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of religion ! Nothing is easier, it is said, than to obtain and excite public audiences, which assemble and then disperse, leaving matters just where they were ; they are no test whatever. Now this is either childishness or mendacity-in the one case to be pitied, and in the other contemned. It is a species of logic which would prove anything; and, in this instance, proves a great deal too much-seeing that it cuts away the ground from under the objectors themselves, who rely on precisely the same species of evidence as indicating the progress of pet projects of their own! To suppose it possible that, in hundreds of public meetings, vital principles, such as are involved in this controversy, have been expounded, in many cases with distinguished ability, and in all with earnestness, and at a time peculiarly adapted to predispose men in their favour, and that, notwithstanding, no advance has been made in the work of public enlightenment, is to give proof of an utter want of faith in the power of truth, and an equal absence of capacity for aught but a blind leadership of the blind. We think it difficult to evade the force of the following passage from the Report :
The Committee feel justified in asserting, that upon no public question whatever have there been gathered together a greater number of large and enthusiastic public assemblies than have been convened on this question during the last three years. Thus much they could not always allege—for where thousands have been recently assembled, hundreds only were once present; and where suecess has now been complete, there had not unfrequently been previous failure. Without, therefore, attaching to them undue importance, and still less accepting them as precursors of an early triumph, they may yet be regarded as are similar demonstrations in connexion with other public movements -as clearly indicating that the British people are prepared to enter upon the full discussion, with a view to the ultimate settlement, of this great question.'
The proceedings of the Committee in relation to legislative movements are next adverted to. On two occasions they have vindicated the integrity and consistency of the Dissenting body by resisting, in the House of Commons, the Parliamentary grant, known as the Regium Donum, and these emphatic protests are to be, if needful, again and again repeated. colqining the
* The Committee promptly acted upon the information received by them in the year 1848, that a long-rumoured measure for the endowment of the Roman Catholie clergy of Ireland was about to be sub mitted to the legislature; publicly declaring their determination to meet such a proposal with the most resolute hostility, and, in doing so, to occupy, as a broad ground of opposition, the fundamental principle of the Association. To whatever cause the abandonment of their intention by the Government is to be attributed, the discussion which took place on the question undoubtedly exercised à decided influence in giving a right direction to public opinion, and in establishing a principle
of action on the part of Anti-state-churchmen, from which they are not likely to depart on any future occasion.'
They have further availed themselves of the opportunity of testing the sincerity of those members of Parliament who, at the last election, professed opposition to any extension of the system of ecclesiastical endowments, by opposing those clauses of the South Australian Colonies Bill, by which grants for ecclesiastical purposes are, however slightly, increased, and cannot be discontinued by the Colonial legislatures without the consent of the Home Government In doing this, they have failed to accomplish more than give seasonable expression to their principles.
The subject of the Irish Church Establishment has been brought forward with increased prominency, and but for the contemptuous waywardness of the member for Sheffield, would have been made the object of a specific and vigorous agitation. The work of petitioning on the general question has also been commenced, and is now to be carried on with increased energy, as tending to familiarize the minds of the public, and of our legislators, with the idea that this question must eventually be the subject of a decisive conflict, the arena of which will be the British House of Commons.'
We attach considerable importance to what may be designated the political department of the society's labours. If voluntaryism be an abstraction, its opposite is by no means such; but, on the contrary, is continually developing itself in new and tangible mischiefs. Dissenters have, therefore, to wage a double warfare ; to uproot established evils, and to resist their growth and multiplication. Now, it must, we think, be admitted, that there have been occasions when, to serve a temporary purpose, they have been content to keep their principles somewhat in the background, and when in united committees, and in deputations to Downing-street, Nonconformity has been exposed to grievous misrepresentation. We are glad to believe that there now exists but little likelihood of a repetition of such mistakes; and at all events, that while the Anti-state-church Association exists, and pursues its présent decided course, the trumpet will give no uncertain sound. Whatever may be the prospect of success, right principles will be rigidly adhered to, and boldly advocated.
One of the most interesting features of the Report, is the bird's-eye view it gives of the internal conflicts which have been going on in the Establishment during the last three years, to the influence of which, it is freely acknowledged that the Association is mainly indebted for the prominence of its present position. We quote the reference to the zealous and courageous labours of Mr. Horsman, to obtain a reform of the
Establishment,' for the sake of the sentence with which the paragraph closes :
His pertinacious inquiries have exposed prelatic and clerical greediness in its full proportions--have exhibited the dignitaries of the Establishment as the unscrupulous conservators of the corruptions which impair its efficiency as a professedly religious institution-have proved how large a portion of its revenues are devoted to no religious useand have gone far to demonstrate the inefficacy of all corrective measures for the removal of abuses which are essentially connected with the existence of a Church established by, and worked by the machinery of, civil government. Deeply do the Committee regret at such a crisis the absence of a band of men, however small, in the House of Commons, who, on such topics, and on all suitable occasions, would give bold and full expression to the great truths which they are charged with enunciating, and would avail themselves of occurrences so favourable for the inculcation of sound views on the subject of politicoecclesiastical legislation, as those which have, during the last three years, so largely occupied the public mind.'
