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relentless in working out its principles, but otherwise friendly to the Church."
It is too soon to speak of the consequences of this measure. Already, however, some precious fruits have made their appearance. The altered position of the Church is accepted, and the spirit of priestly assumption on the part of the bishops has disappeared. The position of the laity as members of the Church is recognised, their assistance and co-operation cordially welcomed, and a spirit of conciliation and charity appears to prevail. Increased liberty of action, freer and fuller intercourse with each other, efforts to arrive at the wisest and best modes of external order, and greater dependence of the clergy on the laity, can scarcely fail to promote greater freedom of thought, combined with closer inquiry into the standards of faith and their agreement with the written Word of God, and may, there. fore, in the end lead to reform of doctrine as well as discipline. That such will be the case we cannot doubt, though the time may be yet distant.
FINISH CHURCH. Thegreat question of ecclesiastical polity which has for some time past occupied the attention of the country and of Parliament is the disestablishment and the disendowment of the Irish branch of the Church of England. We have not thought it necessary, nor desirable, to occupy our pages with any notices of the hot discussions which have preceded the passing of this measure. Its accomplishment places the Episcopal Church in Ireland in the position of all the other churches. It is no longer the State Church, and in the end will not possess, except to a limited extent, the large revenues previously in her possession. The change will affect the social position of the clergy, who will become more dependent on their congregations. That it will impair the efficiency and usefulness of the Church is strongly asserted by some, and as earnestly deuied by others. The ground on which it has been mainly advocated, is that of justice to Ireland, which, as a Catholic country, not unreasonably complained of having imposed upon it the Church of the minority as the established religion. This plea is admitted by the Guardian, which, in its issue of July 28, writes : "Let us say frankly that we record the settlement of this great question with sincere satisfaction, by no means unalloyed with pain. To us the bill has not been what it is to a multitude of persons whose judgment we respect, and with whom we generally agree-a wicked and sacrilegious piece of spoliation, not only dangerous to property, but certain to be injurious to far higher and more sacred interests; if it were, we should not be reconciled to it by anything that has been either done or attempted in the House of Lords. We have seen, and set, in it a measure directed to remove a real grievance, to put an end to a state of things which has always seemed to us incapable of defence, and to do what (had it been done in another country, had the Church disestablished been Roman Catholic, and the population Protestant) every one would have welcomed as a great act of justice—a measure honestly and carefully framed,
RELIGIOUS OPINION IN GERMANY.
A fearful crime has given marked attention to the present condition of Protestant Germany. On Sunday the 8th of August, as the officiating priest in the Cathedral Church of Berlin repeated the words, “I believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost," a young man rising from a front seat exclaimed, “You lie ?” and immediately fired a pistol at the head of the clergyman. The perpetrator of the crime was arrested on the spot, and in answer to the questions of his examination, stated that he had been partly educated for the ministry of the Established Church, but had renounced the idea of the ministry from a perception of the falsehood of the creed, and his disgust when he perceived that many of those who professed to believe it were liars at heart, while others listened with contemptuous indifference. A morbid imagination had led him to the conclusion that some striking deed was indispensable to rouse the public mind from its apathy; and he deter
mined to seize the first favourable opportunity that offered for shooting a clergyman while in the act of uttering what he regarded as his perjuries. The clergyman providentially escaped the ball of the assassin, but the circumstance has formed the occasion of a letter, on the general state of religious opinion in Germany, by the correspondent of the Times.
“The event,” says the writer, “throws a light upon the sad state of religion in this country. I am afraid the prisoner was right in supposing that many will appreciate his motive, though they will abhor the deed. I have previously stated in these columns that three-fourths of all educated men in Germany are estranged from the dogmatic teaching of the Christian creed estranged from it to the extent of dis. believing the sincerity of many of the clergy. Only a small fraction of the nation attends Divine service; the educated men, more especially, you meet in church on a Sunday are few and far between.” As an example of the few who attend Divine service, the writer gives an example of a public service at Wildbad, where, out of eighteen hundred visitors, five men and twenty women were all who at tended. “It is true," continues this correspondent, there is a sprinkling of faithful believers left in every part of the country, and “there are whole districts in which Protestant or Catholic orthodoxy may be said to prevail to this day. But these are exceptions. ... In whatever section of society you may happen to move, there is the undeniable fact that the dogmatism of St. Athanasius and the statutes of the Council of Nice have entirely ceased to be a living power. Scholars have begun to denominate Christianity as an Asiatic religion, and the public, proud of their vaunted European enlightenment, accept the degrading name.”
