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it, she is to be bound and cast into the furnace, we do trust in God that the embers of her ashes, scattered to the four winds of heaven, will, as in the case of the first British martyr and reformer, be kindled anew, and burst into a holy flame, if even in other climes and unborn ages. But, for the men who live in these times and in this nation, it behoves every one of us who hath any regard for his native land, to come forward for the preservation of our altars and our homes,—to secure to future generations of Englishmen a continuation of those blessings which are involved in the service, discipline, and ordinance of our Church. The Bishop of London hath called upon us to follow the example of Glasgow and Manchester, where, as he informs us, they have already raised large sums for church accommodation. And if it hath been found a matter of pressing necessity in these towns, how much more so must it be in the metropolis of Great Britain, upon whose moral and religious conduct the prosperity of the country, yea the interests of the empire, foreign and domestic, indissolubly hinge!
From the very large subscription already raised,—we will not say munificent, for we recollect that more than treble the amount was contributed in a few days by the friends of Charles I. to serve secular exigencies ;* and we could point out individuals in the list, to whose names and titles we ought to look for hundreds in lieu of tens, and where we find hundreds, thousands should have been affixed. But from the state of the subscription it would seem that the building of new churches is no longer the difficulty. That, happily, is put past a doubt. Still what remains to be accomplished is no ordinary task; it is a nice matter, and moreover of weighty import. Our readers will see that we refer to the mode of endowing these new buildings, after they shall have been erected and consecrated to the worship of God. That the ministers should be utterly independent of their congregation, seems to us, and we believe is generally felt, to be a sine qua non.
The Bishop of London in his Proposals observes :
“ I have reason to expect that considerable means will be afforded to me, for the endowment of additional churches, from the property belonging to the prebendal stalls in St. Paul's Cathedral, the suppression of which, as they shall become vacant, has been recommended by the Church Commissioners; and to some portion of the property of which I may fairly assert a claim, in behalf of those parts of my diocese which are in a state of spiritual destitution.”
We shall not pause in this place, although we find it hard to
* " The king, disappointed of parliamentary subsidies, borrowed money of his ministers and courtiers; and so much was he beloved amongst them, that above three hundred thousand pounds were subscribed in a few days.”—Hume's Hist. Eng.
put a bridle on our hearts, to give our opinion of the worldly policy of this recommendation of the Church Commissioners. That we hold an opinion upon the point, we must confess, and a very strong one; nor is it any cowardice or time-serving that restrains our pen.
We may yet have occasion to speak out ; and shall only observe in this place, that the suppression of these prebendal stalls of St. Paul's Cathedral, which have hitherto been considered as the prizes and rewards of the clergy—the acknowledgment of talent, erudition, genius, and piety,—will occasion a fatal revolution in the economy of the episcopal establishment, will throw all authority into the hands of the high dignitaries, and in an awful degree increase the distance, already too great, between them and (of course we mean no offence by the term) the operatives of the Church.
The balance of power will be no longer rightly adjusted; and at the same time that they remain exposed to the ignorant slanders of a lay populace, the Bishops will find themselves invested with tyrannic sway over the proceedings and conduct of the working Clergy. But if these stalls are indeed to be suppressed, it is another consideration, a second act of the drama, to determine how the proceeds are to be applied. We need not remind our readers that the greatest tact and discrimination will be requisite in those individuals, to whose lot it may fall to say how the surplus should be appropriated. If it be hardly reconcilable with prudence, in the first instance, to disturb the sacred emoluments accruing from these sources, it must be an infinitely more dangerous business to have any thing to do with their application. At all events, in such a case we should be sorry to be responsible. We should be loth to have it left to our discretion to filch from the Church, with the object, or in the chance, of withholding certain of the spoils from the grasp of avarice, and endowing, with the same, other churches. It would be too nice a matter for our humble judgment, and we are therefore glad that it is placed in other hands; even in those where duty and responsibility go together. And if there be wrong in this strange and suspicious transfer of ecclesiastical funds, for that wrong are they answerable at the bar of posterity and of Heaven. But if, contrariwise, they have only resolved on this after mature consideration, not biassed or drawn aside from their duty by the opinions of others, however great the abilities, high the rank, mighty the power, or vast the influence of such advisers may be; if they can reconcile this act to their consciences, as befitting the country, and furthering the object for which the Establishment was instituted, and which she most has at art,—then we hold, that no better application of such funds can be devised than the endowment of new churches. If, however, it be not too late, let us recommend a cautious treading in this matter. A provision, which from time immemorial hath appertained to the Clergy, is, it seems, after the
irreverent fashion of the day, now that the country can scarcely breathe for opulence, to be perverted to lay uses. We must speak our mind, and own, that had we been in authority, we should have left alone funds acquired by any such " indirection.” We should have had misgivings, thát, like Judas, we were accepting silver pence as the price of treason; and might call to mind the words of the prophet, “ The prey of savage beasts becometh dreadful unto themselves.” Habak. xi. 17.
The Bishop of London, after notifying that his “ Proposals " are by no means intended to supersede the claim which the Church of England has upon the Government for maintenance, and the people of England for opportunities of public worship,that these claims of the Church (lay and clergy) he is far from foregoing,---suggests a plan to the Legislature, which has, it appears, in former days succeeded upon trial. He recommends the putting a duty of two-pence per ton upon coals, which he is of opinion would scarcely be felt by the consumer, and would produce more than 18,0001. per annum. “ It would,” observes his Lordship, “hardly deserve the name of a burthen.”
