occasion, the Herald, having mentioned that notice had been given in some church that the King's Letter would be read there on the following Sunday, earnestly urges its readers not to be present. Such a notice was certainly unusual ; but it was so far from an unfair stratagem to increase the collection, that it must have had rather a contrary tendency, by allowing opportunity of absence to those who felt disinclined, and who otherwise might have been reduced to the delicate alternative of passing the plate. The Church of England, as a body, certainly stands clear of all those mean and indirect arts of obtaining money, with which some bodies are chargeable. Her fault, if any, is rather the opposite extreme; a reluctance to press her claims except under the severest necessities. Why then should not the parishioners attend their Church? Had so great an offence been offered that it could only be expiated by the deliberate neglect of a solemn duty, that of " assembling themselves together?” Must their minister's inexcusable boldness, in venturing to give this atrociously offensive notice, be retaliated against God and their own souls? Must they not only withhold their money, but even their presence, from their Church? It is plain that in all this we have the impotent raving of insubordination and irreligion, which, unable to contravene a measure fraught with their own ruin, and the exaltation of order and piety, would, rather than contain the “venom of their spleen,” risk the display of their hideous features in the gaze of the sun.
VOL. XI. NO, I.
To say nothing of the courtesy due to the minds of the many respectable persons who patronize the Morning Herald, and to whom obloquy is a just and deep offence; and to say nothing, moreover, of that respect which is the constitutional claim of the Sovereign, and which, as a gentleman no less than as a subject, every literary man would, it might be supposed, be forward to yield, the measure in itself appears, certainly, to be as free from objection as any that could be conceived. We have never heard it urged, nor do we expect to hear it, that the Society for Building Churches has, in any instance, misapplied a shilling of its funds. It certainly is the least expensive and the most prudent means of attaining its object of any that could be devised. The necessity of providing additional means of spiritual instruction is evident to all who allow the necessity of those means at all. How is this to be done? We know but of two modes of effecting it: either by a compulsory tax, or a voluntary contribution. The milder mode is resorted to. The Church now puts it to the proof, whether that liberality, which is on every man's lips, has any deeper settlement; and because this proof is required, we are not only called upon by our enemies not to afford it, but, rather than do so, to neglect the evident and most sacred duty of united worship on God's holy day.
But we have done with the Morning Herald. We have mentioned it only as an instance of the strong feeling excited by the King's Letter in the enemies of the Church, among whom we are sincerely sorry to perceive a journal from whose general respectability better things might be expected. The manifestation of this feeling affords a cheering and stimulating assurance, that the great measure lately taken will be abundantly beneficial to our fellow-countrymen. Little indeed need be said of our opponents ; they must find their own bitter retribution in the splendid genuine liberality with which the call has been answered from all parts of the kingdom; for it is deserving of notice, that those parishes whose contributions have been small, have, in many instances, expended large sums in the enlargement and augmentation of their own churches and chapels.
To the encouragement of this truly noble and pious undertaking, the sermons before us are devoted. Offerings in such a cause we are not disposed to examine with the eye of severe criticism; being sensible that our prepossessions, under the circumstances, would obscure our judgment. To institute a cold analysis of the ardent sacrifice of Christian love, would be as thankless an employment as to cavil at the mite of the widow, because it fell short of the ostentatious benefactions of the Pharisee.
It is certain that the public mind requires rather to be informed than stimulated in this matter.
Let the fact be known, and the case may
be safely intrusted to public liberality. But much ignorance and misrepresentation prevail on the subject; and the Clergy, who have done their utmost to remove these impediments, have merited well of their fellow-Christians.
Mr. Feachem's Sermon is on Luke vii. 5. He states the occasion which introduces the text, and the history which follows it; and thence he proceeds to exhort his congregation to imitate the example of the faithful centurion. He details the interest which the pious kings of Judah took in the building and reparation of the temple. He then proceeds to adduce some arguments from the Homily on the repair of churches ; he states some facts with respect to the present appeal ; and concludes with general exhortations.
Mr. Thompson's Sermon is more diffuse. The text is Haggai i. 2. It opens with a view of the circumstances which induced the remonstrance of the prophet, and an application to Christian times and events. The Homily above mentioned is quoted, and the public mind at the time of its publication considered and contrasted with present times. And here the whole question is exceedingly well put in a few Socratic interrogations, which can only be answered as set down, and which must satisfy any candid and Christian mind upon the subject :
First let me ask, Is God to be worshipped by all men or not?