In the midst of this rejection of the prevalent forms of Christian belief there is no religious movement going on to restore society to a healthful Christian faith. “The majority of the educated in their insidious march towards rationalism, have advanced beyond acknowledging the necessity of any creed. Not content with rejecting the Bible, whose dogmas they regard as entirely
exploded by the moral, historical and scientific criticisms of the day, they have begun to doubt whether any teaching on transcendental subjects can be required to promote virtue. Most, indeed, profess to believe in God and immortality,” though with confused notions of the relations between the Creator and His creation. Others, “go the length of questioning the possibility of God's interfering with the self-supporting machinery of the world, and look upon prayer as a pagan rite, and sometimes become so irrational as to consider the very existence of God as problematical. By the side of these cultivated infidels the masses vegetate in traditional attachment to the forms of Christianity without any warm interest for or against the dogma.”
And what now are the prospects of deliverance from this sad condition of society? “A small fraction of educated men view with sorrow the absence of definite religious convictions in the people. This minority . . . endorse the notions of the majority respecting the obligation of the ancient creeds ; but they are persuaded that the human reason suffices to establish the small number of religious axioms they suppose to be required for the safe guidance of our career on earth. They consider it a grave duty to make this loftiest use of our reasoning faculties, .... and expect that some great man will arise or some committee of excellent individuals be formed, to take the initiative in the presumed sacred work." "They believe in God, hope for immortality, and acknowledge our inability to form by human reason alone an estimate touching our condition in a future state. They are not agreed on the questions of personal responsibility and the power of prayer;" and they regard Christ, not as a person of the Trinity but “as the most sublime phenomenon in the history of mankind."
This letter, as was to be expected, has given rise to considerable correspondence and comment. Mr. Ernest de Bunsen, a son of the late Baron Bunsen, denies the accuracy of the picture, but his admissions weaken the force of his denial, and he agrees with the Times' correspondent, that the majority of Germans have ceased to be Protestants in Luther's sense, or in the sense attached to the term by any Protestant creed whatever. Orthodox professors, according to both these authori. ties, are agreed with moderate Latitud. inarians and Rationalists. The Rev. Charles Wright of Boulogne, formerly British chaplain at Dresden, contends that faith is on the increase. The clergy, he says, are returning to orthodoxy, but it will be the work of many years to lead back the people. The German correspondents of the English Independent and Nonconformist, who look at this question from the standpoint of English Dissenters, both agree in the correctness of the general delineation of the subject, though in some of its features they think it less dark than the truth demands. Both these writers give very startling facts in support of their assertions.
Such then is the end to which mistaken systems of faith and erroneous modes of biblical exposition have led the nation. A widespread Naturalism is the result of the setting up of three distinct objects of Christian worship, instead of adoring the Father in the Son. A destructive Rationalism has resulted from the separation of the spirit from the letter of the Word ; and a night of spiritual darkness has set. tled upon the Church. What can remove this sad and fearful condition? Only the confession of the Lord as God, and the restoration of the Word in its spirit and its power to its distinct authority in the Church.
