Page images
PDF
EPUB

at the present day but too little regarded, which Holy Scripture itself suggests, and against the undue indulgence of which it is itself the proper antidote, why we should be watching and waiting equally with the devout Jew before the Incarnation of CHRIST viz., because He Who once condescended to take upon Him the form of a servant, will yet come again in that same flesh glorified and with all His holy angels to receive His own unto Himself.

To this promised "appearing of the Great GOD our SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST" the Christian is commanded to be looking, as earnestly as those who "looked for consolation in Israel from His first advent." And not seldom it will happen, if this thought be heartily realized, that there will arise feelings of discontent in the mind, which "desires to depart and to be with CHRIST."

Here again then will be seen the beneficial use of Holy Scripture. As it is this which teaches us to be ever looking for the LORD's return, so is it the LORD's will that by "patience," wrought in us by the study of the same "Scriptures, we should have hope." For there we are enabled to see how so many generations of those who lived under the first covenant "received not the promise" in their own persons, but were content to die in the faith, assured that what God had promised He would also perform.

And this brings us back to, and explains the statement made above, that the declaration of S. Paul in this place, of the purpose for which Holy Scripture was given, is the only direct information vouchsafed to the Christian on this subject. And it shows us unmistakeably, that the object intended in this blessed Gift is not to teach doctrine to persons who are ignorant of it, but to give practical instruction to those who already know the truth by other means.

THE CARE OF THE POOR.

THE Church has always been especially the poor man's club. If Christianity had done nothing else for the good of mankind, it would be one attestation to the truth of its divine mission that it changed the relations of the poor. And it will be one great mark of "the times of the Gentiles being fulfilled," and of the final decadence of Christianity when the poor shall cease to be the Church's chiefest care, and when as in the case of infanticide, the evils connected with neglected pauperism shall be reproduced in these latter days. One of the first developements of Christianity was to provide a fund for the support of the poor-and when the Jewish temple and its sacrifices ceased to be, the more regular provisions of the tithe system embodied this as its most important object. And, what is very striking to find in the early ages of Christianity, tithe was not confined to land, but extended to gains

from every art, trade, or profession. Hence the clergy were the guardians of the poor-they had their Tax or poorhouses, their ξενοδοχεια or hotels, their νοσοκομεια or infirmaries, and their oρφαVOтgopa or orphan asylums. Of this we have still relics in those hospitals which have ecclesiastics as wardens, or masters. And as tithes in the middle ages, to a great extent, became the property of the monasteries, so the care of the poor devolved mainly on them. Thus Frankalmoigne, the terms of monastery holdings, indicates their obligation to give alms to the poor, just as eleemosynare is explained, dare in eleemosynam ecclesiæ, monasterio, vel pauperi. Hence every monastery had its relieving officer or almoner, as Bishops and Kings had theirs; and the phrase used pro singulorum meritis, (as each requires) in regard to the four objects of tithes, shows that tithes were not distributed in four equal parts, and that so far from either the wants of the clergy or the "exceeding magnifical" structures of the middle ages absorbing all the legal contributions of the Church, the poor were entitled to a high consideration in their distribution.

1

What the Christian fathers would have said to those who thought otherwise may be gathered from that saintly Bishop's act who sold even the sacred chalices that the Christian captives might be ransomed. But when the monasteries were dissolved, the poor were robbed as well as the Church, by the tithes passing into lay hands, or corporations. Then, and not till then, was it necessary to enact a poor law, and a church rate; as it is now, lay hands hold the sacred tithes, the most fearful of all sinecures. Parishes are to be found where the tithes no longer support the poor, or the worship of GOD, but either minister to self-indulgence and luxury, or have been mortgaged through dissoluteness and extravagance. Some of the districts which most suffered through the impoverished state of the Church, and former spoliation, are a standing attestation to the curse passed on the nation which should alienate the patrimony of the Church. There the poverty-stricken pastor continually falls a victim to labour and anxiety in striving to meet the wants of a population many times increased since the lay appropriation of GOD's fund.

