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died like a dog, without the sacraments, and was refused Christian burial.
“ The clergy were exempt from secular jurisdiction. They claimed to be amenable only to spiritual judges. A robbar or a murderer had but to show that he had a clerk's qualifications, and he was allowed what was called benefit of clergy. His case was transferred to the Bishop's Court to an easy judge, who allowed him at once to compound.
“Such were the clergy in matters of this world. As religious instructors they appear in colours, if possible, less attractive. ... Religion, in the minds of ordinary people, meant that the keys of the other world were held by the clergy. If a man confessed regularly to his priest, received the sacrament, and was absolved, then all went well with him. His duties consisted in going to confession and to mass. If he committed sins, he was prescribed penances, which could be commuted for money. If he was sick, or ill at ease in his mind, he was recommended a pilgrimage-4 pilgrimage to a shrine or holy well, or to some wonder-working image, where, for due consideration, his case would be attended to. It was no use to go to a saint empty-handed. At a chapel in Saxony there was an image of a Virgin and child. If the worshipper came to it with a good, handsome offering, the child bowed, and was gracious; if the present were unsatisfactory, it turned away its head, and withheld its favours till the purse-strings were untied again. This German lady was afterwards found to be worked with wires and pulleys, and was kept as a curiosity in the cabinet of the Elector of Saxony.
" When a man died in communion he went to purgatory. Purgatory Pickpurse,' as our English Latimer called it: and a priest, if properly paid, could get him out. The masses for this purpose were paid for at so much a dozen, and for every mass so said so many years were struck off from the penal period.
"In Spain, even at this day, if anyone prays before a certain image so many hours, he can get off a hundred years of purgatory, or a thousand, or ten thousand. ....
“ Sadder than all else was the condition of the monasteries. The accounts of those institutions, as they existed in England and Germany at the time of their suppression, is so shocking that even impartial witnesses have hesitated to believe the reports which have come to us. . . . But no theory can explain away the accumulated testimony which comes to us-exactly alike- from so many sides and writers. We are not dependent upon evidence which Catholics can decline to receive. In the reign of our own Henry VII., the notorious corruption of some of the great abbeys in England brought them under the notice of the Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury, Cardinal Morton. The Archbishop, unable to meddle with them by his own authority, obtained the necessary powers from the Pope. He instituted a partial visitation in the neighbourhood of London, and the most malignant Protestant never drew such a picture of profligate brutality as Cardinal Morton left behind him in his Register, in a description of the great Abbey of St. Albans. I cannot, in a public lecture, give you the faintest idea of what it contains. The monks were bound to celibacy—that is to say, they were forbidden to marry. They were full-fed, idle, and sensual; of sin they thought only as something extremely pleasant, of which they could cleanse one another with a few mumbled words, as easily as they could wash their faces in a basin. And there I must leave the matter. Anybody who is curious for particulars may see the original account in . Morton's Register,' in the Archbishop's library at Lambeth.”*
"In the cloister,” said Luther, “rule the seven deadly sinscovetousness, lasciviousness, uncleanness, hate, envy, idleness, and a loathing of the service of God.”
A reformation of some kind has clearly become an overwhelming necessity. Corruption beyond a certain point becomes unendurable, and the sarcasms of Erasmus, and the celebrated “Letters of Obscure Men,” † also directed against the ignorance and vices of the monks and clergy, were symptoms of the revolt of humanity against the iniquities sheltered under the name of Christianity.
The darkest point of night is said to be immediately before the dawn. From what quarter the light was to break upon this darkness, and how, we shall endeavour to show.
arknesscom what ought is said der the
Past: PRESENT: FUTURE.
• “Short Studies," vol. i. p. 45. The poet Southey, who was residing in Portugal in 1801, mentions in his letters a monastery and a nunnery by name which were even then flagrant examples of the luxury, extravagance, ignorance, and gross immorality indicated above.
+ “Epistolæ Obscurarum Virorum."
It is not well that we should soon forget
Who views the present rightly, sees the past
We cannot sever from the life that is
The past is with us still, yet memory's voice
“ I give thee joy, the fruit of all in me
That wise or virtuous was; I give thee pain,
Fruit of my folly that with thee doth still remain. “ Thou wert my future, had I loved thee more,
Knowing how closely bound thou wert to me,
I might have given a nobler heritage to thee. “ Yet take my dowry, for though scant they seem,
The blessings which to thee are handed down,
Prove virtue wins her guerdon, love receives her crown. “ And if my folly doth o'ershadow thee,
Some light in darkness will thy steps attend,
DECLENSIONS IN THE MEMBERSHIP OF
METHODIST CHURCHES. The timely article of Mr. Hughes in the August Magazine deserves careful perusal and re-perusal by all Church authorities, for there is no fact more painful to all Christian, and especially Methodist, societies than that a far greater number of members are lost to us and to Christ than need be. The causes are, I believe, to a large extent preventable, and should be taken into the serious consideration of all our leaders and quarterly meetings. It is no uncommon thing for a minister, in his pastoral rounds, to meet with scores of people who have been members of Churches, but who from some cause or other, which they are utterly unable to define, have lost all desire for spiritual things, and whose state is far worse than before their professed conversion. What we have to consider, as a denomination -what, in fact, all Christian communities should consider-is, "Can we employ such means as shall successfully prevent the large number of discontinuances which is the most saddening column in our Conference Minutes ?"