primary judicial body of each congrega. tion. The accused contented themselves with protesting against the right of the session to institute such an inquiry. The session referred for instructions to the presbytery, which directed them to proceed. The matter was not allowed, however, to remain with the Church. Writers in the public press entered into the conflict, and opened up the question as to how far the members of the Church are bound to hold in absolute strictness the doctrines of the authorized creeds. The creeds thus came under review, and in a leader on this controversy the Pall Mall Gazette says,“The Standards' of the Free Church contain propositions, laid down in the most absolute and unflinching words, from which clergymen and laymen nowa-days almost unanimously recoil. Of the thirty-three chapters of which the Confession consists, there is hardly one that could be now accepted in its primitive sense. Who among modern divines and laymen would like to stand up and say that in the plain sense of the word he believes that God created or made of nothing the world and all things therein in six days ;' that by the decree of God for the manifestation of His glory some men and angels were fore-ordained to everlasting death ;' that after providing for the redemption of the elect, 'the rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extendeth or withholdeth mercy as He pleaseth, for the glory of His sovereign powerover His creatures, to pass by and to ordain them to dishonour and wrath for their sins, to the praise of His glorious justice;' that the officers of the Church have the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, by virtue whereof they have power to retain and to remit sins, and to shut the kingdom against the impenitent;' that by the fall of Adam and Eve their descendants 'became wholly defiled in all faculties and parts of soul and body, that the guilt of this sin was imparted, and the same death in sin and corrupted nature conveyed to all their posterity;' that ‘elect infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved'-a tolerably broad damnation of unelect infants, or that the doctrine is to be detested' which pretends that 'men not professing the Christian religion can be saved
HERESY IN SCOTLAND. The progress of religious inquiry has affected the Church of Scotland quite as powerfully as that of England." The minds of the teachers and the taught oscil late between the new and the old. The creeds remain, but they no longer express the intellectual thought of the more intelligent classes of either the clergy or the laity. Occasionally a little extra zeal is manifested to ferret out heresy, which only ends in making manifest the extent of divergent opinion in the Church. An example of this kind has occurred at Coupar-Angus. Two of the lay members of the Free Church congregation at this place were suspected of holding erroneous opinions on the questions of predestination, eternal punishment, &c., and were cited to appear before the kirk-session, the
by any other way whatever, be they ever so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature and the law of that religion they do profess?' Nor are these shocking propositions more set aside tacitly than such other practical injunctions as those which direct that the whole of Sunday is to be spent in the public and private exercise of devotion, and in works of necessity and mercy, or that the civil power is bound to suppress all heresies, or that such as profess the true reformed religion should not marry with infidels, Papists, or other idolaters.' In short, it may be asserted that the Calvinism of the seventeenth century is not that of the nineteenth, and that the Church of Scotland would as little enact now-a-days the Westminster Confession as the Church of England would ordain the Athanasian Creed. But in both cases there is the creed, and what is to be done with it is the difficulty.”
Here, indeed, is the difficulty, and here also is the question of the dayWhat is to be done with it? The Church is in a transitional state, old things are slowly, but surely passing away. The creeds of the past no longer satisfy the demands of the present. Neither priests nor people can be bound to their narrow and unscriptural teach ings. Yet all are still required to accept these worn out symbols of their faith. They may be signed with “mental reservation," or with “reasonable construction to the words,” but they are there as a serious bar to upright and tender consciences, and an impediment to the intellectual and moral progress of the Church. An influential and growing party in the Church of Scotland, at the head of which is Principal Tulloch, recommends the rejection as far as possible of all positive enunciations of doctrine on theological questions. On this theory the words of the writer in the Pall Maii Gazette are worthy serious attention“How a Church is to be constituted without some form of agreement, and how such form is to be expressed is indeed a matter of the very gravest difficulty. Men everywhere shrink from it, but sooner or later it must be faced. It will not be strange if the crisis should first come in Scotland, where the fetter of creeds is at present riveted most firmly. At least it seems certain that if it be authoritatively
decreed that every member of a Scottish Church must believe what the Westminster Confession sets forth, there will be such a disruption as has never yet been seen even in that country. And beyond such a disruption, who can say what lies ? Nor, even if the Church courts find means to stop the perilous examination into the obligatory character of their creeds, before a positive decision is compelled, is it possible that the thinking portion of the people, now roused to consider what it is that they and their teachers are understood to profess, should not feel driven to decide for themselves, whether they will allow their liberty to be circumscribed, even in form and theory within the limits of doctrines which in their consciences they repudiate ?”
