Изображения страниц

in the first Oxford Prayer-book which we happen to turn to-of the date of 1823, and issued by the Prayer-book and Homily Society-the comma

is omitted.


To the Editor of the Christian Observer.

SIR, My attention was drawn to some remarks in your Number for March (p. 162) on the intermixture of Apocryphal and Scriptural characters in Mr. Baker's "Scriptural Characters," and the Questions on it, which led to an examination of the books in the accompanying series ("Teachers' Lessons,") and the withdrawment and cancelling of whatever were on hand. The book as it now stands will, I trust, be found unexceptionable in this respect; though before it had entirely escaped notice, through being entirely confined to historical personages. As you have mentioned Mr. Baker by name, I shall be exceedingly obliged by any notice, however slight, if this series in its amended form be satisfactory to you,

And am Yours very respectfully,

JOHN WRIGHT, Publisher.

***The alterations obviate every objection. We ought perhaps to add, lest we should be accused of unfair suppression, that we received a letter from Mr. Baker, in which he expressed displeasure at our remarks, as "under the most charitable construction scarcely warranted;" for he maintained that Antiochus Epiphanes is a "Bible Character," because commentators think him alluded to in inspired prophecy; and he included Tobit and Mattathias among "Bible Characters," because the Church of England uses the Apocrypha "for example of life and instruction of manners," though not "to establish any doctrine." We did not think this defence would avail anything; and we therefore left time and silence to do their work, and the result has been satisfactory. Mr. Baker, who is the master of the Deaf and Dumb institution at Doncaster, has published a useful series of "Teachers' Lessons," now on Wright and Company's list; which comprises a great number of cheap and excellent religious tracts and books.


To the Editor of the Christian Observer.

Manchester, May 1, 1843. THE last Number of your valuable periodical has just reached me; and I hastened, as usual, to read your remarks on public affairs. I feel it my duty to draw your attention to those at p. 317, beginning, "The mass of demoralization, degradation, and misery, which accumulates and festers in our densely peopled manufacturing districts, is fearful in the extreme.' What I wish to observe is, that this is evidently written by a person not acquainted with the real facts of the case. Our condition is bad enough, but we are libelled. The notion has become prevalent that the state of morality in such districts is bad in comparison with country and other districts; this position, I have no hesitation in saying, is quite inconsistent

with facts. Abundant evidence might be brought to prove this: an instance or two may suffice as samples. In a return, very recently presented to the House of Commons, for three years past, the number of illegitimate births in two manufacturing and in two agricultural counties is given; shewing the number in the agricultural to be about double those in the manufacturing, for the same amount of population: namely, West Riding of Yorkshire 3 in 1000 illegitimate; Lancashire 34; Norfolk 6 ; and Hereford 6. In the second place, I would refer you to the report of the parish of St. Margaret's, Westminster. We cannot produce instances of so much vice and immorality as is to be found there. Much misapprehension has existed as to our condition from the narration of isolated and extreme cases by well-meaning persons, who, in their desire to do good, have forgotten that such evils as they have described are not the ordinary condition of the people, but happily the rare exception. It were to be wished that opinions as to the state of our population were given by people who took the trouble to investigate in person, and not merely from hearsay; and then we should have justice done us, in the admission how much better the condition of the manufacturing class, than the neglected agricultural labourer, or the poor more than slave-worked milliners.


Your impartial consideration of these very hasty remarks is solicited Dear Sir, Yours, &c.


We insert the above, not with a view to revoke our statement; but to relieve it from the charge of unfairness of comparison; and also to remind our readers of the claims of other portions of the land. We made no comparison at all. We were speaking only of the Education clauses in the Factory Bill, and shewing the need of legislative interposition in aid of" our densely-peopled manufacturing districts," the moral and physical wants of which we described in the terms quoted by our correspondent. The condition of our rural districts, and of large towns not of the factory class, was not within the range of our topic; for there was no measure before Parliament respecting them; yet so strongly did we feel that these also require anxious attention, and that the manufacturing districts ought not to engross all our sympathies and efforts, that we went out of our way to shew that our statement applied generally to densely peopled districts; and also to many "rural and mixed districts;" which last assertion we illustrated by the declaration of Mr. Justice Wightman at the last assizes for the county of Gloucester, that, out of 110 prisoners who had been brought before him, only ten could write or read. There was therefore nothing in our statement invidious towards the factory districts; the mournful condition of which, though there may have been some exaggeration, cannot have been in the main mistaken by all the judges, magistrates, clergymen, dissenting ministers, school-masters, Sunday-school teachers, factory commissioners, sanitary commissioners, and others, who have collected evidence on the subject.

