« ПредишнаНапред »
These are some of the grounds on which our opinions are formed ; and, with every respect for the high authority which has now called them forth, as well as the many arguments which from time to time have come under our notice on the same view of the question, we must still adhere to those opinions, until more weighty reasons are brought forward against them, than any which have been yet advanced.
SCHOOLS FOR THE CHILDREN OF THE CLERGY.
Sir,—The difficulty which is experienced by ministers of the Church, who have small incomes, in procuring for their children a suitable education, has long appeared to me a subject calling for serious attention. Many of the beneficed clergy have large families, and their means are not sufficient to enable them to provide for them, in the event of their decease, without in many cases insuring their lives, and the annual premium which they are thus called upon to pay must necessarily diminish the sum which they can afford to expend upon the education of their children. In many cases, indeed, the only legacy which they are capable of leaving to their offspring, is their bringing them up “ in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord,” and thus supplying them with the means of procuring a livelihood after themselves are gathered to their fathers. After that event, it is true that the admirable Clergy Orphan Society holds forth its sheltering wings to protect the bereaved and the destitute, and thus, in some measure, soothes the dying bed of many a departing minister of Christ. But it appears to me that another society of a somewhat similar description is much called for in the Church; I shall endeavour, therefore, with your permission, to sketch what I conceive such an institution ought to be: and, if I am correct in my conjecture, there is a Naval School already established nearly upon the principle which I wish to recommend. Let a school then for the education of the children of the clergy be founded in a central situation in England; the neighbourhood of Birmingham or Leicester, for instance. Let it be placed under the superintendence of the Archbishops and Bishops of the realm, and a standing committee composed of friends to the Church; and let every clergyman who sends a child to that school pay for his education a sum to be fixed by the committee ; varying, however, in proportion to the amount of his income. The zeal which the dignified clergy bave always exhibited in “ labours of love" of this description, leaves no room to doubt of their ready acquiescence, for I believe that no man can see the daily proofs of their active benevolence—and I am sure I shall excite no jealous feeling by naming the amiable Archbishop of Canterbury, and the exemplary Bishop of London, as splendid instances of christian munificence-without blessing the Almighty for raising up such prelates in the Church, in the days of her peril and necessity. But it appears to me that there is no need of encroaching still further upon the willing liberality of the bench : the establishment I am recommending would, I feel convinced, under their management alone, defray its own expenses ; and if it should be deemed necessary to call for the aid of the clerical body at large, their contributions might be bestowed in founding exhibitions at the Universities for those scholars who are intended for the same venerable profession which their fathers followed before them. In order that I may show how much an institution of the nature I am advocating is needed, I shall lay before you an estimate of the average expenses of a clergyman with an income of 2001. per annum ; due attention to which, I should think, will convince the most sceptical.
Expenses of maintenance for himself, wife, and
five children, certainly not less than . £100 per ann.
15 Expense of insurance of life, say for 1,000l. 35 Clothing, &c.
Even upon this calculation, which I have made at the lowest possible rate, 101. per annum is all that remains for the education of his children. But with a school of the description I have stated, of the advantages offered by which he would be enabled to avail bimself, part of his insurance expenditure might be dropped, and then he would have a fund of 201. or 301. to devote to its support. Let, then, every contributor of 201. per annum have the privilege of nominating a child to be educated in this establishment; and this sum I have been led to name from perusing the last report of the Clergy Orphan School, where I find that the average annual expense of the education of each boy is nearly 271.13s. But I believe this expenditure might be reduced, or at any event the excess above 201. might be readily collected in the shape of a fund to be raised by the means above recommended : viz. that of making every incumbent contribute for the education of his child in proportion to his income, without naming any definite sum, that sum in no case, however, to be less than 201. And, moreover, the wealthier clergy who have no families would, I am confident, come forward with alacrity to contribute their aid to the establishment of an institution which you
with me is so essential to the welfare of the Church. These matters, however, will naturally be left to be considered in the details of my plan. Such is a mere hint of my scheme, which may be made to einbrace both the male and female branches of the families of the clergy. But even this hasty sketch will, I trust, call attention to the subject. I shall feel delighted if it do so, and shall be most ready to cooperate with any of your correspondents or yourself in reducing to symmetry what I feel convinced may be made an instrument of incalculable good. I may add, that upon this plan might be engrafted a scheme for apprenticing the scholars to members of the legal or medical professions, similar to that of the Clergy Orphan Society. And perhaps it might be advisable to connect with it a Divinity School for the reception of those who have taken their degrees at the university, and are often at
a loss for a suitable plan in which to pursue their professional studies before they are admitted to holy orders. Nor do I apprehend that there would be any difficulty in procuring a charter from the Crown to ensure the furtherance and perpetuity of so useful an institution.
