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Observer, Sept. 1, '71.
to him such a voice from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
We are represented as standing in grace, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God. And in the same epistle all creation is painted as in birth pangs, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God in the resurrection morning. All creation is to share in the glorious liberty, or rather the liberty of the glory. We are looking for the blessed hope, the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. He is coming to change the vile body, and fashion it like unto His own by the energy of His working; and though we know not what we shall be, we know that we shall be like Him when we see Him as He is. The same thing is true of the disciples as of the Master and Lord. The holiness is the root of the glory; in proportion to the purity such will be the splendour, and the measure of the glory will be the measure of the power. But Holy Scripture conducts us to an age past latter-day glory-opening eternity when the Shekinah Presence of God will be perfect and uninterrupted; not even a cloud,-for the cloud indicated the existence of sin, and the contiguity of hostile and disturbing forces. "And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold the Tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them."
The essential holiness of God underlies all moral government and responsibility, all righteousness, or life, or possibilites of victory for the good and the true. When it finally breaks forth unobstructed the result is inconceivable glory. We no longer need to be hidden in clefts of the rock while the supreme splendour passes by, only to gaze sadly on lingering radiance, but on the contrary the holy effulgence rests upon us in the fulness which is blessedness. Outside people may require the old natural luminaries, but no sun, or moon, or stars are needed in the city of the golden. The Father and fountain of all light reveals His face, and the impartial glory bathes the whole city, where no temple is needed. Even a temple, sublime though it be, has a side of awe and darkness, speaking of guilt and sin to be purged and pardoned through the appointed ritualism. But there is no temple in the city where God descends to dwell with His holy ones for
In the deeps of the divine philosophy we can clearly perceive how it is that the holy are glorified and the unholy perish. It must be so in the very nature of things. The foundations of immortality are laid in the regeneration, in the supernatural birth, and the life growing up in God. The holiness implanted and nourished is sure to shine forth in its proper form of glory when the obstructions are removed. Whereas, among the unregenerate, where there is no holiness, there is nothing to shine forth. When the glory of God falls upon the naked flesh and the unclean spirit the corruptible things are consumed and perish for ever. It is our business, our privilege to take care that the work advances even now. Beholding, as in a glass the glory of the Lord; we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."
Observer, Sept. 1, '71.
THE CHURCH IN THE DIOCESE OF CHESTER.
THE boundaries of the diocese of Chester are much more limited than they were some time ago. It was created by Henry VIII. out of a portion of the dioceses of Lichfield, Coventry, and York. It then included the whole of the counties of Chester and Lancaster, and also part of Yorkshire, Cumberland, Flintshire, and Denbighshire. The Yorkshire portion was transferred, in 1836, to the new diocese of Ripon. In 1847, when the new diocese of Manchester was created, it was further reduced, and in 1849 it experienced another reduction. It is now nearly conterminous with the county of Chester, but includes a portion of Lancashire. population in 1861 was 1,248,416; its benefices are 383; its curates 228; and its church sittings 295,705.
The first inquiry as to the condition of the Establishment in this diocese naturally relates to the provision which, on the whole, is made for the spiritual wants of the population. There should be accommodation for public worship for fifty-seven per cent. of the people; or, in 1861, for about 701,588 persons. The Establishment, however, furnished, in 1870, according to the Chester Diocesan Calender, accommodation for 295,705 persons, or only twenty-eight per cent. of the population as it was ten years ago; or about two-fifths of the whole number who may now be expected to require accommodation. The first fact, therefore, which we find is, that more than half of the population must be left to be attended to by the Free Churches. We are without information as to the sittings provided in the several parishes of the diocese; but if we were possessed of it, we should no doubt find that a great deal of the accommodation that is afforded is either not practically available or is not used. There would be, as there are in other dioceses, large buildings half, or more than half, empty, among small populations, while Methodist and other places of worship are crowded; while in the towns we should find that the Church ministers but to a small fraction of the people. If the total accommodation is not 300,000, for four times the population, the total number of worshippers would be far less than the accommodation. The professed adherents of the Church in the diocese of Chester are probably not more than 200,000 in number, or one-sixth of the total population.
