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frightful strides; that among the classes of labourers, domestic servants, and shop-clerks, dishonesty prevails to such an extent that there is no security to be obtained against it ; and that, from the unprotected numbers: of the female sex, the most deplorable corruption has long since banished every principle of purity, and the natural sense of honour.”
• That crime unhappily has increased among us, is a fact that none will deny; but the question is, by whom it is encouraged ?—by the members and ministers of a church who dedicate their time, their attention, their means and influence, to suppress vice and foment piety; or by those who aim to alienate the public mind from that system of religion which has become hateful to them from being established and identified with the state? The true cause of the increase of crime is accounted for from the vast increase of our population; and we all know that in large masses of the people vice has the facility of walking protected and unseen; but I will, without fear of contradiction, affirm that crime, extensive and general as it is, is not greater, nor so great, in proportion to our present population, as it was some twenty years since. But were it otherwise--were it greater. than it really is, could it with any pretence of reason or justice be taxed upon our body or establishment? Rather let this writer, and all others of the same class, consider, not what is the state of crime under the restraints which our religion imposes on society, but what it would be without them. Before they can prove all our machinery of religion detrimental to the moral conduct of the community, it is incumbent upon thein to show what would be the quantum of morality divested of its power and influence.'
We pass by, as unworthy of notice, all that this meek and learned doctor has said about a vitiated mind and corrupt judgment,' and misrepresentations palpably wilful.'. These uncouth phrases are the splenetic retaliation of baffled imposture; and may be easily forgiven, proceeding as they do from the pulpit of a church tottering rapidly towards its fall. We may, however, ask where the wilful misrepresentation really lies ? Let the reader look at our words. Do we, as the preacher asserts, charge upon the church, and upon the clergy, the increase of crime? No such thing. We have said that “crime, instead of being diminished by all this machinery of religion (by which we meant the system of the national religion) is increasing, from year to year, with frightful strides." It is assuredly one thing to say that a man has contributed to the perpetration of crime, and another to say that he has not prevented it. We have only asserted that the church, with all its agents, has not arrested the progress of crime, and the context plainly shews that we imputed this to the imperfection of its machinery, to its imbecility, in fact, and not to any other cause. We could not have been so absurd as to suppose for a moment, that the church. would take robbers, and murderers, and prostitutes under its protection, and encourage them in their infamous career. We have made no such supposition, nor any thing at all like it. The whole drift of our argument was to show that the Church of England, as a corrector of the human passions, for which we presume all churches are intended, has decidedly failed: that it has not mate
rially checked those passions, because crime is constantly on the increase ; and that the church ceased therefore to be worth the enormous expenditure which it absorbed.
We know quite as well as Dr. Wilkins, that wherever there is a large population, there vices of every description will prevail ;. and that, as that population is multiplied, those vices will be multiplied in a certain proportion. But what we contended for is this: 'that the great mass of the people of this country are not sufficiently, nor indeed at all instructed in the precepts of religion ; that the national church was not, and from its cold and aristocratical constitution, never will be, in close contact with the people; and that as a check upon crime it is perfectly useless. This we have said, and no more ; and this we take leave now to repeat.
In answer to our remarks upon the very general ignorance of the lower orders of the people with respect to the degrees of guilt, the distinctions between different transgressions, and the conditions of repentance, the preacher observes ;-'That wicked, profligate, and impious persons exist in great numbers, is another fact that cannot be questioned. That they are ignorant, and that they are impious, is not owing to any want of moral instruction, but to the abuse of that freedom, which they think fit to exercise, in avoiding all places of public worship and of religious instruction. Thus, it will be seen, Dr. Wilkins admits the truth of the fact, but he
that the reason of it is that the people do not go to church. This is precisely our own view of the case. The exertions of the established clergy, so far as the great mass of the people is concerned, are confined exclusively to the pulpit. They do not visit the people at their houses; they do not receive the people at other hours than those fixed for the service; there is, in fact, no intercourse between the pastor and his flock, except that which passes in the church on the Sunday: and the sermons which are then preached, with some few occasional exceptions, and the liturgy which is then read, being both, perhaps, as dull and lifeless a combination of words as ever fell from human lips, the natural result is, that the people get tired of them, and stay at home, or go to the conventicles. Upon this point Dr. Wilkins and we are exactly agreed.