But, we repeat, we did not confine the frequent and extensive prevalence of want, degradation, ignorance, vice, and misery, to factory districts. These awful concomitants of our fallen and sinful nature are alas! to be found elsewhere. Witness the coal-mine districts, the iron districts, the potteries, many places connected with sea-faring pursuits from Wapping to Plymouth, and not least the great metropolis itself, respecting which we will quote some appalling observations delivered by the Rev. E. Bickersteth at the anniversary of the "City Mission Society;" and which, though they have not convinced us that the CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 66.

2 X

Bishop, Clergy, and Church laity of London would best direct their efforts by employing the instrumentality of a mixed institution, yet have assuredly deepened our conviction-if that were possible-that the Established Church ought to arouse itself to far more zealous and laborious exertions than have hitherto been attempted, or at least carried out ;-for contemplated they have been; and already some clergymen have been appointed in populous districts as missionaries; clergyman not yet appointed to churches, but who, under the direction of the local pastor, are gathering together worshippers to cause a demand for them, according to the admirable suggestion of Sir Robert Peel. But what has hitherto been attempted in London, is but a hopeful commencement of a mighty labour. Our new churches invite worshippers, but they are stationary; whereas worshippers must be sought out, and, if we may so speak, made; for they cannot be expected to accumulate spontaneously among the class of persons we are speaking of; it being the accustomed order of God's all-wise providence to connect means with ends. We need active missionary labour, which no two or three clergymen can adequately bestow in our large densely populated districts; nor can we see any reason why the clergy should not be aided by the efforts of pious, zealous, industrious, and discreet laymen, working under their superintendence, and combining church order with evangelical doctrine and a holy life. Why cannot the Church of England have its missions in our large towns, under episcopal and pastoral control? Such men as some whom we have seen labouring in wretched districts under the auspices of the City Mission Society, would be an ornament to any society, and a blessing to any neighbourhood; and why cannot the Church of England find such men in its own communion, and make good use of them in connexion with its own parochial system?

The following is Mr. Bickersteth's statement. Our Manchester correspondent will see, by our quoting it, that we do not confine the demands on Christian exertion, or legislative responsibility, to the factory districts.

"When they remembered that within the radius of eight miles from St. Paul's there were one million of fellow-men neglecting altogether public worship; when, out of a population of 2,100,000, within the bills of mortality, there were not more than 350,000 who were gathered together to any place of worship; when they reflected on the immense mass of atheism, crime, immorality, and ignorance, which existed in this metropolis of the world, they could not but feel that it presented a mighty claim to their compassion, and urgently demanded the most strenuous exertions of an Association such as the London City Mission. On Wednesday last, he conversed with two of their excellent missionaries, and their account of the state of things which existed in this metropolis was truly horrible. He could not himself have imagined the existence of so much depravity and vice. In a street near Covent-garden, in each house of which there were from eight to ten rooms; each house contained from ten to twelve families; many of these rooms, with a blanket hung across to divide them, being occupied by two families; and from sixty to eighty thieves, and from sixty to eighty prostitutes, were living in this part alone. In a street near Smithfield, there was one house with seven rooms, in each of which seven or eight persons ate, drank, and slept, and found their only refuge. In Spitalfields, no new houses had been built for some years, and many had been pulled down by the North-Eastern Railway Company, and yet 3,000 had been in that district added to a population of 17,000 or 18,000 within the last ten years; and in one part of Spitalfields, house after house was filled with avowed Infidels. A week's rent in advance was the only character required for a tenant, and marriage was utterly neglected. In one court in the neighbourhood of Cow-cross, there were twenty-three unmarried couples living together, and their children were unbaptized. A vast proportion of these people could not read at all; the greater part of them were starving; all their energies were directed to obtaining daily food to relieve their daily hunger, and it required the utmost tact on the part of the missionaries, under such distressing circumstances, to attract their attention at all. Such was the scene of the extraordinary exertions of that Society, and it was delightful to find how greatly those exertions had been blessed."


To the Editor of the Christian Observer.

I AM not prone to fault-finding; but I fear there is some weight in the objections which have of late been urged, relative to the "Anniversary Festival of the Sons of the Clergy;" as that the daily worship of God, for some time before and after the festival, is suspended in order to allow of the erection and removal of scaffolds, bars, and music-galleries; that the "performance," especially at the "rehearsal," partakes too much of a musical entertainment, rather than of a devotional solemnity; that the exclusion of persons from Divine worship, unless they pay money at the barrier, is not seemly, and perhaps not legal; and that allotting places according to the sums paid for "tickets," the minimum prices of which are specified in the bills, is a practice more theatrical than ecclesiastical.