THE PORTRAITURE OF SOCINIANISM.
(Taken from the Autobiography of a Dissenting Minister.) “My readers may remember that in my account of my residence in the town of K-, I have recorded the formation of an Unitarian chapel by transmutation of a Presbyterian chapel ; I have now to record an attempt to raise an Unitarian congregation in the town of Z—, but the attempt was ultimately a failure. In the town of Z- there was no Presbyterian chapel to be used for the purpose, as there had been in the town of K-; and the number of persons in 2- at all approaching to the Unitarian faith, or want of faith, was so exceedingly small, that I absolutely was in amazement at the attempt. This event scarcely perhaps comes directly within the line of my history—yet being myself a Dissenter, I am interested in all manner of Dissenterisms; and as the matter occasioned some talk in my congregation, my attention of course was directed to it. I would not wilfully write anything unjust concerning this sect, which may contain some serious and pious persons ; but for the most part I have observed that they are not remarkable for seriousness, but rather for the reverse. And now that I am on the subject, I know not why I may not, by way of instructive digression, say a few more words, which may give to the public a knowledge of what is more talked about than understood. In London there are many Unitarians, but they are scarcely seen, for they are not sufficiently numerous to make much of an impression, or to fill up any great space in the religious world, and their peculiar features are not very distinguishable. Amongst Unitarians, as well as amongst all other sects, there must be, of course, a greater moral variety; therefore, the remarks which I am about to make must not be taken as applicable to every individual in the sect, but merely as generally descriptive. The most obvious feature in Unitarianism is, that its faith is rather negative than positive ; and if any one ask what are the opinions of the Unitarians on religious topics, the truest and most compendious answer is, that they reject almost all the doctrines which the rest of the christian world receive. They do indeed profess to acknowledge the divine authority of the New Testament; but as they do not admit the doctrine of the inspiration of the writers of the several books, they go very near to reduce the divine to a mere human authority. They talk of the evangelists and apostles writing as mere honest men and credible witnesses, according to the best of their judgment and ability; so that, after all, the Unitarian's divine authority of the New Testament does not amount to much more than the divine authority of Hume's History of England. They speak of Jesus Christ as an inspired teacher ; but as for any idea of the blood of Christ
cleansing from all sin, their explanation of it is such as to represent the blood of the apostles and martyrs equally efficacious for that purpose. The first process in order to get rid of the texts obnoxious to their theory, is to call them interpolations; but where that cannot be very decently done, then they are called strong oriental figures : but if all that will not do, then, as the apostles were fallible men, it is possible that they might have been in error sometimes ; and of course, they must have been wrong when they contradict the modern Unitarian theory. I have been frequently led by curiosity to hear their preachers, and I think I have not unfairly stated their peculiar theology and criticism. Their congregations are not very numerous, and their chapels are but thinly attended, except now and then in the case of some peculiarly eloquent preacher—and then the audience is got together rather to hear man's eloquence, than to attend upon the worship of God. Those of their sermons which I have heard are either meagre talkings upon some common-places of morals, or sophistical underminings of some doctrine of the gospel. They seem, generally speaking, to have but light ideas of sin, regarding rather its physical and temporal inconvenience, than its moral enormity or future consequences. The general effect of their preaching seems to be to produce a habit of scoffing at things sacred ; and they frequently make a joke of those matters which, being above their comprehension, they think to be contrary to reasonthough I question whether many of them know what reason is. The difference between Unitarianism and infidelity is so slight, that men pass from one to the other, without their neighbours being sensible of it. Considering how lightly, for the most part, they regard religion, I almost wonder that they take so much pains to make proselytes; but they are always boasting of the increase of their numbers ; their lytes, however, are not made by converting the irreligious to religion, but by bringing men over from one opinion to another. They boast of opening new chapels, but they say not a word of those that they shut up for want of hearers.
