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that loftier standard of devotion which it should be the object of the National Church to foster and disseminate.
And again, in the Church of Scotland it has been found possible, without the slightest breach of ecclesiastical order, or compromise of principle on either side, for prelates and dignitaries of the Church of England to preach in the Presbyterian pulpits of humble Highland villages, of great academical institutions, and of churches consecrated by every sacred recollection of ancient Scottish Presbyterianism. Is it unreasonable to ask that the same liberty which the State and the Church have freely allowed in Scotland should be conceded in England ? Not a single ancient ecclesiastical principle would be violated, not a single tradition of the early Reformed Church of England would be broken, if from time to time this were done, with the checks which in the English Church, from its multiplicity of authorities, might be far more easily contrived. The leading preachers, both of the Presbyterian North and of the Nonconforming South, might be invited to lend their special gifts for the edification of the congregations which now hang by thousands on the lips of the eloquent pastors of the National Church, and which on that very account would be well prepared to receive whatever benefit might be conferred, and guarded from any injury that might be apprehended, at the hands of less familiar teachers.
Two most important acts have taken place within the last year, which simplify the possibility of cooperation between the Church and its Nonconforming children. One is the Burials Act, carried by the persistent energy of the two Primates against a host of
Church objections, which have, however, melted away in the presence of an accomplished fact. The proposal of Mr. Pearson for the joint use of the churchyard and church at Sonning is an admirable example not only of difficulties overcome, but of pacification introduced by the passing of the Act. The other is the Revised Version, Revised
Version. which was the joint work of all scholars to whatever religious communion they belonged. The Church of England, no doubt, furnished the core and kernel of the body ; but distinguished scholars were selected, here and in America, from among Presby terians, Methodists, Independents, Baptists, and Unitarians, and in England this combination was cemented at its commencement by the joint partaking in the Holy Communion of the Lord's Supper in Westminster Abbey.
Again, in the wide field of social intercourse and of general co-operation in Christian objects, may we not hope that a time might come when the barriers which exist, not by law but merely by etiquette, custom, fashion, might melt away in a more enlarged consideration of what is due from the central Church to its outlying offshoots? In every parish it is surely not too much to hope that every clergyman should regard the Nonconformist minister of the Nonconformist portion of his flock, not as an enemy, but as a friend, able to reach those whom he cannot reach, supplying ministrations which he cannot supply, just as his own special ministrations would often in like manner be acknowledged and recognised. If one more example may be taken from the Church of the Northern kingdom, the case has been known of a Presbyterian minister of the parish, who, whilst availing himself, on the most friendly terms, of the
Abolition of abuses.
ministrations of a Roman Catholic priest for the humble Roman Catholic peasants that happened to be placed within the borders of his jurisdiction, yet was himself, in all the more ordinary consolations of pastoral life, called in by those very peasants to give the instructions which they felt they could not equally gain from their own less instructed priest. The division of labour, the unity of sentiment, exhibited in so extreme a case, possibly has often been seen, and might always be seen, in the far less antagonistic relations of the English clergy towards the Nonconformists.
It is a saying trite even to wearisomeness, that in these days institutions can only exist in proportion to their proved efficacy and capacity for growth and amelioration. Of no institutions is this so true as of those which, by their connection with religion, pretend to a higher ideal than belongs to the mass of human ordinances; and of religious institutions there is none to which this so much applies as to a Church which, by claiming to be national, claims the support and sympathy of the whole nation. Every ramification which connects the Church with English society is a source, not, as the Puritan and sacerdotal schools would affirm, of weakness, but of strength. What it has to dread is not the oppression or interference of the laity, but their contempt and indifference, which is the cankerworm of the Catholic Church in France, Spain, and Italy. It was said, at the time of the fire in Canterbury Cathedral, that one chief cause of the rapid spread of the conflagration was the accumulation of rubbish, straw, sticks, nests of every kind, which the birds of successive generations had stored or left in the capacious vacancies of that forest of
ancient timber. This is a true parable of the peril which besets a venerable institution such as the English Church. It consists in the gradual growth of old abuses
-of forms which have lost their meaning, which are innocuous in ordinary times, but in moments of excitement furnish the most dangerous combustibles. These are the dry fuel on which in such seasons the spark of popular passion falls, and the gust of party violence fans the flame, and the whole institution is exposed to ruin. It is to clear out these elements of destruction that the energies alike of all Liberal and of all Conservative Churchmen should be engaged. Amongst the wise maxims scattered through Sir Arthur Helps's ‘Thoughts on Government' there is none more clearly and usefully worked out than that in which he insists on the constant need of the class—the rare class—not of Destroyers nor of Defenders, but of Improvers. The true Church defenders are the Church reformers, and the true Church destroyers are those who resist all attempts at change and improvement. 'I am sure,' said the late Bishop Thirlwall, “that the clergyman who is labouring most diligently in his appointed sphere, is the most efficient member of the Church of England Defence Institution, whether his name appear in the roll of its associates or not. I am equally sure that no one is doing the work of the Liberation Society more effectually than one who neglects his duties, lowers his ministerial character, and forfeits the affection and respect of his people.'
What is said here of the great mass of ordinary ministrations is equally true of the larger questions which call for legislation, and which affect the beneficial working of the whole institution.
To sum up all that has been said, in the concluding words of one of the divines quoted above :
*That religious communion will, in the long run, most commend itself to Englishmen, which displays the greatest efficiency in winning souls to Christ; which proves, by a long, firm grasp of its spiritual conquests, the stability and force of its methods; which makes men 'men’and not merely bigots or spiritual invalids; which shows masterly boldness in grappling with that special characteristic of our time, an ever-widening and ever deepening knowledge of nature ; and which has vital power and elasticity enough to adapt itself to all sorts and conditions of men, and to the ever-varying necessities of our modern life.'
And to close in the gallant words of the Bishop of Manchester :
We wish for no exclusive privileges which stand in the way of the fullest, freest enjoyment of their religious liberties by other men. We have no thought of reviving in the nineteenth century the spirit and aims of the seventeenth. The sword of persecution, let us trust, is for ever sheathed. At least, ours shall not be the hands to draw it. And though we hear on many sides, and in bitter, angry tones, the old Roman Censor's ruthless cry, 'Delenda est Carthago,' we trust, if we only do our duty, that the doom of Carthage is still remote from the Church of England, and that, under God's good providence, we shall transmit an institution pregnant with capacities for usefulness, not only unimpaired, but reinvigoratedstrengthened, broadened, popularised—to generations yet unborn.'