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MEADEN, PRINTER, HIGH STREET, CLAPHAM.

THE

CHURCH OF ENGLAND
Quarterly Review.

JANUARY, MDCCCLVI.

ART. I.—1. The Bishop of Lincoln's Address in the Corn Exchange in behalf of the Curates' Aid Society. Times, October 18th, 1855.

2. Church Orders by Presbyters. London: Wertheim and Mackintosh.

3. Ecclesiæ Decus et Tutamen.

The Extension, Security, and Moral Influence of the United Church of England and Ireland, augmented by a Revision of its Economy, Discipline, and Ritual; and by its Alliance with other Branches of the British Reformation on the Basis of Mutual Aid and Concession. Republished, with a Preliminary Address in reference to the present Position of the Evangelical Clergy. By the Rev. J. RILAND, M.A., Honorary Chaplain of the Magdalen Asylum Episcopal Chapel, Birmingham.

REFORM has been applied to every institution of the country but one; and that is the one which needs it more than any other. The Church, considered as a recognized body in the State, is exactly what she was three centuries ago; or rather, she is a petrifaction of what she was. She is a dead body, parts of which may be galvanized into moving, as if they belonged to a living body; but which as a whole has lost the internal principle of life. Reform alone can restore her, and this everybody sees. How then is it that the Church has been the last to hold out? that, with abuses most glaring, and an unfitness for the age on all sides acknowledged, attempts at reform have been of the very smallest andthe most unconnected? The actual magnitude of the task has been one reason: but the chief cause has been, that while everybody sees the necessity of change, scarcely two persons

VOL. XXXIX.

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agree as to the mode. High-churchman differs from Lowchurchman, the medæivalist from the follower of Germanism. The opposition is always strong enough to defeat an attack, but it can never enforce its own views. As, however, no one is satisfied with the present state of things-we cannot call it the present system, for it is nothing but a chaos-we intend to appeal to the public, and to put forth our ideas of the nature of the reform; undeterred by the thought that what we broach may be deemed heretical, or even may be too sweeping in its proposed changes, to meet with any sufficient amount of sympathy.

The changes must be sweeping if our Church is to be preserved. All her contemporary institutions in the State have been altered and remodelled to suit the age, and so must she. The Church, as it exists, is no more adapted to the wants and sentiments of the nineteenth century than a revived Wittenagemote would be. Had it been altered from time to time, as manners and population altered, small changes might now be enough. But as the Church of England has remained substantially untouched by the hand of improvement for three centuries, that hand must be strongly and vigorously applied, or the decaving edifice will fall.

It

Time was when every man of the nation, with scarcely an exception, was a member of the National Church; but now half the people belong to other communions, or else to no communion at all. We must look this fact in the face. is of no use to close our eyes, and then to say we do not see danger; or to point to the revived activity and energy within the Church, and to assert that these are our safeguard. Our enemies are as active as we, or even more active than we are. They are gaining upon us day by day. This is one among the many arguments which ought to stir up men to be church-reformers. One man is a reformer because he loves his God, and wishes to see him worshipped by all mankind. He is persuaded that the Church would prove a most efficient power for bringing men to a knowledge of their Maker, if obvious excrescences were got rid of, and deficiencies supplied. Another man likes to see order and vigour in all that he is connected with; and so he would repair a machine, which was once capable of doing much, but which has become rusty with age, and parts of which might with advantage be superseded by the simpler contrivances of later times. A third may be in actual alarm for the safety of the Establishment. While the first two arguments ought to have the chiefest weight with those who are anxious for reform, a

PRESENT DANGERS.

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great deal of importance ought still to be attached to the last; and the more so as the danger is undoubtedly imminent. People may urge that they see no signs of approaching trouble; that at any rate many years must elapse, and there must occur many unmistakeable omens, before an attempt to overthrow us can be made with any chance of success. So anti-reformers always argue up to the very last: the assault always finds them secure and unprepared. So it was with the Popes and the Reformation. The bishops of Rome could see no cause for alarm: they even amused themselves by encouraging that revival of learning, and by helping on that awakening of the human mind, which prostrated their power. It is always thus in the time of great commotions. A deceptive calm precedes them, and men begin to fancy that the danger has gone by. The wind has been violent; but there is a lull, and the bark begins to spread her sails again. The real storm, however, of which the former was only a precursor, comes on with tenfold violence, and the overconfident mariners are engulfed in the raging billows. We have had our threatening appearances. Enemies from many quarters have long been assailing us: they have of late been. drawing closer together, and have united for the avowed purpose of overthrowing us. Church-rates have already gone, to all practical purposes; and how long will it be before tithes follow? Every argument brought forward against church-rates is applicable, though not so fairly, against tithes. These have respite for a little longer, because, first, they do not much affect the middle classes-the classes most hostile to the Church Secondly. Many laymen, and they of high rank and of much power, hold tithes; and, thirdly, their payment can, without doubt or difficulty, be enforced. But the success of one agitation will stimulate our opponents to another. An outcry will be raised on the pretext of religious liberty; and an act to abolish tithes will be forced through Parliament, while they will be called "one of the last of those things which have so long stood in the way of every man worshipping God as he pleases."

The Church's enemies are numerous and active; but who are her sincere friends? Not statesmen. With few exceptions they are perfectly indifferent to religion, unless as it affects their craft. If it tend to make men more peaceable and more easily governed; or if it will serve as a means of exciting men's passions on some question on which the statesman needs support; or if to profess a reverence for some section or church will give him a better name, and bring him

into notice, then he will make speeches about the value of religion but generally he is too much absorbed in his own speculations and schemes to think much about it. Similarly, most men of large business are indifferent to anything bearing on a future life. The middle classes of towns constitute a large part of all dissenting bodies, and they are hostile to the Church. We might be tempted to hope for the aid of the labouring classes, with whose improvement the Church has been of late so much engaged; but these are of little avail in themselves. Their education is too superficial to allow of their acting on their own responsibility, and as the first impulses of their hearts would suggest; and when they do engage in political strife, it is always at the back of agitators and self-styled reformers, whose schemes involve destruction rather than reform. Almost the only part of the nation which is, at the same time, sincerely devoted to the Church, and able to give her aid, consists of a portion of the higher orders; but their help will little avail in the day of calamity. In secular politics these cannot even hold their own, but are daily losing ground. Real power is with the middle classes.

But the greatest enemy against which the Church has to contend is not dissent, it is not indifference, it is not infidelity; it is that disinclination to reform which is strong within her; or, rather, perhaps we should designateit as the propensity of the human mind to stagnate, its inaptness for reflection, or for following out causes to their effects. If these enemies could be expelled, we need fear none without. Nothing can destroy the Church but those defects which prevent her from developing herself as she might do. She must regain the affection and esteem of the great body of the members of every station. It is only obvious utility, enlarged activity, and great success, that can save her in these days of change. And reform is needful to render her what her friends could wish her to be. No one can be engaged in the work of the ministry, or even can take interest in the spiritual welfare of his neighbours, without observing how much the Church's action is shackled by antiquated laws and customs. Reform, then, say we; reform, before we fall.

But is this a time for reform, when we are in the midst of a desperate war, which taxes all our strength and energy? All other constitutional ameliorations have been postponed; ought not this one also to be postponed? No: this is the very time when church-reform can be made with the greatest sucThere are no other great measures under discussion,

cess.

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