Let me ask then, Is his Sabbath to be observed by the performance of holy Worship in proper places ?
Here again, as Christians, you must answer in the affirmative.
Let me ask again : As the population increases, are not more, and larger, places of worship required?
The affirmative of this must obviously follow from the last proposition.
As then the population among the poorer classes increases more rapidly than in the other classes and as these poorer classes are totally unable of themselves, and from their own means, to afford the expense of increasing their accommodation in places of worship-are they to be driven away to false teachers, or even to be deprived of teachers altogether? God forbid that such should be the case. You will, I am sure, agree with me, my brethren, that either of these results should be averted by all means.
How then is this to be done?
By a simple performance of a very simple duty—the duty incumbent upon those whom God hath blessed with abundance, to minister to the wants of their poorer brethren in Christ. “ While we have time, let us do good unto all men,” saith the Apostle, “but specially unto them that are of the household of faith.”—Pp. 13, 14.
After this clear and decisive piece of reasoning, Mr. Thompson appeals to the hearts of his congregation to bear witness to the eminent blessedness attending a faithful discharge of this duty, and the infinite sorrows and evils which arise from the neglect of spiritual opportunities. He next proceeds to notice the objection on which the text particularly turns; and, in the refutation of this, produces a few facts, which deserve to be universally known, but are, in reality, but partially so :
We are told that the time is not come, that the opportunity has not arrived for the building of the Lord's house.
And we affirm, my brethren, that the time has come, that the opportunity has arrived. And the case shall be made out to your entire satisfaction, if you will vouchsafe only moderate attention to the statement I am about to lay before you.
Formerly, and indeed until very lately, if any place of worship required repairing, enlarging, or rebuilding, the course pursued was the obtaining a brief to that effect. Unfortunately, however, between the place at which money might thus be raised, and the ultimate place of its destination, many resting-places occurred; and at each place remuneration, in the shape of a fee, was naturally demanded. The result was, that not more than one-third of the money thus raised became available for the purpose for which it was given.
This system, as you have already heard from his Majesty's letter, is now abolished. Indeed it must be confessed that of late years it was nearly useless. Of course, my brethren, if you withheld your charity on these occasions, we must believe that you did so from the very best motives. You knew that in doing deeds of charity, your left hand should not know what your right did; and how could this be the case in so large an assemblage of your fellow-Christians? You knew that your Saviour commanded that your alms should be done in secret; and how could this be done, when you were under the gaze of the whole congregation? It was impossible: and, therefore, if the brief-plate did travel unchecked, and almost unburdened through the whole Church-and if it yielded but little silver, and none of gold, as a testimony of your zeal for the welfare of your Christian brethren, we must conclude that you have been actuated by the more refined, but less practised, feelings of true charity.
This system is abolished, and in its room a Society, which has existed for ten years as a private body, is now incorporated by act of Parliament. This Society will receive his Majesty's Letter, whenever their funds are exhausted by proper applications : but there are these improvements upon the old system; first, every farthing bestowed by charitable individuals will be transmitted directly to the treasurer, without the least diminution; and secondly, the money so subscribed will be applied by a committee of able and conscientious men-inen who have so long conducted the affairs of the Society with prudence and success. The best evidence of the good which will be done, is a simple account of the objects attained by this Society, while it existed as a mere private, voluntary, self-established body, supported only by voluntary contributions.
The first fact speaks volumes. Each year of its existence this Society has been instrumental in providing Church-room for more than sixteen thousand persons-on the whole, no less than one hundred and fifty-four thousand six hundred and eighty sittings have been provided by their means.
The next fact proves the purity and excellence of their designs. Out of these one hundred and fifty-four thousand six hundred and eighty sittings no less than one hundred and sixteen thousand five hundred and three sittings are devoted to the poor and labouring classes, who but for this assistance would have been unable to join in Church-worship.
When John the Baptist sent his disciples to inquire concerning Christ, our Saviour's answer told of the deaf restored to hearing, the dumb to speech, the blind to sight, and lepers to cleanness; but the crowning mercy bestowed by his advent was contained in the last words of his reply,—" And the poor have the gospel preached to them.”
I ask you, my brethren, if the Society, for whose interests I am now pleading, has not proved by its acts that it is guided by this holy declaration of our Saviour? When nearly one hundred and twenty thousand, out of one hundred and fifty thousand sittings, are devoted to those really in want of the one thing needful, but who are unable to obtain it of themselves-when money bestowed in the true spirit of charity is thus administered in the same pious spirit, it proves