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public, which in impenetrable somnolence endured it, and resented all interference with it. ... The actual state of things as to worship was bad beyond all parallel known to me in experience or reading. Our services were probably without a parallel in the world for their debasement. As they would have shocked a Brahmin or a Buddhist, so they could hardly have been endured in this country, had not the faculty of taste, and the perception of the seemly or unseemly, been as dead as the spirit of devotion. ... But of the general tone of the services in the Church of England at that time I do not hesitate to say, it was such as when carefully considered would have shocked not only an earnest Christian of whatever communion, but any sincere believer in God; any one who held that there was a Creator and Governor of the world, and that His creatures ought to worship Him m.”
We must bear in mind that this was the state of the Church during the fifty years of Evangelical ascendency. It would be unjust to attribute to the Evangelicals the whole blame of the lamentable condition of the Church, but pious, zealous, earnest men
m Enthusiasm was particularly dreaded. Archbishop Manners Sutton, in proposing at Lambeth the health of the newlyappointed Bishop of Calcutta, ended with the paternal advice : “Remember, my Lord Bishop, that your Primate on the day of your consecration defined your duty for you ;-that duty is to put down enthusiasm and to preach the Gospel.”
as they were, they were men neither of great intellect or learning so as to plan a scheme for themselves, or large-hearted enough to depart from the shibboleth of their party, so that a great part of the blame justly attaches to them. For those were days which required not only zeal and earnestness, but a large heart and a discerning and organizing intellect. The England of the early part of this century was not the England of a hundred years ago; Brindley had covered the land with canals, and Watt had developed the steam-engine; manufactures, which were to make England the workshop of the world, had taken the place of agriculture, as the staple of national industry; villages had swollen into towns and towns into cities.
It seems ungenerous narrowly to criticise and expose the defects of a movement which did much good, but which truth compels us to say did much harm also; for if on the one hand it infused vigour into the Church, and rendered the more Catholic revival (of which we shall treat in the next part) feasible, yet on the other it sanctioned a laxity of doctrine and discipline which, though thoroughly at variance with the spirit of our reformers, became deeply imbedded in the English constitution, and difficult to eradicate.
What, then, was the weak side of the Evangelical movement? It touched only one side of human nature, the devotional, to the exclusion of the artistic and intellectual; it centred religion upon a few vital truths, omitting others which were of equal importance. In preaching the unworthiness of man, the all-sufficient Sacrifice of Christ, the need of Justification by Faith, they did well, but they magnified the Atonement at the expense of the Incarnation, and accordingly left out of sight the whole conception of the Church as a divine society—the repository and guardian of the sacramental life. From the time when the Church was mainly under their influence, the separation between religion and learning, which is so serious a characteristic of the earlier part of the nineteenth century, may be dated-a separation which the deeper learning and freer sympathy of our own day has only been able partially to heal n.
The Evangelicals never troubled themselves (Mr. Simeon himself admitted it) about working on the lines, or according to the Rubrics, of the English Church. How the services were performed ; in however slovenly a manner; however unfitted they might be to the grandeur of the House of God; as to whether they were of the type of the Conventicle or of the Rubrics, they troubled themselves not at all. And yet it has always been, and even now is, the character of Evangelicals to imagine that they only are right, and their opponents overwhelmed
Wakeman, p. 113.
“ Do you
in darkness, and forms, and ceremonies. A member of the party once complained to a Bishop of a Clergyman overstepping the Rubrics. have Morning and Evening Prayer?” enquired the Bishop. “No," was the answer. “ Then the less you say about Rubrics the better," was the Bishop's verdict.
At the beginning of the present century Dissent had been increasing with rapid strides. Sherlock states o that at the end of the seventeenth century Nonconformists of all kinds were only in proportion of one to twenty of the population, at the death of George I. they were only one to twenty-five. In 1736 there were only six meeting-houses in North Wales, and thirty-five in the whole Principality, against 850 churches. Then came the movements under Wesley and Whitfield which, drifting away gradually from the Church, reanimated the languishing Nonconformity of the country, in which they were powerfully aided by the influence of Lady Huntingdon, whose numerous chaplains seceded and formed Independent and Baptist congregations. Dr. Cleaver, Bishop of Chester, in his Charge of 1790, complains of those who "sought the Orders of our Church with a view to set at defiance her ordinances, to depreciate her ministry, and to seduce her members into their unhallowed Conventicles,under the arrogant and false pretensions of being themselves exclusively Gospel-preachers.”
o “ Test Act Vindicated."
The Evangelical movement, by its neglect of the ordinances of the Church, and by confusing the boundary-lines between Church and Dissent, greatly increased the ranks of Nonconformity. Evangelical Clergymen frequently either became Dissenters themselves, or, as was sometimes the case, led their hearers to become Dissenters. No fewer than thirteen young men, converted by Venn, entered the Dissenting ministry, chiefly as Independents. Rowland Hill had his meeting-house in London, and only after being refused by six Bishops, obtained Deacon's Orders, and never attained to the Priesthood. Olney, with a population of 2,500, when Newton left it, swarmed with Antinomians and Dissenters P. Through such means, when by reason of the rapid growth of our manufactures, dense populations swarmed from the villages into the towns, and had not churches to attend nor Clergy to look after them, Dissent assumed vitality; the meetinghouses in Wales increased from thirty-five to one thousand ; at the beginning of the nineteenth century Nonconformity had grown from one twentyfifth to at least one fourth of the population ; when George IV. became King, Dissent, not the Church, was in possession of the large towns; by the time
p Ch. Quarterly Review, July, 1877.