The formation of the Unitariau interest at Z- was as complete a specimen of zeal without knowledge as I ever saw or heard of. There was a corn-merchant in the town, a man of good property, and altogether a man very fair to pass in the world. He was, for a man in business, very fond of reading, and he liked not a little the reputation of intellect; and thinking that he might grow wiser and wiser by reading, he read a very great deal ; and being fond of argument and demonstration, he was always arguing against mystery, and what he called absurdity. He was professedly a Dissenter, and used to subscribe to a Dissenting chapel in the town, which he seldom attended. About fourteen miles from 2– there was a larger town, in which was a congregation of Unitarians, amounting in number to about seventy or eighty persons. This congregation had a new minister, a young man, who had left the religion in which he had been brought up, and had become a convert to Unitarianism. In the violence of his newly awakened zeal, he had a fancy for converting all the world to his opinions, but he could not make much progress in the town where he was settled. He preached with great fervour against the absurdities, as he called them, of the popular faith ; but he made very little impression,
and very little addition did he make to the number of his hearers. Understanding that in the town of Z- there was a person suspected of an attachment to the Unitarian theory, this zealous young man soon made acquaintance with him, and succeeded in persuading him to use all his influence for the establishment of the Unitarian cause in the town. There were two or three more individuals who would very probably join in the party, if the thing were once set on foot; and it was some gratification to the vanity of a worldly-minded man to be the founder of a sect--so that the corn-merchant listened to the persuasions of the zealot, and resolved to take the matter into serious consideration. None but an Unitarian would think of starting a new congregation, having but one individual to begin with ; and in truth it may be said that this cornmerchant was the only individual that was at all concerned with any degree of interest or feeling for the establishment of the new chapel. He had indeed a family of several sons and daughters growing up ; he had also several men in his employ, and he had some little influence over one or two cottagers, and some few small shopkeepers, who would follow him whithersoever he went, and would be his fellow-worshippers, whether it were in an Unitarian chapel or a Mahometan mosque.
This corn-merchant, and all his followers, could not muster up among them the means of building a chapel or paying a minister, nor indeed was so bold a step.contemplated, at least, not at present, they said ; for they were really sanguine, enough, at first starting, to imagine that they should make rapid progress in converting the inhabitants of the town, and in bringing them all over to the new doctrine. In the first instance a room, or loft, or corn-chamber, or something of that kind, capable of containing about forty or fifty persons, was fitted up with benches and a pulpit; and the zealous young minister came over to 2–, to open the chapel in due form. Curiosity brought together more than fifty people, so that the place was inconveniently full, at which the young preacher was highly delighted, and he pointed out the absurdity of all the received doctrines of Christianity : and because some of the people stared with astonishment at the boldness of his assertions, he thought that they listened with a profound and pleased attention. The fact is, that this young man was really a person of some genius and of a vivid imagination, but his literature was very scanty, and his powers of reasoning were altogether feeble and imperfect. He was of very agreeable manners, pleasant in conversation, and, with those who knew no better, he might even pass for a scholar. His reading was altogether confined to Unitarian tracts and light literature, so that his mind had, comparatively speaking, no exercise; but he was eloquent, and very showy in his eloquence. This opening of the Unitarian chapel occurred early in the summer, and the young gentleman engaged, just by way of beginning, to come over to Z every other Sunday, to give an evening lecture ; and he recommended the corn-merchant himself to become a laypreacher, and, by the help of an Unitarian Liturgy and some printed sermons, to keep the chapel open at other times. This chapel was situated up a yard, or narrow passage, and therefore, in order to give publicity to the thing, a painted board was placed over the entrance to the passage, directing strangers “ To the UNITARIAN Chapel.” The town was now inundated with Unitarian tracts, but very few people read