But there is one particular which I have not seen noticed, but which deserves attention, especially as the practice is finding its way elsewhere; namely, that of fixing the hour of worship so unsuitably to the character of the service as to cause painful anomalies. To suit the late hours of

modern society, and yet not to lose Handel's Dettingen Te Deum, the morning service is celebrated at the Festival of the Sons of the Clergy; but is made to commence at two o'clock in the afternoon; so that the congregation are engaged in "mattins," while their brethren elsewhere are celebrating "even-song;"-I use the old terms, as retained by our Church in the heading of the "proper lessons ;"-and between three and four o'clock-if I do not miscalculate the length of the service— the minister is reading "Who hast safely brought us to the beginning of this day, defend us in the same;" while in other churches the people are praying, "Defend us from all perils and dangers of this night."



For the Christian Observer.

A DIFFERENCE of opinion prevails among the Clergy of our Church, respecting the most suitable age for the admission of candidates to the rite of Confirmation. Some think that it is best, for the most part, to agree upon a certain minimum age; others, that the proficiency and character of the catechumen are the sole criterion. Here also there is a variety of opinion; some considering that a child should be admitted to the rite, as a strengthening solemnity, as soon as he can understand its nature, and appears desirous of renewing the vows of his baptism, and coming to the table of the Lord; others that it is better he should wait for a few years, till his knowledge is increased and his character more fully formed. In the Metropolitan diocese the Bishop has specified a particular age-namely, sixteen years-as the ordinary minimum; but in general the Clergy are left to their own discretion; and hence the age of attendance from different parishes varies according to the opinions of the officiating ministers.

In the Greek Church, Confirmation is administered at the same time with, or as soon as possible after, baptism, even in the case of infants, it being considered perilous to die without it; and in the Latin Church also it is often administered to young children-the Church of Rome not considering a person a "complete Christian" till he has partaken of this

[ocr errors]

"sacrament." To reconcile this opinion with the salvation of children who die after baptism but before confirmation, or "committing actual sin," the Church of Rome has decided that they are confirmed by death, as they cannot sin afterwards. In our own country, five centuries ago, children were usually confirmed at the age of five years. The Council of Trent appointed from the age of seven to twelve; and a synod of Milan, in 1565, prohibited confirmation under seven years of age. The canon law fixes no time, but says "of perfect age;" which may be interpreted strictly or laxly. Our Church directs that the child shall be confirmed " so soon as he can say the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments in the vulgar tongue, and is further instructed in the Church Catechism set forth for that purpose.' This direction seems to contemplate only the simplest elementary knowledge, such as may be acquired by a little child; though under the words "further instructed" we may include, if we please, a whole body of divinity; so that the direction is indefinite both as to age and religious attainments. Bishop Gibson, to elucidate the words " years of discretion," in the Act 13, 14, Car. II., refers to Lyndwood's Gloss upon Archbishop Walter's Constitutions; which makes the proper age to be above seven and under fourteen. The earlier of these ages is assuredly too young by several years; but all our ritualists and canonists regard our Church as inclining to a tender age. Thus in reply to Bucer, who "finds fault with our Church for administering confirmation too soon," and says that none ought to be confirmed "who have not had opportunity of giving sufficient testimonies of their faith and desire of living to God by their life and conversation," Wheatly argues, that confirmation is administered "to assist them in manifesting their faith and practice, and is not to be deferred till these are already manifested." The rite, he says, is to guard them against sin, before they are exposed to temptation, "that so the Holy Spirit may take early possession of their youthful hearts, and prevent those sins to which, without His assistance, the very tenderness of their age would be apt to expose them." All that the Church demands, he adds, is, "that they should understand the nature and advantages of the rite, and the obligations it lays upon them." But this leaves the matter very much where it was; for little children cannot for the most part be expected to possess the requisite information and decision of mind for the profitable reception of the benefit.

Under these circumstances, the age of sixteen may perhaps be considered as fit an era as any in a young person's life for this edifying solemnity. This allows of instruction and probation; and if, as must usually be the case in practice, this minimum causes a further delay of some months or a year, the intervening time may be profitably spent in preparatory exercises for the heart and the understanding. But the present incertitude of opinion and practice among the Clergy is attended with many inconveniences; and it might be well if our Bishops would agree to recommend some particular age, subject to due and proper exceptions.


To the Editor of the Christian Observer.

IN your Review last month of Mr. Roberts's Collection of Letters, you observe that private confidential letters are often among the best ex

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »