« PreviousContinue »
When the anxiety of a large East End parish, with its twelve or thirteen thousand souls, is at all times so great, what must it be when it is aggravated by any season of special sickness or public distress ?
We are accustomed to hear so much of new Mission districts, and all their various necessities, that perhaps we hardly think as much as we ought to do of all the labour and anxiety involved in the patient continuance in well-doing through which a poor parish, when once established, has to maintain its work. How heavily these anxieties press upon the parochial clergyman may be judged from Mr. Sitwell's words: • What I most require at present is help towards the sum of £145 a year which I have to pay to the curates of St. Peter's and the Mission church. This is a perpetual burden. The income of the church is about £320 per annum. Without help I cannot maintain the machinery which is in work at present, and of course the church of St. Peter's, Stepney, is the centre of all. I do not see that it is possible for any incumbent of St. Peter's to keep the present work in action without help from the West End. I hope that I may be permitted not only to maintain, but to further develope the good work which God has given to me to do.'
How many clergymen in the East End of London are thus burdened with anxieties which they scarcely know how to meet? On how many does the weight press of an amount of work whose requirements it is hardly possible to meet, and for whose performance it is still less possible to provide? We once heard at London House such startling accounts of the poverty of these East End parishes, that were it possible to transcribe only a small portion of what was then related, our readers would scarcely think it credible that in any part of the great city such depths of distress could exist. True, it has been greatly increased of late by the depression from which every branch of trade has suffered; and this increase, it is to be hoped, may in the course of time subside ; but what must it be always to live and labour amongst it?
It is because our readers have manifested such warm and generous sympathy in the great Mission work now going on in the vast diocese of London, that we venture to commend to their attention the Bishop's words, and ask them to bestow a thought, a prayer, and an occasional gift, upon those poor East End parishes whose necessities have been thus set before us. Happily, there are many to whom no pleasure is so great as the pleasure of doing good; and it is in the power of many a resident in the West End of London, or inhabitant of the country, to enjoy that pleasure to the utmost by extending a helping hand to their poorer brethren in the east of London. How great would be the comfort, and how strong the encouragement, to every incumbent of an East End parish, if he knew that some one neighbourhood, or congregation, or family even, were henceforth to be his helpers, assisting to collect and contribute the requisite funds for carrying on the parochial work, and in many ways aiding him to bear the burden of anxiety which must otherwise press so heavily upon those to whom the care of so many thousands of souls is entrusted.
THE CHURCH CONGRESS OF 1868. Mr. Editor,
Although the newspapers have given ample and somewhat varied accounts of the late Congress, and although we hope for a full and accurate report before the end of the year, yet it seems as if something were wanting unless the younger members of the English Church are presented with some record of the meeting in their own peculiar periodical.
With great joy, yet with some trepidation, the Irish Church welcomed the promise that the Congress of 1868 should be held in Dublin, and all the arrangements were committed to those who conducted them to the satisfaction of all concerned, so that all was ready for the expected 29th of September : the subjects for each day arranged, and two written essays and several speakers appointed for each, allowing in each session a certain time for voluntary speakers who were not to exceed ten minutes. The place of meeting was the Exhibition Palace, erected about four years ago, and the number of members' tickets issued was upwards of 2,400.