The distribution of the revenues in this diocese is marked by that gross inequality that is everywhere characteristic of Established Church finance. The Bishop is paid less than many other bishops, his revenue amounting to £4,500; while other bishops, doing no more duty, receive considerably larger amounts. The gross yearly income of the see, when the Ecclesiastical Revenue Commissioners made their report in 1831, was stated to be £3,951, but it was raised by the Church Reform Act to its present sum. At the same time, the revenues of the Dean and Chapter were reported at £2,135-a very small sum for a Dean and Chapter. In answering inquiries upon this point, both the Bishop and the Dean and Chapter stated that a considerable diminution in revenue in future years was expected from a depreciation of the value of tithes. Why tithes were expected to decrease no one can tell, for their nature is to increase; and as a matter of fact, this expectation turned out to be fallacious, for in 1852, the Cathedral Commissioners reported that the revenues of the Dean and Chapter had not only not decreased, but that they had more than doubled; the amount being at that time £5,522. Scarcely any property, in fact, has increased in value of late years more rapidly than ecclesiastical property, and it is increasing every year.
Observer, Sept. 1, "71.
We have stated the number of benefices at 383. Their total annual value, as reckoned from the Diocesan Calender, is £128,338, or an average of £335 per benefice. Fifty-three of these benefices are worth £49,212 per annum; one-seventh in number of the benefices, that is to say, receive about one-third of the total income. We give their names and values as follows:
Although these are official returns, it is more than probable that many of the values are understated. This is notoriously the case with Wigan, the value of which is known to be more than double the amount stated in the Calender.
If we compare the values and the populations of the benefices, we get some insight into Established Church abuses. We find, for instance, that the incumbent of Ashton-in-Mersey receives £960 for attending to 689 persons, men, women, and children; that the incumbent of Astbury receives £1,636 to attend to a population of 1,442; that the value of Barthomley living is £804, while the population is only 679; that the living of Halsall is worth £3,500, while the population is only 1,950; that the living of Sephton is worth £1,824, while the population is only 1,087; and Woodchurch £1,109, while the population is only 977. Talk of the Irish Church! Why, there are abuses in the diocese of Chester as monstrous as any that characterised that unhappy institution.
The abuses are not confined to the large livings, but extend to the small ones. While some village clergymen receive their thousands, other clergymen, for ministering to larger populations, receive the barest and most miserable pittances. The incumbent of Aston receives £93 for attending to nearly the same population (616) for which the incumbent of Ashtonin-Mersey receives £960, or ten times that of his unfortunate clerical brother. The incumbent of Barnton is paid £119 for attending to 1,616 persons, while he of Astbury receives £1,636 for attending to a population
Observer, Sept. 1, 71
nearly 200 fewer in number. At Castle Hall the Rev. T. Floyd is stated to receive only £140 for ministering to 7,612 persons, and the Rev. W. Whitlegge, of Widnes, £150 for a population of 19,000. There are 126 benefices in the diocese nearly one-third of the whole number-the revenues of which are less than £200 each. And all the while there are the other benefices in which no more work is done, and perhaps generally less, endowed with a shameful superfluity.
This diocese, like other dioceses, presents some curious illustrations of Church patronage. It is astonishing to notice the remarkable similarity between the names of some of the incumbents and the names of some of the patrons. Thus:
It is still further singular that these family, or self-presented, livings should, as will be seen by looking at the list above, be the best livings in the diocese. The best of all, as we have noticed, is Wigan, the incumbent of which is the Hon. and Rev. G. T. O. Bridgeman, and the patron the Earl of Bradford. Singular to say, the Earl of Bradford's family name is exactly the same as that of the incumbent of Wigan.