But the question to be asked is not, what has the Church done of old for the poor, but what is she doing now? Tithes have been abolished by the state, so far as the practice of payment goes, but the state cannot abolish an eternal principle. In foro conscientiæ the Christian man cannot rest absolved from this unchangeable duty; and therefore, though it be true, that on present state principles it is most unjust to levy a poor-tax on the clergy to the full value of their rent-charge, while the great landlord pays but on three-fourths, and this too, while "art, trade, and profession,"

1 It is curious that in Queen Anne's reign it was seriously proposed in Parliament to restore to the Church her alienated property, on condition that she should resume the guardianship of the poor.

THE CARE OF THE POOR.

pay next to nothing-yet it is probable that the priest, who reflects that the poor are entitled, at least to a fourth part of his income derived from tithes, will not think himself hardly used, if in fact he by law is called upon to contribute only an eighth or less. On the other hand, it is unfair that vicars and rectors should be put on the same, footing. But though the state has abolished the tithe on land, yet there remains still the tithe from "art, trade, and profession." If this was once duly collected, there would yet be ample means, in a moneyed country like this, for performing the Church's office to the poor. As we have said, the rectors, lay or spiritual, do not contribute their just portion of tithe to the poor law board; and the balance of this, together with a portion of the money tithe in the parish, would go far to defray the cost of much that is done for the poor. The revival of the offertory in a degree has met this; but it is to be feared that few Church-people contribute as a duty. It is too often, even with the better class of them, more a voluntary offering than a tithe-unsystematic and irregular; and till the clergy see it to be their duty to inculcate on their flocks, the honouring of GOD with their substance, as much as with prayer and praise, it must be so.

Too many clergy would rather inconvenience themselves than appeal to the charity of their richer people, and so they neglect an occasion of instructing their flock in the duties appertaining to property. But given that they have a willing mind in their flocks -what then? As we have said, the state in its folly leaves all property untouched for charitable purposes except land. The wealthiest millionaire need pay nothing to the support of the poor, so far as modern poor-laws go-Here is a fund at once for the Church to direct and apply. The Church has, sadly enough, let the care of the poor go out of her bands. Let her now, before it be too late, make a last effort to regain a practical guardianship; not by bolstering up the abominable principle of the Law of Settlement, whereby the English labourer is chained like a Russian serf to the soil, and by no skill or industry can ever rise from the degradation to which he is consigned. This is done by those who, wellintentioned indeed, attempt to ameliorate the operations of poor law boards by doles from the offertory, and so help to keep down the price of labour, and to encourage the employer in the low wages he pays, and the country at large, in the continuance of a demoralising and debasing law.

But let the Church grasp the fact, that union workhouses are a huge failure. Already it is seen that they are not workhouses -for little or no work is done in them. They mess together infirmaries, asylums, lying-in hospitals, and schools. The error of this is seen in the fact, that the poor law board now advocate district schools being formed by combined unions, -as the only chance of educating pauper children without danger of contamination. Why do not clergymen combine to build as of

old, their almshouses, their lodging houses, their infirmaries, their orphanages and schools, and their penitentiaries? It is impossible that any good can come of the present union houses, either politically or Christianly speaking. The orderly and disorderly, the decent aged and the ribald grey-haired, the infirm respectable, and the diseased prostitute; the boy and girl learning to rap out oaths or lewd expressions from the society around them. What a picture is this? As one poor girl once expressed it to the writer-" Sir, I think a prison would be better than this place, for there there would be silence." And if to this, we add, service on Sunday often conducted in a dining hall, and the Eucharist never celebrated, save for the sick; we have a fair idea of the greatness of the emergency in which the clergy might recover their long-lost guardianship of the poor.

