Page images
PDF
EPUB

Parliament of the number of parish churches and chapels of ease of the Church of England, and of the number of places of worship not of the Church of England, so far as regards the county of Lancaster.'

" The returns for this county were selected as being the most favourable for the side adopted by the Morning Chronicle, as including a vast manufacturing population. And the returns shew that the dissenters, instead of forming the immense majority of the population, form scarcely the fourth part of it. The total population, according to the census used, and omitting three hundreds of the county, amounts to 953,970: and of these, the number of Protestant Dissenters is 111,167; the number of Roman Catholics 144,244; and the number not included in either of these is 698,559. It will be observed that the number of Roman Catholics in Lancaslıire is greatly increased by the vast influx of the lower orders of Irish labourers, especially in the great towns. In this populous county then, situated in the heart of the manufacturing district, the whole dissenters from the Church of England, according to the officially recorded statements of the dissenters themselves, amount to little more than one-fourth of the whole population : the

Protestant dissenters (111,167) form not one-sixth part of the remainder of the Protestants (698,559): and nearly half of these dissenters (55,083) are Wesleyan Methodists, who are not hostile to the Established Church."

The controversy did not end here. The Morning Chronicle went on to argue that this return of the dissenters was not a true return (though made by themselves), but it did not distinctly state why. As far as its argument could be made out, it seemed to say, partly, that many attend at dissenting chapels who are not admitted members, and that we ought probably to multiply by three to get the truth.

But this was not the ground it ventured to go on entirely. Partly, it said the number ought to be increased, because many do not attend and yet are members, or belong to the congregation. The fact is, that the number of members is distinctly returned, whether they attend or not.

But to prove this part of the argument, the Morning Chronicle chuses to assume 400 as the average of a church congregation, and there are in this county 281 churches and chapels. This would give 112,400 actual attendants on church worship. And even thus there would be more actual attendants on the church than there are members of all the sects of dissent, whether attendant or not. One-third of a population is no great attendance at church, as is commonly known. Then there will be three times as many churchmen as there are members of all the sects of Protestant dissenters.

There are some other facts worth putting forward. The Wesleyan methodists, it will be seen, have 55,083 members, and they have 264 chapels-i. e., 210 per chapel. The Unitarians (who are stronger in Liverpool than in most places) have 5099 members and 20 chapelsmi. e., 182 to a chapel. But the Christian Advocate says that the usual average of attendances at Unitarian chapels is from 30 to 50 only. The Quakers have 20 chapels and 1998 members—i. e., 100 per chapel. The Methodists, says the Morning Chronicle, are altogether about 500,000. If one rightly understands a document in the Christian Advocate, the real Wesleyans appear to be in England and Wales only 267,614. One thing is to be remembered also in comparing the number of chupels, that the number of square feet in dissenting chapels is usually very much smaller than that in the places of worship of the Establishment.*

• The following is worth reading

To the Editor of the Nottingham Journal. SIR,—In reference to Mr. Hopper's remarks as regards the number of dissenters in this town, I beg to state, and I challenge contradiction, that the average numbers of dissenting congregations (without the catholics) do not amount to more than 320 to each chapel, and the average number of male adults are not more than 110; and if you take the Wesleyan Methodists away, which belong more to the church than any other sect, the average numbers would be very few. It is monstrous to suppose,

DEVONSHIRE TITIIE MEETING. The public attention is requested to the fact, that at a Devonshire County Meeting, Lord Ebrington most honourably declared his perfect conviction of the falsehood of the statements respecting the tripartite division of tithes, and went into the question, historically, and with great courage and perseverance. It is equally to the honour of the noble Lord that he, as well as Captain Buller, Mr. Bulteel, Mr. Divett, and Mr. Newton Fellowes, openly declared against the iniquitous proposal of fixing 2s. in the pound on the rent as the commutation for Tithes, and declared that they would not support the prayer of the petition. They were hissed and hooted of course, as every one will be who dares to do what he thinks proper and right. The meetings against tithes, as even the Times allows, have been failures.

“ the

THE ESTABLISHED CHURCH.

(From a Welsh Paper.) A PREMIUM is offered by certain churchmen, for the best essay on Usefulness and Benefits of an Established Church, &c.” A promise of pecuniary reward is not necessary to induce the friends of truth (!) to come forth in its defence.

But it is here announced that a Society is established, the object of which is the diffusion of Knowledge, on the injustice and the evils of established churches. Those who have leisure to write are requested to prepare Treatises in the Welsh Language) by the first of March, 1834, on The injustice and the Religious evils of Church Establishments, with full and distinct answers to the assertions most commonly made in favour of the Church of England.—The place appointed to receive the Treatises will be announced in due time.

One hundred Books will be given to the Author of the best Essay, and fifty to that of the second.