These are some of the principal external facts connected with the diocese. Is it not time that the people should be informed of them? Is it not time that they should know what sort of an Establishment, in this respect, they are supporting? Do they approve of such a distribution of the public money? Liberator.
FELLOWSHIP AND THE FELLOWSHIP.-No. V.
WE have already made apparent that in Acts ii. (where the fellowship is first mentioned) no proof is found of intention on the part of the Holy Spirit to present a catalogue of observances to be attended to by the church on the "first of the week," when it assembles for worship. We have also made clear, that though Acts ii., 42, does inform us of certain things to which the first church steadfastly attended, we are not therein given to know that they were attended to with equal frequency. So far, then, we have found no law binding the church to attend to the fellowship as often as it assembles to break the bread, and at no other time,-we have found nothing binding us so to couple these two observances that the one is not properly observed in the absence of the other.
But, is there not in Acts ii. the same evidence of weekly fellowship as of breaking the bread every first of the week? There is in that chapter no evidence of either. From Acts ii. we learn nothing as to the frequency of
Observer, Sept. 1, '71.
the observance; whether daily, weekly, or monthly, is neither stated nor implied. We hold that the bread was broken on the first of every week, but we learn that fact, not from that chapter, but from other testimony. May we not, then, in the same way ascertain that the fellowship was ordained for weekly observance? That, of course, is the very question our examination is intended to answer. In the affirmative, one writer says:
"That the apostles did give orders to the congregations in Galatia and Corinth to make a weekly contribution for the poor saints is a matter that cannot be disputed, see 1 Cor. xvi., 1. That the christian congregations did, then, keep a treasury for those contribution, is, I conceive, evident from the original of 1 Cor. xvi., 1, which Macknight correctly renders in the following words: 'On the first day of every week let each of you lay somewhat by itself, according as he may have prospered, putting it into the treasury, that when I come there may be no collections.""
Now, we desire to get out of the text, cited in the foregoing quotation, every bit of information it contains, but we have no wish to force it to teach what it does not contain. We cannot accept the rendering of Macknight. "Putting it into the treasury" is not translation but paraphrase, based upon an inference which he expresses, thus: "The apostle means the treasury of the church, or some chest placed at the door of the church to receive their gifts. For although the Corinthians had separated a sum weekly for the saints, yet if they kept it in their own possession the collections must still have been to make when the apostle came, contrary to his intentions." It is, then, evidently, this supposed difficulty as to the collections that constrained Macknight to give as translation what the original does not say. That this point may stand on pretty good authority we cite the following translations:
"On each first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, according as he is prospered, that there may be no collections when I come.-"American Bible Union. "On the first day of the week let each of you lay up by himself, treasuring up whatever he may have been prospered in; that gatherings may not take place at that time when I come." Dr. Giles.
"Upon the first day of the week let each of you lay by him in store, whatsoever he be prospered in, that there be no collections when I come.' Dean Alford.
It is, then, our business to ascertain not what may, perhaps, have been in the mind of the apostle, but what is said or certainly implied. Nothing else must we hold as binding upon the Churches of God.
In the first place, then, the text does not contain the word fellowship. "The fellowship" is not named in the chapter. We have seen that the fellowship requires a fund for each church, and not a general fund for all churches. The poor saints in Judea, for whom Paul requested this laying up, on the part of the Corinthians and other christians, had no claim upon the funds of the church in Corinth, nor upon the treasury of any other church, save that of the church of their own locality.
Had the church of Corinth attended to the fellowship before receiving this letter? Having been planted by an apostle and watered by inspired men and some years having elapsed, there can be no doubt but that it had steadfastly attended to the apostle's doctrine, the fellowship, the breaking of bread, and the prayers, long before the time of this appeal. What then did Paul intend as to this special provision for distant brethren? Did he desire a special laying up for them, apart from the ordinary contributions of the church, or was he urging an increase in the ordinary weekly contribution already existing, that the treasury might possess ample funds at his coming, when the church, by its deacons or otherwise, might vote an abundant donation for the distressed of