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Thus the Church has never thoroughly harmonized with the popular part of our Constitution ; and we have been often amused, by observing the soreness with which some English clergymen still speak of the House of Commons and its Committees-as if the terrors of the Long Parliament were still haunting their memories. This notorious spirit of Toryism would of itself tend to alienate the affections of the people from the clergy as a body; but other causes have coinbined to aggravate the mischief.
“The system of Church patronage, for instance, while it makes many of the clergy directly
dependent on the rich and great, makes all of them independent of popular favour; and their course of life keeps them somewhat remote from the contact of public opinion. Again, the rank which the English clergy hold in society is often prejudicial to their influence with the poor. Birth, habit and education, have identified them with the higher orders ;-they share their feelings, and enjoy their pleasures; and they sometimes are ignorant, from mere inexperience, of the language and manner which are most intelligible to the common people, and most readily find the way to their hearts. Hence has arisen the peculiar unpopularity of their style and manner of preaching. It trembles to offend a cultivated taste and a critical judgment :-it is generally, therefore, free from gross extravagances, but is, beyond all other preaching, tame, and unimpressive to uneducated minds. The same character prevails in their writings ;-their Tracts, intended for circulation among the poor, are mostly stiff, and have about them an air of lecturing and prosing like that of a condescending superior, addressing readers almost of a different species from himself.
“ Other causes have their weight with the middling classes of society in indisposing them to the existing Establishment. The great incomes and the pluralities enjoyed by the higher clergy cannot but appear excessive ;-the difficulty of procuring places of Worship, and ministers of the Established Church, to meet the increased population of the country in large towns and in manufacturing districts, argues something deficient in its actual constitution : And wherever the blame ought most to fall, the general impression is unfavourable to the Church, from the feeling, that while it absorbs a large part of the revenue of the country, it does not sufficiently perform its work. The old laws against Conventicles, and the inflexible strictness with which the service of the Church is confined to the prs scribed forms of the Liturgy, place its ministers also at : disadvantage, when opposed to the unfettered and flexible activity of the Dissenters. Whilst any other Christian teacher
address an audience wherever he can find one, and in the language which he may judge most appropriate to the oceasion, a clergyman of the Establishment may preach only within the walls of bis parish Church ;-nay, be may not preach there, unless he choose also to read the morning or evening prayer at the same time—a regulation which makes it impossible to open the Churches to any purpose in country parishes on any other day than Sunday We are not now discussing the propriety or impropriety of these and similar regulations ;-we are only asserting, that they tend to make the Church less popular than we wish it to be :-and when it is notorious that no steps have been taken for the last two centuries to amend or improve its institutions, it is not unnatural that it should be taxed with indolence and indifference, and with thinking more of its dignity than its duties."-Pp. 502-504.
Next, the Reviewer remarks on some things in the present state of the Church of England which are bad in themselves, independent of any effect which they may produce on public opinion. For example, “ The Church of England is Exclusive, and has, in many instances, provoked the separation from it, which it affects at once to lament and condemn.” Again, “The Government and External Constitution of the Church are full of abuses, and bear divers marks of the mistaken notions and extreme misgovernment of the times in which they were formed, and of those which neglected to amend them. It may never have occurred to some of our readers," (the Reviewer proceeds--but bappily we cannot even imagine the same thing of the readers of the CHRISTIAN REFORMER,) « that the Greek word, Ecclesia, which we translate Church,' was the peculiar term used to denote the general assembly of the people in the old democracies; that it essentially expresses a popularly constituted meeting ;' and that such, in great measure, was the original constitution of the Christian society. We need not say with what different associations our English Version of it is now conneoted; we need not ask what popular elements are left, ip a body in which the people have no voice at all, either by themselves or their representatives ; where the chief officers, the Bishops, are
appointed by the Crown, and are accountable to no one but the Archbishops and the Crown for the manner in which they discharge their trust.” Then,” says the Reviewer,
comes the system of Pluralities and Dispensations,the relics of the worst times of Popery, which the Protestant Church of England retains, even in the nineteenth century. One
person may hold two benefices, if they are within forty miles of one another; and the distance is always computed, not by the number of miles along the road, but as if the incumbent conld fly with the crow, or ride on a steeple-hunt from one of his cures to the other ;to say nothing of the absurdity of fixing on a such a distance as the maximum to be allowed by law ;--for if a minister can discharge his duties in a parish forty miles distant from him, he may just as easily fulfil them in one that is four hundred. Again, those persons who have taken degrees in civil law, and the domestic chaplains of noblemen, are permitted to hold two benefices. In the one case, this indulgence was granted to encourage a study which the clergy in ancient times always laboured to propagate ; but pow, amid the ignorance of the Civil law which prevails in England, and when the degree of Doctor of Laws does not necessarily imply an acquaintance with its simplest rudiments, its continuance is utterly ridiculous. In the other, it marks how little the Reformation in England was able to correct abuses patronized by the Aristocracy; while the readiness with which the friends of the Church acquiesced in them, shows how greatly they wanted some of the most essential qualities in the character of perfect reformers."
An extraordinary defect in the Church of England, observed by all intelligent foreigners, is the total want of any system of Education, peculiarly fitted for those who are to become ministers of the church, and this is aniinadverted on with spirit by the Reviewer. A parish boy is taught the trade of a shoemaker before he is expected to be entrusted with his neighbours' shoes, but the souls of the whole parish are entrusted to a priest who, for any thing his teachers at the University know to the contrary, may not be able to read so as to be heard and understood by the parishioners in the pew next the desk. We say nothing of his possible ignorance of divinity, or of the actual ignorance of it and of the disinclination for theological studies which is so notorious amongst the clergy.
The object of the CHRISTIAN REFORMER, as expressed
The Fountain of Marah. By Mrs. HeMANS. [From “The Amulet.” See Christian Reformer, p. 391.] “And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter.
“And the people murmured agaiust Moses, saying, What shall we drink?
“And he cried unto the Lord; and the Lord showed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet.”—Exod. xv. 23—25.
Where is the tree the prophet threw
Into the bitter wave ?
The thirsty soul to save?
Quaker Epistle Extraordinary. We have not inserted in this volume the Quakers Yearly Epistle, there being little in it that is interesting to the general reader. It is in every respect a poor composition. The two passages that follow are the only parts worthy of being extracted.
“We feel tenderly for such of our dear friends as come together in very small companies in their religious meetings, but we earnestly desire that they may not relax in their diligence, or allow either their solitary situation, or their outward concerns, to prevent a due and punctual attendance of these meet
« In the course of the last year the circumstances of the commercial inhabitants of this country have been such as to involve numbers in great distress and perplexity. Members of our Society, some, we fear through their own imprudence, have partaken of this calamity. We feel for such as are in trouble, and desire that their sufferings inay be conducive to their lasting benefit. To those who, in the management of their tem
poral concerns, are now struggling under difficulties, which it pois possible are only fully known to themselves and to the Great Searcher of hearts, we would offer
a word of encouragement and sympathy. We entreat you to act with prudence and uprightness, and so to live from day to day, that you can in humble trust place your whole dependence upon the Lord; then may you entertain the consoling belief that His protecting care will he extended towards you. And may we all, dear friends, be so ieştructed by the things that have been suffered, as to fix our hearts upon
a treasure in the heavens that faileth not!" On the subject of the last paragraph, another Epistle was addressed to the Quaker body by the Yearly Meeting.