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Observer, April 1, '72.
to have taken a new departure in thought and feeling, and to find little which responds to their aims and their principles in the Church of England.”
The Bishop of Manchester is as candid as the Times on the subject. In a sermon preached at Eccles, the Bishop says,
“It could not be said that these common people sought Christ for any material advantages, they sought Him from higher motives, 'to have the Gospel preached to them.' In comparing those days and the present, they could not but be forcibly struck with the contrary. Then the common people heard the Gospel gladly, but now the churches were filled chiefly by the upper and middle classes. The Church of England was especially a Church of rich people, and partly because it was so, it was not a missionary Church, and did not reach to the extent it should do the common people. Another reason of this was the nou-elasticity of its ritual. When in the United States of America, he had been among the friends of their sister Church-the Episcopal Church of America ; he had noticed there how little the Church had reached the common people, and when one of that Church had asked him what he thought of them ? his answer was, 'I am almost frightened at your respectability, because there are no poor, or very few poor, among you. A fact like that should be looked at both in England and America to know what to do with it. It was a fact that must some day be looked in the face, and it was a very ugly fact in the condition of the Church at the present day. It was a sad fact in their Church history, that after ages of effort it should be found that those who most needed the aid and influence of the Church were those who seldom entered it."
“ The churches are filled chiefly by the upper and middle classes." Then, for what is the Establishment kept up?
CONVOCATION. Convocation, having received, for the first time for nearly two hundred years, a “Letter of Business,” is chuckling over the matter like a decayed old hen who has just laid her first egg. For several days it has been debating the subjects which it is not allowed, with a view to practical action, to discuss. Amongst these are shorter services, and more liberty in the use of the Prayer-book, and the Athanasian Creed, and it will probably agree in some recommendation respecting the former subject; so that what used to be deemed the great advantage of the Church service will, in future, not characterise that service, and the argument will be put the other way. As to the Athanasian Creed, Convocation appears to be divided into five parties. One would retain the Creed as it is; another would use it with a new rubric, so as to explain away its meaning, saying that it doesn't mean what it does; a third would keep it in the Prayer-book, but not allow it to be publicly read; a fourth would alter it so as to leave out the damnatory clauses; and a fifth would leave it out altogether. Seeing how things were going, it is not surprising to find the Archbishop of Canterbury saying, “I should be very sorry if an impression went abroad that the Church of England is divided at this time, in a way that it has not been before." But the impression being correct, why should it not get abroad? Sorrow should come for the fact, not for the impression. Division was never so characteristic of this Uniformity Church as it is now; but, as Bishop McDougall said, " he had been a missionary for many years, and if he had had the choking collar of the Act of Uniformity about his neck, he could have done nothing. That Act would kill all missionary operation in the Church abroad." Well, it has certainly killed pretty nearly all missionary operation in the Church at home.
Observer, April 1,72.
A NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH IN 1872. I I HAVE read with very mingled feelings " A brief account of the origin progress and practice of the Central Christian Church of Cincinnati, Ohio,” published, it would seem for public circulation. It will no doubt interest the readers of the E. O. to be presented with a few extracts from the account of the position and practices of one of the largest and most flourishing congregations in America, numbering, about five hundred members.
1. The Meeting House, which appears to be a really splendid building, was erected about two years ago, at the cost of about one hundred and forty thousand dollars, and consists of an "auditorium" capable of seating over two thousand persons. Lecture Room capable of seating seven hundred persons, a library and Bible-class room, "society parlours,” kitchen,
” pantries, etc. “ The Church (?) is designed in the modern French gothic, of imposing grandeur, faultless proportions and most exquisite detail,” it also boasts “ the largest window in America,” and “all the windows throughout the entire structure are filled with enriched stained cathedral glass.' “ The pulpit platform is 12}ft. by 30ft. and adjoining is the pastor's study and library." “ The choir and the organ are located in the gallery directly back of the pulpit.” The arrangements for heating and ventilating the building are very complete.
2. “Concerning organization and government.” “ The oversight of the church is committed to a board of elders or bishops
the pastor of the church is a member of this board,” then there are deacons and deaconesses. These officers meet once a month for conference.
3. “ Concerning finances,” “The manner of raising money is as follows: At a meeting of the deacons previous to the annual meeting of the whole church, they estimate the probable expenses of the church for the year. This estimate is passed upon by the congregation at its annual meeting and then the deacons make out what they believe an equitable assessment and send each member a statement of his or her proportion. Any person may appear before a subsequent meeting of the deacons and show reasons why his assessment is not enough, or too much,” beyond this, “any one may contribute to the finances by applying to any of the deacons, or he may place the sum he wishes to give, and his name, if he choose, in an envelope and drop it in the baskets at the time the public collection is taken up; or, he may contribute through the public collection in the
This public collection is taken up at the morning and evening service."