To some of our young readers Dublin is less known than most of the cities of the Continent, and the sixty miles of sea present a rougher and more discouraging barrier than hundreds and thousands of miles of ocean, which surely cannot all be calmer than the Irish Channel. However, this formidable gulf is traversed, in some of the largest and best steamers in the British service, and the Bay of Dublin is reached in about three hours from the harbour of Holyhead ; and surely a fairer sight can scarcely be presented by the most favoured capitals of Europe; certainly not to those who love the combination of mountain and sea with the tokens of human habitation, refinement, and prosperity. The landing-place of the Holyhead steamers is six miles from the city of Dublin, and the whole intervening space is occupied by villas and terraces, sometimes standing apart, sometimes grouped into towns or villages; the granite, hewn from the neighbouring hills of Killiney, largely used in these buildings, giving to these marine residences one of the beauties of Edinburgh; white and glittering, with their church spires and their trees and gardens, they form a fair foreground to the grand mountain range which encloses them; these little towns are Kingstown, Monkstown, Blackrock, Booterstown, and Sandymount; and on the other side of Kingstown extend the villages and villas of Dalkey and Ballybreck, and the town of Bray, with its many church steeples, at the foot of the Wicklow mountains, and sending out its great promontory, Bray Head, to form the southern side of the bay; while beyond Dublin the shore is again studded in the same way by villages and detached residences, till it reaches the beautiful cliffs of Howth. All this extensive abode of wealth and taste has grown within the last half century; for when George IV., in 1821, left his parting tread to be commemorated by the change of name from Dunleary to Kingstown, his point de depart was a fishing village, resembling in all its characteristics those dirty neglected places, which newspapers and some periodicals continue still to describe as 'so Irish.'
On Tuesday morning, 29th of September, the Members of Congress assembled with a large congregation in St. Patrick's Cathedral; the original church on the same site was founded, it is said, by the saint himself in the fifth century, and the present edifice was built, in 1190, by Comyn, Archbishop of Dublin, so that for ages its arches have echoed the ascription of faith and praise, Thou art the King of Glory, O Christ ! and the voice of prayer has never ceased within its walls. Within the last five years this fine old church has been fully renovated and adorned at the sole expense of the late Sir Benjamin Guiness, a Dublin merchant; who thus, at a cost of more than £100,000, has bequeathed to his fellow citizens a noble memorial of an honest life, devoted to works of charity; while to his fellow worshippers he has restored a house of prayer consecrated by so many sacred associations.
The Cathedral contains about 5000; and on the occasion of the commencement of the Congress the crowd was very great; and none in that vast congregation can ever forget the thrilling power with which, in a low tone of silvery sweetness, the voice of Dean Magee sent to every ear and every heart the words he had selected for his opening address : 'And they beckoned unto their partners which were in the other ship that they should come and help them. If only the text had been spoken thus, the effect would have been to bind heart to heart of those who asked their brethren to help, and of the brethren who came in the hour of distress and perplexity; and the words became more and more impressive as he developed the circumstances of our great need of the strength and help which Christian sympathy can give.
There is no ornament in Dean Magee's rhetoric, save the sheen of his armour and the flash of his glittering spear, while he stands in the panoply of faith, wielding the sword of the Spirit, bright and keen and true in every touch; profound thought, spoken in words so accurately chosen, that each sentence would form a study, each expression containing a distinctive power, yet with a rapidity of idea and utterance that bears you along in the enjoyment of the conscious exercise of all your faculties, to accompany rather than follow the speaker.
As it was said by one who might be his rival if their noble powers were used in a less sacred cause-the eloquent Bishop of Derry- We cannot expect to hear a more perfect utterance until with unsealed ear we listen to the voices of the blessed.'
There was full choral service, and upwards of seven hundred persons partook of the Holy Communion-a fit commencement to such a meeting.
The members of Congress then adjourned to the concert-room of the Exhibition building, where about 2000 were present each day. On the platform were the Archbishop of Dublin, who presided on every occasion, and all the Irish Bishops with one exception; Irish clergymen of every class and from every part of the island, and many of our honoured English visitors; some of these last lamented the absence of their English brethren, and in their zealous kindness blamed those who had not come, while we could only feel thankful for those who did come, representative men of the Church in England, whose presence was hailed wherever they appeared ; and not only were the Bishop of Oxford, the Deans of Chester and Ely, Archdeacon Denison, Earl Nelson, and many others, welcomed as our guests, but the enthusiasm increased as they became known, so that their every appearance and every mention of their names was greeted with applause.