But, he adds, with great triumph, look at our charity schools ! Schools for the education of the poor are every where to be found, and the clergy are every where sedulously employed, supporting these institutions by their authority; and are now teaching in them, with a laudable and zealous diligence, no less than 710,000 children of the poor.' Without questioning the calculation by which Dr. Wilkins has made out this number, we may admit as a fact, that á considerable number of schools exist in different parts of England and Wales. But are we indebted for them to the church ? Has, the church given up one acre of its glebe lands, or a quarter's income from its tithes, or other endowments, to the support of these
establishments? Do we not owe them, in every instance, without exception, to the benevolence of private individuals, to the chariki table dispositions which pervade the middling classes of the country? Do the clergy, indeed, sedulously teach in those schools ? Not. they. The pastor of the parish or the district seldom goes near them, except when some public display takes place, the anniversary meeting, or some occasion when fine speeches are to be made before a well dressed assembly of ladies and gentlemen. Is the clergyman ever seen catechising the children and instructing them in the precepts of religion, preparing them for confirmation, and advising them as to the duties which they are afterwards to fulfil in society? Not they. A cold discourse, duly prepared, the mere use of his name as patron, or vice-president, make up, generally speaking, the whole of what Dr. Wilkins is pleased to call the sedulous employment of the clergy with respect to these institutions. The facť is notorious, and one proof of it is, that juvenile offenders and juvenile prostitutes, are more upon the increase than any other nuisance by which our community is afflicted.
The preacher refers also to the number of religious tracts which the clergy disseminate. Tracts! The Apostles were desired by their divine Master to go and teach all nations, not to circulate tracts amongst them. Who has ever known any instances of criminals having been persuaded to repentance by tracts ? They are literally trash, so far as religion is concerned. They are, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, used as waste paper; in the hundredth they are perhaps cursorily read, but never inwardly digested. A tract-distributing clergy certainly never was contemplated by St. Paul, when he said, “ Faith cometh by hearing,”—and “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another.” The preacher proceeds
• The next point of attack is made upon what is called our nous liturgy, and premeditated discourses," which the writer represents as “ imposing an outward decorum without ever reaching the heart;" that it is all a mere " affair of state ;" that, in short, “ as far as religion is concerned, the Church of England is a striking failure.” And then it is asked, “ Where are their catechisms--where their attractive books of piety, which come home to the bosoms of families in their domestic retirement? They have none--not even an authorised form of morning and night prayer: so necessary for all classes, in order to enable them to express the gratitude which they owe to their Creator, and to implore his assistance! The only one book recommended on all occasions is the Bible, many parts of which are unfit to be exposed to innocent eyes.”
.” No observations of mine can be required to show the utter falsehood of these bold assertions; nor would it
uncharitable to infer from them, that the deistical writer of them has little more respect for the Bible than he evinces for our establishment; and, indeed, we may generally observe that they who are most hostile to our church have rarely any skill to conceal the enmity they bear to that religion which it upholds, or to disguise their aversion to the restraints which the doctrine of a divine and crucified Saviour imposes.'
What! are all these assertions of our's false? Is the church liturgy then not monotonous ? The Rev. Robert Cox, perpetual curate of Stonehouse, North Devon, in speaking of this liturgy, says that it is “too long both in a moral and physical point of view,—too long for keeping up a proper degree of attention and spiritual feeling even in the healthy and devout, and much more so for the volatile
spirits of the young, and the weakened faculties of the infirm."*
Monotonous ! Why Mr. Cox applies to its endless repetitions the still stronger epithet of “ wearisome.”+ Does that liturgy ever reach the heart ? If it did, how could it be considered so very long and wearisome? The late Henry Martin, indeed, bears witness that the liturgy did touch--the breast, for he says, “My services on the Lord’s-day leave me always with a pain in the breast, and such a great degree of general relaxation, that I seldom recover it till Tuesday !” Is not the church too, as we have said, “ a mere affair of state ?" And is it not moreover, as far as religion is concerned, a striking failure ?” We answer these questions in the affirmative, and our affirmation is quite as good as that of Dr. Wilkins; for he has only asserted, but not proved, the contrary. We know that the church has a catechism, but we also know that it is not generally taught to the people ; we know that it has a book of common prayer, but no attractive books of piety; that it has an authorized form of “morning and evening prayer,” which is read once a week by the minister aud congregation in the churches, but we did not allude to that; we meant to say that there was no thorized form of morning and night prayer,” to be used by families and individuals every morning and night, in their own houses, and by their own bedsides, expressive of their gratitude to the Deity who watches over them. And is not the Bible the only one book constantly recommended by the clergy to the people ! If not, why are so many Bibles distributed ? Why are so many Bible Societies patronized by the bishops and clergy?
Dr. Wilkins thinks he has obtained a triumph, by calling us deistical writers. If the charge were true, the triumph after all would be but a very poor one. Nothing can be more contemptible than the angry application of harsh names, without a shadow of argument to justify them. We shall merely say that we are not, and never have been deists; that we believe in the doctrine of the Trinity perhaps more sincerely than Dr. Wilkins; that we venerate the Bible quite as much as he does, though we entertain not the smallest respect for the church establishment; and that we are perhaps more thoroughly acquainted than he is, both in the letter and the practice, with the restraints which the doctrine of a divine and crucified Saviour imposes. It is, in truth, because we plainly see that those restraints are unknown to the Church of England, in a
practical sense, that we are opposed to the continuance of the establishment.
We now approach the close of this angry discourse.
• The last position of this writer which I shall notice is thus laid down by: himself:-" The fundamental error in the constitution of the church of England is the want of a constant and active relation between its clergy and people. We know many of the former to be most accomplished scholars and most excellent men ; but of all of them it may be said, that when once the gown is taken off, they have no thought about their flocks until it is put on again. They look upon the church as a mere profession, and as an instrument for the advancement of their temporal interests. How rarely do we see them called to the bed-side of the dying sinner! How few there are, among the married clergy especially, who would readily attend to such a summons even if it were sent to them !-they would hesitate between their natural affections and their clerical duty."
• At other times it would be prudent to pass over unnoticed such accusations as these, and leave them to that silent contempt which their extravagance merits; but in the present state of public excitement, when there are so many disquieted spirits panting for any change that may alter, either for the better or the worse, the constitution of the church or the state, we cannot admit even the most absurd calumnies to go abroad without some notice of them, our enemies being determined to construe our silence into an admission of the truth of their assertions, or into an inability to defend, and justify our conduct. This attempt to stain our character with the charge of there existing no common sympathy of feeling between ourselves and our flocks, if it were true, would in a moment dissolve the bond of union which connects, in so many interesting relations, the priest and his parishioners together, and which has hitherto produced so much respect and veneration from the one, and been a source of such consolation and assistance to the other. But sad as such a dereliction of our sacred duty would be, worse, infinitely worse, would be our state and condition here, and immeasureably woful hereafter, if any one of us could be found so lost to sense, to propriety, to honour, to all the ties and sympathies of religion, and to nature, as to refuse a summons to attend the bed of a dying sinner! Culpable would it be in the friends of the dying not to make the call; ignominious in ourselves could we refuse it. No stronger argument could be urged against our sacred character, as he too well knows wbo has used it; for there is none that could so justly bring with it more merited contempt were it generally true. I myself have been for twenty-two years in the unremitted discharge of the most laborious parochial duties in different parts of the country, of which period the last fourteen have been occupied, with scarcely any interval, in a parish whose population has been gradually increasing from thirty to forty thousand souls: never, in any instance, have I desired, never, in any instance, have I dared, to refuse the solemn call to the bed of sickness, much less to the bed of death. I have lived, and continue to live, among the dead and dying: and, with all my numerous connections with the clergy, I have never found any other feeling than that of a prompt desire to commune with the distressed and fallen, and to console and pray with the afficted. In the great number composing our body, there may be exceptions to this practice, but I am confident they are rare. In all my co-operation with the ministry, with