We must even admit that, at the first blush, this would seem an unexceptionable mode (and peculiarly appropriate) of raising a fund for the endowment of new metropolitan churches ; nevertheless, we are sure that his Lordship will excuse us, since we have at heart the same holy and charitable principle, and are as sanguine in the cause, as himself, if we humbly submit, by way of amendment, a different mode of effectuating this object.
And, first, we would premise, that, however small the contemplated tax upon coals may appear, we entertain very strong doubts whether the poor, unto whom it hath been the glory of our Church for centuries to preach and administer her ordinances “ without money and without price," should be subjected to an increased charge upon an article, which already (owing to the high profits of the huckster of whom they purchase) costs them much more in proportion than it does the wealthy classes. It is, in truth, in the winter season, a large item in their expenditure; they cannot exist without it; and although the increase of price in every individual instance must be so trifling that it would require some fine-drawn result of algebraic fractions to say what, yet we conceive the principle of taxing the poor at all, for such an object, to be, to say the least, questionable; and we cannot but apprehend that the effect on the public mind would be most injurious to the interests of that Establishment, which it is the very design of the contemplated tax to uphold.
The character of the national Church, and the sum to be gained by so obnoxious a mode of revenue, are quantities incommensurable.
With all sincere respect for his Lordship, we would suggest, that, should the case require it, a small duty be laid upon some unnecessary commodity ; ex.gr. upon spirits, the consumption of which amongst the lower orders is frightful to think upon. The health and strength of the metropolis, and indeed of all the larger towns, their very bodies and souls, are so prostrated before the accursed demon of gin, that, in case of another war, the country will look in vain amongst such a race, or their offspring, for men to fight her battles. By making this “hellbroth from the infernal Styx” pay contribution to the revenue, a much larger sum would be gained than by any other fiscal operation.
But to obviate the danger of smuggling, which might arise from laying a duty upon this poisonous compound, we would recommend a tax in the shape of a license, so large as to amount almost to a prohibition upon the very existence of these heartsickening palaces, which, not less than the gambling-houses, deserve to be removed as moral eyesores to the metropolis.
For some such measure morality and religion call aloud, with an emphasis that cannot be misunderstood, and which should not be disobeyed. The safety of the empire demands some prompt intervention whilst yet a chance remains for arresting the evil. Yet a little while, and it will have become so inveterate, as to infer the destruction of the commonweal. But we find that the thoughts of these horrors have drawn us aside from the point which we were anxious to establish.
To return to the best mode of raising an endowment for the new metropolitan churches.
In preference to any description of legislative taxation,—which, were it ever so small, in these days of frailty, affliction, and mistaken economy, would be exclaimed against for such an object,-we would recommend having recourse to such an appeal from persons in high places as should find an echo in every parish throughout his Majesty's dominions, when they are made to feel and understand their absolute dependence upon the spiritual state of the metropolis; an appeal that would awake the dormant pulse, and inspire the heart of apathy itself. Such an invocation to their duty, coming from persons speaking as with authority, might perchance arouse our countrymen, now buried in the depths of supineness. The members of the Government should be urged to call to mind the impression they left upon that holy volume, whereby they registered an oath in heaven to uphold to the utmost of their power the Church Establishment. This, they ought to be instructed, was no outward form, but a binding pledge necessarily demanding a fulfilment. The solemn proclamation which we suggest to our episcopal bench, should inform the leading men of the Administration that they ought to relieve the grievances of the Church, ere they bait their hook, for the suffrages of those without her pale, with the spoliation of her millenary heritage.
This would be the agitation that we would set a-going, until the constituency of the country were aroused to a sense of their duty, and prevailed upon their representatives to uphold the Establishment.
If a proper tone and spirit were adopted, such a call upon the empire, from such a source, and so supported, would break in upon the lethargy and lukewarmness of our nobles. They would feel it no less their interest than duty, to hold fast rights which are sought to be infringed by those who have, in fact, only a care unto themselves; rights, on the strict preservation of which depend the safety, honour, and welfare of our Sovereign and his dominions. An oration of a learned and noble statesman, one of the most eminent of modern times, should be rung in their ears, until certain recreant noblemen tremble like Felix on his throne. A certain Noble Marquis should be made to understand, that the best plan he could pursue to reform the Church were to do his utmost to increase her means, to extend her influence, to enlarge her borders ; and thereby enable her to arrive at and secure the affections of that portion of the people who have been kept in the dark as to her deserts, or sedulously taught to undervalue her, and who have hitherto had no opportunities of being disabused. He should be urged, as though he were under a legal as he is under a moral bond, to build, amongst the inhabitants whom his thousands of roofs shelter, at least one church, wherein unshackled to his tenantry the gospel of Jesus Christ may be proclaimed. Indeed, he should be told by some friendly voice, that all his wealth is nothing but an intimation of God's wish for him to beg a blessing for himself, by putting a tithe upon his rent-roll, and handing over the proceeds, in the face of Heaven and earth, for the noble cause we advocate.
And in respect to another pillar of the State, his Grace should be bid to look back upon the rock from whence his gold was hewn, and apprised that the Church looks up to him especially for large supplies, in this time of her need and contemplated extension. The appeal to which we have all along referred should find its way into "the ceiled houses” of our opulent citizens, and awake their torpid spirit, by representing in startling contrast their cheerful hearths and splendid edifices, their tables groaning with luxury, and their walls with decorations, and the poor state of their Lord and Creator, who hath not, in certain districts of the most wealthy city in the world, the sorry accommodation of a manger. Whould not their compassion, as they look around, be excited even unto tears, to think that the Lord's house is lying waste?
Amid the burnings and the smoke of mines and factories, the great truth should be inculcated and spread, that the best machinery that can be employed to secure prosperity to a nation