To praise the Bishop of Oxford would be almost as presumptuous as to criticize him, but to those who have any idea of the brilliancy of his intellectual powers, and the fascination of his eloquence, it will be enough to say that admiration for these gifts was almost absorbed in the sense of his kindness and the permeating influence of his Christian sympathy. The impression left on every mind was less of his greatness than his goodness; less of the music of his surpassing oratory than of the kindness with which it was employed; a good man' in the full sense in which that word is used in describing St. Barnabas, the son of consolation! The object of these meetings is to let Churchmen of all shades of opinion express their minds freely, in the confidence of brotherly love; there was no suppression of each man's private views, neither was there that spurious candour which proceeds from indifference, nor that false charity which nullifies distinctive truth; but each spoke out his own view of the subject under discussion ; and if on any occasion there seemed a danger that an opponent might inisunderstand or exaggerate that view; if, as so often happens with honest men, the view was made too prominent just because it was not popular, and he who held it wished therefore to avow it more strongly, a few gracious words from that most loveable Pastor of the Churches at once produced harmony, not by explaining away what was said, but by shewing the portion of truth it contained, and by making it felt that Christian love is greater, deeper, wider, than human opinion; that among those who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity, the difference is only in opinion, not deeper.
The subject of the first session was, “Our religious societies, how their economical and efficient working may best be promoted,' discussed by the Attorney-General for Ireland, Rev. Charles Rice, J. E. Gorst, M. P. for Cambridge, the Rev. Maurice Day, Dean of Limerick, and others; some speakers advocated the centralization of the different missionary societies and of some others as a measure of economy; while others, and this seemed the general feeling, objected that where there exist so many shades of opinion and so many peculiar interests and attractions, there ought to be scope for each in its own direction ; thus, one may care most for the heathen, another for the colonies, and if the two great societies which have these respectively for their chief object, the Church Missionary Society and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, were combined, many who prefer one to the other might be alienated from both, or alienated by some small prejudice against one or the other. On one point all were agreed; that the duty of almsgiving and the necessity of self-denial for the fulfilment of that duty are very little appreciated.
The second discussion was on “Hindrances at home and abroad to the progress of missions ;' and the evening session, from 7 till 9.30, was devoted to “The relative functions of Church and State in national education. After a paper by the Rev. R. Gregory, (from London,) the appointed speakers were the Venerable Archdeacon Denison, the Dean of Limerick and Dean Byrne; the aged Bishop of Cashel and Dr. Webster spoke on opposite sides; and the Bishop of Oxford and Lord Oranmore. This is a question which above all others must admit of difference of opinion among conscientious men; and our English friends are not in a position to see the points of view from which it is regarded, on opposite sides, and with intense earnestness on each, by the clergy of Ireland ; to whose honour be it spoken that they fearlessly and boldly maintain their own convictions on the subject, though each party is in turn subjected to the disapproval of the ruling powers; though one is always disapproved by a large political body, and suffers the loss of Government aid for their schools; while the other has to endure the severer penalty of incurring censure and suspicion from many whose esteem they value, and of misrepresentation or misapprehension from many more; but as this subject could not be fairly discussed even in a lengthened session of the Church Congress, we shall not attempt to give an abstract of it here.
Wednesday morning, 30th of September, opened with the subject of Church work and Church life in Ireland.' The very Rev. John Macdonnell, Dean of Cashel, took as his ground the parishes of Leinster and Munster, with which he is best acquainted, and showed at once the difficulties of the clergyman who ministers to a scanty Protestant population scattered over a wide extent of country, and surrounded by the influences of Romanism in its grossest form ; and the great importance of that painful work in keeping together these scattered sheep, in ministering to people who love their Church, who are most regular in their attendance on all her ordinances, and whose children are growing up in the principles of faith toward God and loyalty and fidelity towards men, which Holy Scripture alone can teach.
In his own Cathedral of Cashel there is a tine choir and daily service, so that the worship of God in its purity is ceaselessly maintained there; and deeply is it to be regretted that there is not a larger number of the Reformed Church ; it is cause of thanksgiving that the lamp of truth is kept burning, whether men walk by it or not.
The Dean was followed by the Rer. A. Irwin, of Armagh, who showed by statistics evidences of the present work and life of the Church in Ireland, especially in the northern province; the number of churches multiplying year by year, and filled as quickly as they are built or enlarged; the improvement in Church music, by which
the solo of the clerk' has become extinct; the munificent contributions to all religions purposes by the resident gentry of our communion; the Sunday school, which is the delight of our children, while we hear that in England it is a weariness; where rich and poor meet together, the children of the landlord and the labourer sit side by side and receive the same instruction; differing also from the English schools in the shorter time as well as the more exclusively religious character of the lesson, for ours close before the morning service, to which the children accompany their parents and friends.
This Sunday school institution extends all over Ireland, and its influence for good has been largely carried into the Colonies, and is continued through the lives of both teachers and pupils. Mr. Irwin also spoke of the care of the Irish Church over her orphan children; there are thirty-five local Protestant orphan societies, well supported by local contributions, by which the orphans are placed, not in asylums, but in the homes of worthy families of their own class, and under the immediate care of the parochial clergy, so that home feeling and religious training are secured to them all over Ireland. It is impossible to give statistics from memory, but when Mr. Irwin's valuable paper comes to be printed, it will be seen that whatever be the deficiencies of the Church in Ireland, it abounds in ‘liberal things,' in charitable institutions, and voluntary labours of love and faith.
The Hon. and Rev. W. Plunket spoke of the province of Connaught, with which he is especially connected; of the work of conversion accomplished there chiefly through the restoration to the people of the Scriptures in the Irish language; a gift which was withheld from them when at the Reformation the Bible was translated into almost every other European tongue.
Perhaps no speech during the Congress has left an impression so touching and so abiding as that which followed these able addresses. The Rev. Henry Jellett spoke from his own experience of the difficulty of maintaining Church life and work in those remote parishes, where severed from all kindred society the lonely pastor lives for the scattered few-those few sheep in the wilderness—who form his flock. With a depth of unconscious pathos he described, or rather he made his audience feel, what is the position of an educated man, of intellect and refinement, burning with zeal, filled with high aspirations, and enlarged ideas of what a man might do, shut up in a situation where all his effort is to suppress himself sufficiently to bring himself within reach of his hearers; where all his powers of organization are employed in managing to work with individuals what ought to be done with masses; the difficulty, the painful difficulty of preaching at least one hundred and four sermons annually, and that year after year to the same congregation, and that so small that whatever is practical seems a personal attack upon someone, whatever is doctrinal is a correction or a rebuke of the opinion of some individual, or seems to have already been put in every shape they are capable of receiving; and yet, while thus he feels he is doing nothing-—his energies going to waste-yet he is bound to the one spot, so that to hear a sermon from another is a mental and spiritual festival of rare occurrence, while his studies are discouraged by the want of sympathy and the absence of any object to which to apply them, and hindered by the ceaseless petty cares for the temporal wants and small concerns and petty grievances of the few who accept his ministry, and of the many who, while they reject it and refuse to acknowledge him as a religious teacher, yet lean upon him as the resident gentleman, on whom they have a claim for all and more than he can give. “It is not work, it is worry that wears & man out.'
The picture was such as to thrill every heart with an intense perception of its mournful truthfulness; one felt that it was a life-long exercise of the painful position of Elijah, when he stretched himself upon the child, his mouth upon his mouth, his hands upon his hands, his feet upon his feet, crushing up the manly frame to the dimensions of childhood; and one could only pray that signs of returning vitality may reward the effort; one could not but think of such a man as this—and there are many such cases-buried in the busy inaction of such a life; and yet, that it is from the buried seed the harvest is to spring. Nevertheless, the question does arise, Is such a sacrifice necessary while the Church has need of all the powers of all her best sons? and might not a well-regulated itinerancy supply as well, perhaps better, the wants of such localities ? Meanwhile, such are the men, and such the position, of which our enemies speak as idlers in the midst of luxury which they do not earn !
The Rev. George Salmon, Professor of Divinity, whose every appearance was hailed with enthusiasm, spoke of the hindrances that exist to a cordial sympathy between the English and Irish branches of the Church : in England, the great object