But while Anti-state-churchmen are hopeful, they are also sufficiently sober-minded to estimate the real magnitude of the work on which they have entered, and hence the Committee conclude this portion of their Report in the following cautionary terms :
But, gentlemen, gratifying as is this survey of public affairs, you would but ill discern the signs of the times in concluding that your hand may now be slackened as in prospect of an easy victory. Auspicious as are these occurrences, they are chiefly valuable as opportunities to be turned to good account by vigilance and activity. The State Church in this country is an institution which will not be allowed to fall without a struggle more or less lengthened and severe. Indications of weakness will stimulate its supporters to renewed efforts to prolong its existence. Its decaying walls will be buttressed up by new erections, and even reformatory measures will be so skilfully modified as to open fresh sources of emolument and confirm exclusive privileges. Hence it should be regarded as the special duty of earnest Anti-statechurchmen to cast the seeds of truth into the wide breadth of soil now first broken up-to give a right tone to new national movements—to prevent the resettlement of the question of State Churches on any other than a sound and solid basis—and to render it impossible for ecclesiastical hierarchs or worldly statesmen to erect on the ruins of the present system one which, while less repulsive in its deformity, will yet indefinitely postpone the great reform upon which their hearts are fully set.'
It is this continuous struggling, this growing intensity, this ever-varying form of difficulty and danger, which tries men's souls. They who have wearied of but six years of working and waiting, have, perhaps, shown their wisdom most in abandoning what was clearly never their mission—they went
out from us, because they were not of us.' The men at the head of this movement are made of sterner stuff,' and their associates, as we confidently believe, are largely imbued with their spirit. We envy not the man who could hear unmoved the impressive language in which Mr. Miall addressed the delegates shortly after the opening of the Conference :
'I do trust, at all events, that this Conference is not in pursuit of success as its object, but is in the prosecution of its duty. I know not
any Christian man can laudably, and in a right spirit and tone of mind, pursue a Christian duty, who sits down and begins to calculate, as the very basis of his resolution, what are the difficulties with which he will have to contend. I hope that we shall never cast a false glare of allurement over our enterprise. Let us have none of those who are simply caught by glare and sunshine. We want earnest men, for we shall have earnest work to do. This is but just the beginningthe struggle is at hand. Let those who are not prepared for disgrace leave us here. Let those who are not prepared to buckle up for work leave us now. Depend upon it, ours has been hitherto mere child's play. It is when our blows are felt, when our enemy is provoked, we shall begin to feel the hardness of the struggle. When customers will be lost—when the frown of respectable ladies must be met—when Sabbath evening hearers must, if necessary, be given up-when every form of petty persecution will be employed to break down the spirit of those who are engaged in the advocacy or support of this workit is then we shall find of what stuff our hearts are made. If we have not got a deep, earnest persuasion of the truth of the principles of this Association-if we cannot lay hold, with the firm grasp of faith, on whatever has been promised by the Head of the Church to those who, on behalf of truth, are willing to give diligence, and self-denial, and exertion—if we cannot simply confide ourselves to the bare word of God-we had better leave off now.'
Here we should close, but a fierce onslaught has recently been made on the Association, to which we must briefly advert. We do so reluctantly. There are, however, occasions when force must be put on inclination at the stern call of duty. Such an one has just occurred in connexion with the Anti-state-church Association, and it will be for the healthy conduct of our ecclesiastical affairs that it should be duly noted. It is now nearly thirty years since we entered into public life. We have been thrown amongst men of all shades of opinion, and have not been wholly unobservant of what was passing around us. We have seen much to deplore. Many things have pained us, and a sickening sense of human presumption and infirmity has occasionally taken possession of our minds. Yet we deliberately affirm, that we have rarely seen, in connexion with a religious profession, anything equal to the recklessness, arrogance, gross misstatements, and palpable inconsistencies, which have been evinced by the editor of the British Banner,' in relation to the Anti-state-church society. We pity, from our very soul, the man who is subject to such gusts of passion, and would gladly leave him to the oblivion to which he is consigning himself, did we not feel that a bad example is infectious, and that some, possibly, may yet be influenced for evil by the presumption, spleen, and untruthfulness he has exhibited.* We shall, therefore, dwell for a few moments on the unattractive theme, with a view of exposing the spirit of this attack, and of thus guarding the public against the future mischief which may threaten from the same quarter,
We need not attempt to vindicate the Association. The Conference recently held has done this triumphantly. The assault was fierce. It was intended to be deadly. It was the movement, of an incensed and bitter enemy, whose virulence was infinitely greater than his power. It was from no merciful purpose, but from sheer inability, that the thrust did not prove fatal. The editor of the British Banner' mistook, in truth, his position. With characteristic modesty he imagined that the hearts of the country were in his keeping, and that he had only to announce, in his own peculiar style, We no longer stand identified with the Anti-state-church Association, to induce thousands to desert its ranks, and leave bare the place of its gathering. Happily, the Nonconformists of Britain knew their principles better, and they bestirred themselves accordingly. What they did, and the manner in which they did it, are matters of history, and will be rightly appreciated when the petty vanities and insufferable arrogance of would-be-leaders are held in merited contempt. The palpable inconsistencies of the assault are most marvellous. On the third of April, an article appeared in the ‘Banner,' which every reader understood to be an attack on the society. It announced, in capitals, the important fact of the editor's secession; sought to awaken the fears of the timid, by proclaiming the existence of' a school of anarchy;' described Mr. Miall and Dr. Price as the arch-heretics; and more than insinuated that the influence of the Association was employed by them for evil. And all this was done, be it remembered, without one syllable of complaint having been addressed to the society, much less to the gentlemen named. Dr. Campbell was a member of the Committee up to the very time he became a public assailant; but such are his notions of propriety, that he preserved profound silence where he ought
• There is much truth-far too much to be readily forgiven-in what the editor of the Baptist Magazine' said in 1845, 'that it is not the destiny of the editor of the - Christian Witness" to be written down by any other pen than his own.'-Baptist Magazino, 1845, p. 198. Dr. Campbell has laboured hard of late to accomplish this prediction. With a self-sacrifice not often witnessed, he has sought to place beyond doubt the sagacity and truth of his brother editor's vaticination.