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA.—The Society of the New Church in Melbourne, Victoria, has now been in existence for fifteen years, during which period it has fully experienced the trials incident to a new country, and ever-changing state of the population, with which all religious parties here have had to contend; but at the same time has maintained the ordinances of worship regularly, in decency and order. The enrolled members at the present time number about thirty persons, but this must not be regarded as indicating the number of those who are receivers of, or friendly to the doctrines of the New Church in Melbourne, and the colony generally, very many such keeping aloof from external profession on the ground of the Society not possessing the advantage of an ordained minister, and it is felt that without this great benefit, not only will our number not be likely to increase, but that as a Society we cannot hope to progress in spiritual knowledge and edification in divine things, or to exercise such a use as we ought in the community. But though feeling painfully our want in this respect, our numerical weakness and depressed cir. cumstances render it impracticable for us to give, as we would desire, a definite invitation to a minister of the Church to come and take the pastoral oversight of our Society.
But we feel satisfied that if, in the good providence of the Lord, such a shepherd was to come amongst us, though the beginning might be small, there would soon be a large increase. He would find the nucleus of a Church, the members of which would lovingly unite to the extent of their ability in sustaining, and the circumstances of the place justify the hope that the cause would, by the Divine blessing, very soon become self-supporting.
It would be impossible, perhaps, to find a sphere more eminently fitted for a New Church minister, with a mis sionary spirit and ability, to set forth the doctrines of the Church in their scriptural character, to do so with greater hope of success. There are here representatives of well-nigh every phase of religious profession, exercising to wards each other a degree of catholicity and mutual respect, to be looked for in vain in the cities of the old world ; and there are, both within the religious communities and outside their pale, very many of an inquiring spirit who perhaps at present 'inclining towards scepticism, would willingly, it is believed, listen to any views of truth which would harmonize the statements of Divine revelation with the inductions of modern science and the dictates of enlightened reason.
While, therefore, our Society would not mislead by taking the responsibility of inviting a minister or leader, it is yet deemed by the committee a duty to place this plain statement before the Church in England and America, with the view of affording information, that in this day, when many are “ going to and fro," and thereby®“ knowledge is increased,” should any gentleman of suitable ability be led to think of coming to these shores, he may understand the circumstances of our position, and the reasons which would induce us to hope that his coming might not be in vain. ALEX. MILLER, Treas.
C. F. HENRY, Sec. MELBOURNE, July 1869.
parts of the States and one from Canada. The assembly was presided over by the venerable Dr. Worcester, assisted by Mr. Scammon as vice-president. A larger portion of time is given by the Convention to religious exercises than in England, and this circumstance is not improbably one source of attraction to the visitors who frequent its assemblies. In addition to the opening of the Convention each day by the reading of the Word and prayer, at noon a recess is held, and a sermon preached by one of the ministers in attendance. At this service also the sacrament of baptism is administered—an opportunity being thus afforded of public admission into the Church in presence of her assembled members from all parts of the States.
The Convention has originated, and actively superintends by its several committees a great variety of important uses. These provide for the wants, and aim to build up the Church in every part of their extensive country. Their missionary labours are actively prosecuted by several ministers, who devote their whole time, and others who give portions of their time to the work, and who combine with this labour the duties of colporteur. These labours have been directed both to the English and German portions of the population, and have extended to the several States of Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Tennesee, Georgia, South Carolina, Delaware, Connecticut, Massachusetts (where three ordained missionaries are employed), New Hampshire, and Maine. The committee which has had the superintendence of these extended labours, say, in concluding their report, “Your Committee must express the belief that never has there been a time when there was more need of missionaries, or when the promise of an abundant harvest was greater. We believe that more minds have been called to become acquainted with the writings of Swedenborg, and to attain some knowledge of the doctrines of the New Church, than in any previous year. More of the works of the Church have been spread through our common country by means of the press than in any previous year; more have been read ; and thus we believe that the public mind is gradually coming into a state of preparation to receive
GENERAL CONVENTION OF THE NEW JERUSALEM IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.—The fiftieth Annual Session of this Convention was held in the house of worship of the New York New Church Society from the 16th to the 20th of June. Ten Associations were represented by one hundred and thirtyfour ministers and delegates. In addition to these, members of the Church were present as visitors from different