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that William IV. succeeded him, Dissent had become a power in the State.
This, then, was the fatal drawback in the Evangelical movement, that except so far as it helped to revive religion in England, it did nothing to strengthen or reform the Church ; that contrariwise it gave an enormous impetus to Dissent, virtually creating it in Wales and developing it everywhere else, so that under its reign and through its influence more congregations seceded from the Church of England than individuals seceded to Rome under the Oxford movement.
Another great drawback is, that the Evangelical school, with all its professed love for the Bible, has done much less than the other two schools of thought, in bulk and value, for Biblical study and exposition, even the Broad Church party far surpassing it in this respect 9 And (what, perhaps, is stranger than all) this defect seems to be inherent in Churchof England Evangelicalism ; no book emanating from the Low Church party, from the time of Cranmer to the present day, has ever reached the dignity of an English Classic, or has ever secured continued esteem and demand amongst Evangelicals themselves. Every book of that school of theology which has held its ground has been of Dissenting
9 This is attested by any bibliographical inquiry into modern English theological publications.
or foreign Protestant origin; so that whilst Scott's Commentary is virtually dead, and Girdlestone's quite so, Matthew Henry's is still in esteem.
If the Church of England was not entirely to lapse into Dissent, or something worse, a revival was absolutely necessary. The ground which had been lost had to be gained back foot by foot, and inch by inch. The very people who had caused, or at any rate who aided, Dissent, themselves began to complain that the Church was not popular, and that the mass of the poor were to be found in the meeting-houses; and then they began to find fault with the Prayer-Book, and to clamour for “Revision,” whereas the fault lay at their own doors.
The strangest part of all is that the awakening of the Church from its slumbers had to be effected under the strongest opposition from the Evangelicals themselves. It certainly is a matter of wonder how people who were themselves notoriously breakers of every Rubric to which they objected, when it involved more trouble than they chose to undertake, should come forward as the accusers of their brethren, even if the latter did go beyond what the law actually required of them. If the Evangelicals did not like the practices of their opponents, why did not they put forward something better themselves ? Let us look back only a few years, and call to mind how the carrying out the plainest rubrics of the Church and more decent matters of ritual—daily Matins and Evensong, Saints’-day Services, more frequent communions, the destruction of unsightly galleries, opening churches to rich and poor alike, the preaching in a surplice, the use of the Credence-table, the restoration of churches-how one and all of these had to be fought for under as strong and even stronger opposition than what was some years afterwards displayed against Ritualism, from the very people who rendered the reforms necessary.