4. Concerning the pews. “All the pews of the church are free. But in order to accommodate those who may prefer to have a regular place to sit, it is arranged that all such persons may apply to the deacons designating the particular pew desired, and this preference will be respected, if the deacons find it possible to do so, until the time to begin service.”
5. "The public worship.” “ The church meets on the first day of the week for prayer, praise, teaching, exhortation, observance of the Lord's Supper, &c. The Lord's Supper is observed at the conclusion of the sermon, on every Lord's day morning. As this ordinance is intended for Christians only, immediately after the public collection is taken up, an opportunity is given to strangers to retire, all however are cordially invited to remain. No obstacle is placed in the way of any of the disciples of Jesus who may desire to partake of the Lord's Supper, or to share in any of the privileges of the public worship."
Observer, April 1,972.
Beyond the quotations made there are brief statements on the following subjects--" Concerning Faith ;” “Conditions of membership;” “Concerning Baptism ;" “How to become a Member of the Church ;" “ Prayer and Social Meetings;” “Woman's Work;” “Sunday Schools;" concluding with some weighty remarks on “ The Mission of the Church," from which I quote the following—"The great work of the Church is to contribute, as its members may have opportunity, to the conversion of the world, to the union of the people of God, and to the up-building of all in Faith, Hope and Love." In order to this it is believed that we must first accept Christ Jesus as our all. We must understand that “ without His light and love we perish for ever; His divinity must be our foundation; His life our example; His death our salvation; His resurrection our hope ; His intercession our fountain of grace and mercy; His teachings our guide; His Church our school; His Spirit our Comforter ; His gospel our reliance for the conversion of sinners ; His commandments our life ; His promises our rejoicing.” Hence in an age like this, when there is so much unrest among the professed followers of Jesus, it is esteemed a special duty to call men away from the divisions of partyism to Christ as the only Saviour, from the confusions of the Apostacy, to the order and harmony of the primitive church ; from human creeds and philosophies, to the Bible; from denominational names and interests, to the symmetry and perfection of the body of Christ.
This church dates from 1828, and can number among its eldership such names as J. Challen, J. Vardeman, D. S. Burnet, Walter Scott, Owen, Owens, C. L. Loos, Thos. Munnell, J. Shackleford and others. I will not venture to criticise the work of such eminent labourers in the Lord's vineyard, yet much of what I have quoted seems strange as compared with our position and practice, on this side the Atlantic; and equally so when looked at alongside the church as at the first. Had I, as a stranger in Cin. cinnati, dropped into the splendid edifice above described, without previous knowledge, I am sure I should not have known my brethren, not so much from the grandeur of their surroundings, as from their order and practices.
I could ask many questions but I forbear; the reader can hardly, however, fail to remark an apologetic air, and a wish to tone down the unpleasant features, in the narrative, which leads us to hope that they have not gained the hearty and unreserved approval of the brethren.
May they fulfil more and more the beautiful ideal of the church as given in the closing quotation, and study to conform themselves in practice as in doctrines to the symmetry and perfection of the body of Christ."
We do not wonder that the writer of the above read the account from which he quotes with “mingled feelings." This central Cincinnati church seems reformed out of all reformation. It may, however, serve as a caution and indicate what is going on among certain of the churches in America.
You have a costly edifice of "imposing grandeur." We can have no objection to a good commodious building, with every proper convenience; but imposing grandeur hardly agrees with the simplicity of Christianity, and can only be intended to pander to the world. Then, too, it must be called a Church. What an “old fogey” the pastor of this modern French Gothic Church must consider A. Campbell to have been! Then there is choir and organ; whether as yet they perform the praise, to the delight of the listening congregation, is not told: perhaps they are not quite ready
Observer, April 1, '72.
to take the entire charge of that department of service. Then the pastor is a member of the Board of Elders or Bishops. Now elders we know, and bishops (overseers) we know, but the pastor, as distinct from the elders or overseers,
who, or what, is he? He is a creature of the apostacy, and had better go to his own place, which may be in a modern French Gothic Church, but certainly is not in a church of primitive faith and order. The financial scheme is a considerable piece of assumption. Only think of a committee assessing the church in Corinth after the fashion here set forth! But Paul was not up to the modern move. Poor fellow, he would not be of over much use in these days! Then the public collections are duly cared for. The sheep and the goats are carefully milked. Of course the grandeur of the place renders that needful. But as all men may pay so all may partake of the Lord's supper, which is put in at the end of a sermon.
Now if the above may be taken as an acceptable sample of returning to the apostolic order, it is highly desirable that, in this country, we so understand it. We may safely tell our brethren in America, that if that only is the thing required we need not remain in our present restricted position. We can guarantee large churches in all our large towns, in a very short time. We have, however, not so learned Christianity, and are not prepared to recognise it in any such garb.
ON THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS.
“I am strong in the strength of an ancient cause,
Sanctioned by old majestic laws,
Observer, April 1, 172.
Trample, and harry, and scorch with your breath,
Courage ! my brave ones, strong in the fight