It is no matter of conjecture that as the times, manners, and customs of the people change, and change rapidly, so must our modes of work and of dealing with those who attend on the ministry of the Gospel be made to meet these necessary changes. Unless we wish the Church to be handicapped by the world, we must be as wise in our generation as the children of this world are in theirs. It is, therefore, a duty forced upon all Chris. tian Churches to adopt instant and adequate means to reduce this sad leakage in our membership. There are two considerations which ought never to be lost sight of, viz., (1) the difficulty of re-convincing a backslider of his error and wandering; and (2) the fact that it is far better for a man never to have joined the Church at all than to connect and sever the connection, for “the last state of that man is worse than the first."
What, then, can be done to retain these hundreds and thousands, or a large proportion of them, in our Churches ? Perhaps our Church meetings are not as attractive as they might be. It is a fact, whether we like it or not, that the ordinary old-fashioned class-meetings do not occupy the position in Methodism they once occupied. There is no greater lover of the Methodist class-meeting than the writer of this paper, but in facing facts we must put aside all personal likes and preferences. More than 50 per cent. of our people habitually absent themselves from the class-meet. ing, and I have no hesitation in saying that from 15 to 20 per cent. of the remainder, to put it as mildly as possible, are by no means regular in their attendance. Doubtless, a large number of members are cut off from our fellowship on account of their continued absence from class. This arises partly from the laxity, and partly from the optional character of our rules. Our rule upon this matter is far from explicit, and there are many leaders' meetings that place an interpretation upon it utterly foreign to the meaning and intent of the framers. This is a matter that should not be overlooked. I am forced to say, however, that many class-meetings are more attractive now than they were formerly, for the recognition of the desirability of
change and variety in the conducting of the meetings has brought mora young people into sympathy and co-operation with the Church, while, let it not be forgotten, the older members, upon whose shoulders the burden of the Church has rested for years, find it inconvenient to attend the class, which would have been a thing unknown in their early days.
I am also a strong advocate for the public recognition of new members. This gives impressiveness and dignity to the profession of Christian membership. There are many Christian persons, we fear, who neither know when they are received nor when they are discontinued, and for lack of information are lost sight of. Our rules provide that all new members shall be presented with a copy of the abridged rales, but when is this attended to? It is, perhaps, worth suggesting in these days, when old-fashioned Methodism appears to be on the decline, that when a person is to be received into Church fellowship, he or she shall be informed of the fact by the leader or steward, at the same time giving the date and place of the next public recognition of members, and requesting attend. ance; and that at such public reception a copy of the abridged rules, in addition to a ticket, shall be presented to each member. I believe that by giving additional importance and dignity to our Christian membership, we should have less lapsing, and more stability and strength, in our Churches.
Another point we should never forget is, “ Have revivals as much to do with Church declensions as many would suppose ?” There is no doubt that some of the brightest and most stable Christians are the fruits of revival, and yet great care and discrimination should be used in making returns, either as members or probationers, after a revival. Many people believe, and perhaps rightly so, that the responsible heads of the Church are to blame for the numerous and sad declensions after a revival. The great work of a revival Mission is after the actual Mission services are over. The pastorate here is of immense value, and should be prosecuted with the greatest possible assiduity and energy. Every leader and officer of the Church, every teacher in the Sunday-school-in fact, every worker in the Church-should come to the help of the pastor, in systematic visitation of those who have professed to receive the blessing of pardon at the services. The reason why there are so many lapses six or nine months after a revival is because the Church settles down to its ordinary work in the full belief that the “new-born babes” ought to be able to walk without assistance, and if they don't the word goes forth, “I thought so; it is always the case after a revival." We are bound to admit, however, tha many professions of conversions at revivals are not real, but that is only admitting what is the case in every walk of life; but at the same time many who are discontinued after a revival might have been preserved to us if they had been fed, and taught, and lead, by those who can feed, and teach, and lead themselves. I am more convinced than ever that aggres. sive evangelistic and revival work can be done in closest connection with the regular, organised efforts of the Church. But, at the same time, I am perfectly aware that those agencies which are considered most suitable for the conversion of the people are by no means the best for conserving the work done. The conservation is as important as the conversion. It is of