[ocr errors]

COBBETT ON THE ESTABLISHED CHURCH. I was a sincere churchman-because experience had convinced me that an uniformity in the religion of a country was a most desirable thing; because it was reasonable, and just, that those who had neither house nor land, and who were the millions of a country, and who performed all its useful labours, should have a church, a church-yard, a minister of religion, and all religious services performed for them, at the expense of those who did possess the houses and the land. In a word, in the church and its possessions I saw the patrimony of the working people, who had neither house nor land of their own private property. For these reasons I was a friend, and a very sincere friend, and able to be a very powerful friend of the Church Establishment. An Established Church, a Church Establishment upon Christian principles, is this : that it provides an edifice sufficiently spacious for the assembling of the people in every parish—that it provides a spot for the interment of the dead-that it provides a priest, or teacher of religion, to officiate in the edifice-to go to the houses of the inhabitants—to administer comfort to the distressed-to counsel

that because dissenters have divided from among themselves, and built chapels, that the average numbers are to be taken from the number of sittings they are capable of holding. But, Sir, suppose you were to take away those who have dissented from political motives, what then would be the average number of conscientious dissenters?

I remain, Sir, your's, &c.
Nottingham, Jan. 7th, 1834.

S. Y. 2.

the wayward—to teach children their duty towards God, their parents, and their country—(hence our parish schools !)—to perform the duties of marrying, baptizing, and burying; and particularly to initiate children in the first principles of religion and morality, and to cause them to communicate—that is to say, by an outward mark, to become members of the Spiritual Church of Christ; all which things are to be provided for by those who are the proprietors of the houses and the lands of a parish, and, when so provided, are to be deemed the property, or the uses, belonging to the poorest man in the parish as well as to the richest.—Cobbett, 21st December, 1833.

VOLUNTARY SYSTEM. It is a curious fact, and one well worthy of remark, that, in all the arguments on this point, the advocates of the voluntary system uniformly bring great towns exclusively into view, and carefully omit all mention of the country. They know that it can never work in any but very thickly-inhabited places, and they leave the poor agriculturists very quietly to their fate. Their souls are not worth saving.

So it is as to America. There, too, we are told that the non-compulsory system works admirably—but where? Still in great towns! Doubtless even a “law church” would have great difficulty in dealing with the backwood's men, but it would try, and do something. The voluntary system does nothing except in settled places, and cannot try.

The following are extracts from the letter of a minister of the Associate Synod of North America, given in the Fifeshire Journal of Jan. 18 :

“ The ministers here, amidst the wealth which we have, are compelled to support themselves by farming or teaching,—not one in twenty can support himself on his stipend. Except the churches in our denomination in this State (New York), our ministers, in allother places, have farms. They are not, therefore, wholly devoted to their work. There is no necessity for this. The people, if they had a right spirit, are able to support a minister ; but they have, like the Scotch, been long in the habit of giving a trifle of their abundance to God's cause, and they lavish it freely on the fashions of this world.”

After describing their finery in dress, he adds :

“But some of these men and women have not a Bible of their own, although their parents are members of the church. Worldly intercourse abounds on Sabbaths. More than 100,000 Americans navigate its rivers, either for business or pleasure, besides the many thousands who labour in the field, travel on their journeys, or visit each other on that holy day. Only a few of our citizens care for the church of God, or enter within its walls.

Last season, our Legislature, at the instance of a few infidels,[how will this be hereafter in the House of Commons ?-Ed.] “ gave way, in the most cowardly manner, and preferred to begin the business of every day without prayer, as had, till then, been the practice. The Senate of the United States chose a Popish Priest last Session; and, two years ago, they appointed an Unitarian to that office."

Dr. Dwight (vol. iii. p. 177) says that “at Chriton, there are three Presbyterian congregations, and two clergymen. These gentlemen, though held in high estimation, and deservedly beloved by their parishioners, consider themselves as holding their connexion with these congregations by a very precarious tenure. A voluntary contribution, except in a large town, is as uncertain as the wind, and a cameleon only can expect to derive a parmanent support from this source.”

Again (vol. iv.), he says (in speaking of New Hampshire), that "the last minister of Wolfborough died about fourteen years since, and the reluctance

to be at the necessary expense has prevented the inhabitants from settling another. This is an extensive calamity in New Hampshire."

The writer refers to a pamphlet by Mr. Lorimer, of St. David's Church, Glasgow, called “The Past and Present Condition of Religion in America, an Argument, not for Voluntary, but Established Churches ;' and he adds, as to the ministers of voluntary congregations, that One, formerly a Manufacturer, is now an Agent for a friend in our

Metropolis. “ One is Partner in a Brewery. “ One is a Bookseller. “One is leaving his congregation because they will not pay their arrears. “One is likely to leave his chapel, and turn Confectioner.'

THEORY.

a

VOLUNTARY SYSTEM.
(From the Record, Jan. 3rd.)

FACTS. “ It [the voluntary principle in “ The Committee (of the Baptist opposition to endowments) will not Home Missionary Society] mention work so efficaciously. This, as with regret that they are unable to general assertion, is so strange and add a single sentence in which they so directly in the teeth of evidence, [certain ministers] have engaged to that one is disposed to ask, can we raise larger contributions than forand our opponents be agreed on the merly, although the sums now eximport of that term ?