Let a number of clergy, say a rural deanery, combine-one parish might have the central asylum; another, the central school or orphanage; another, the central infirmary; another, the central poor or almshouse; another, the central penitentiary; this too, would diminish the local rates, and so set other sums free for carrying out other necessary objects. Nothing can be so wretched as for the honest old man or woman, or sick and distressed, to be driven to the union, where they are classed at once with the idle, the dissolute, and the profane, for though they sever husbands and wives, they sever not the matron from the prostitute. Sexual or age classification abounds usque ad nauseam, but moral classification there is none. Till something of this sort is done, the Church is contenting herself with shams and shadows, not grappling with the evils which frighten amateur commissioners and guardians. And still more, as in the case of rich rectories, she is fattening on the poor's own fund, and withholding from them their own; or it may be, giving in charity what they ought to have in wages. To suppose that a union chaplain can do more than patch up a rotten system, unless indeed he were master or warden, is perfectly absurd. To attempt to deal with individual souls in a crowded common room-with the lying-in penitentwith the sick and dying-or with the aged hardened-is next to impossible. On the other hand, how pleasant would be the honest old labourer's almshouse-life, beside the old church he frequented in his boyhood, with its daily services and communions-how sweet the poor child's training within the sanctuary of his mother-how touching the recall of the lost sheep in the district penitentiary. As it is, the life of a religious poor man in the union workhouse would be a positive purgatory without its purificative tendencies. No office of religion, except the Sunday Matins or Evensong once a week; the Holy Eucharist never, unless there happened to be a Communion of the Sick,-here is the staple of union workhouse religion; and at the last, the poor deceased is put into an undertaker's cart, and in the time of any mortality conveyed like a de

livery of parcels' company all over the district, and there buried, not where he lived, but where his settlement was, and often with no witness of his interment, save the ministering priest, the undertaker and the sexton. Can we wonder the poor shrink from the union house? But how is it that the clergy do not shrink from suffering their sheep and lambs to perish in them?

REVIEWS AND NOTICES.

History of the Christian Church and Sects from the earliest ages of Christianity. By the Rev. J. B. MARSDEN. London: Bentley. THIS professes to be a perfectly impartial book, and so Latitudinarianism may be, in all points but one-and that is in reference to the Faith of the Church. Here all its animosity is sure to be concentrated, and so it is here. Mr. Marsden is very charitable towards " Baptists," and "Behmenites," and other denominations. But when he comes to speak of "Anglo-Catholics," i.e., the agents in the present Church revival, whom he considers to be still increasing in numbers, his language is simply ludicrous. This is his conclusion.

Thus the Anglo-Catholic movement stands. It now involves a great political question fundamental to the English Constitution, and, in its present state, it seems impossible that it should long remain The alterna

tives which seem to lie before us at length are, either the secession of the Anglo-Catholics of Mr. Wilberforce's school, or a political revolution ;-for nothing less would that change be, whether brought about by force or statute law, which should deprive the Sovereign of these realms of his right to be 'in all cases ecclesiastical as well as civil within his dominions supreme.'

We know not what to marvel at most, the weakness or the wickedness of this paragraph.

Women as they are. By One of them. The interest which this work excites in the mind of the reader is not in the characters it describes, but in the author herself. As a philosophical romance, which it purports to be, the book is very defective, but it bears the mark in every line of a most earnest and spiritual mind which has plainly never been brought in contact with the truth in any tangible form, and which consequently displays a restlessness and longing, a vague doubting and questioning which it is touching to witness. We have no clue to the author of any kind, but we need no better revelation than her writings to tell us that she is one who has never been shown the "Old Paths,' that she may walk in them and learn peace. Very sincerely do we desire that she may find some one to guide her, weary as she plainly is of all her wandering, into the one safe fold-and if this wish is ever realized, she will be a great acquisition to the Church, for she has abundant capabilities wherewith to do good service if rightly directed.

[ocr errors]

In the "Churchman's Library we have an edition of Bishop Andrewes' Devotions, which as well for cheapness as for goodness of translation and arrangement, must certainly supersede all existing

« PreviousContinue »