If it pended in almost every district far be meant that it [the voluntary exceed the amount hitherto received. system) will not so well provide the “There are now upwards of twenty means of instruction and worship to cases unassisted entirely for want of the people, then we wonder at the funds! It is with pain and grief boldness which can

that they are compelled to delay man to the declaration. The facts and to diminish aid to many whose are all on one side !!"

- Baptist abundant labours entitle them to an Magazine, Jan. 1834, p. 24.

adequate support. May the great Lord of the harvest hasten the time when his people shall cheerfully bring all the tithes into the storehouse, &c."-Baptist Magazine, Jan. 1834,

commit any

p. 35.

ADMIRABLE WORKING OF THE VOLUNTARY SYSTEM. THERE is a pamphlet lately published in the north, called, “ A New Exposure of the Reverend Leaders of the Voluntary Church Associations, lately organized to oppose the Established Churches of the empire, and particularly the Church of Scotland,” which has come to a second edition in a few days, and has irritated the" leaders of the voluntary system” to an exhibition of more than even their usual violence of temper and language. Well it may do so, for it sets before the public facts, with names of place and persons, which they cannot and do not contradict.

First, it charges the reverend leaders of the voluntary system with gambling speculations in chapels. It gives a list of twenty-six chapels in the south of Scotland, in Newcastle, Sunderland, and Wearmouth, with the names of the ministers in every case but two, and the DEBT on each.

At Glasgow, it asks Dr. Wardlaw if he cannot tell of a voluntary chapel with a debt of about nine-thousand pounds. Mr. Johnstone, it thinks, can tell of one

in the Gorbals, with a debt of about four thousand pounds, to say nothing of accommodation bills to the extent of one thousand pounds. Dr. Ferrier knows of one at Paisley, with a debt of three thousand pounds. Dr. Brown, of one at Edinburgh, with the same debt. At Newcastle, there are debts to the amount of four thousand two hundred!! At Sunderland, to the amount of fifteen hundred ; at Monkwearmouth, to the amount of eight hundred.

The writer says, he has been requested to abstain from referring to several others in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth, and elsewhere. Still, altogether, he has enumerated debts exceeding forty thousand pounds on the chapels mentioned.

The chapels, it seems, in the voluntary system, are constantly built, not because there are congregations which want them, but because ministers want congregations. Many of these speculations have utterly failed. Then there are begging perambulations,-moving appeals to yearly meetings,-collections in richer congregations ;* while the poor saints” are left to be maintained by money collected in the establishment. At one place (the names are all given) certain pews have a ticket with the word unpaid on them, to compel the occupiers who were in arrears to pay for shame. At another, defaulters were warned from the pulpit, that they would be denied the communion; and a man who had taken two seats for himself and wife, having become poor and produced only half the sum when he went to pay, was told, that only one would be admitted. Calls are drawn on stamps ; in some counties there are bonds for the stipends ; and the ministers claim votes on the ground of having a right to their dwelling houses. The stipends of ministers (named) are undergoing reduction ; in some cases, no new ministers are appointed, because no stipend can be got; while in Ireland, where the Regium Donum is given, not one vacancy ever exists. Then the pulpits resound with exhortations to liberality from scripture, which is tortured in the most extraordinary way; while in other cases, money is extorted from the sick and dying.

The pamphlet goes on to mertion, that collections are solicited from persons of all denominations at Glasgow, to keep Dr. Wardlaw's chapel out of the bands of creditors !--that one minister has a subscription in the neighbourhood because his stipend is inadequate; that another complained bitterly of having ministered twenty years in poverty, and that when he wanted his parlour painted, his elders had to seek the sum necessary, in small sums through their respective districts;t that another who had distant duties, besought his congregation, the day after giving them the Sacrament, out of love to the gospel and their minister, to give him 201, a year for a horse, and that, with exceeding difficulty, he extorted ten pounds for that one year; that at Wearmouth, the members either cannot or will not pay the stipend ; that at Newcastle, the salary of a superannuated minister was reduced to a miserable pittance, one colleague dismissed, another scantily maintained, and it is now doubtful whether they can maintain another; that at Glasgow, a minister was obliged to say he must go to America, if the congregation would not give him enough

The same thing exactly occurs in the south of England. When a speculation fails on the spot, the minister goes to London or the great towns, gets a testimonial signed by a certain number of ministers (for there have been so many impostures, that without this nothing is given), and the debt stated in writing (the rest being printed, so matured is the system), and with this document in his hand, he goes round and levies contributions. The Editor had one of these precious documents sent to him the other day, which he will use shortly.

† A carpenter working in the house of a friend of the Editor's, mentioned very angrily a discussion going on in his congregation whether some common culinary vessel should be provided for the preacher. And one of the happy ministers of the happy voluntary system very thankfully accepted a sovereign from a clerical friend of his a few months ago. VOL. V.-Feb. 1834.

2 E

« PreviousContinue »