CHURCH EXTENSION IN
WE preface this volume by a brief sketch of Church
Extension in Scotland.
At its commencement in 1834, there had only been added 66 unendowed places of worship during the whole of the past and present century. These generally were built at the expense of their respective congregations, who, so long as the original cost was unpaid, had to defray the interest of the debt in the form of a higher seatrent.
The benefit of the new erections from 1834 is that they are raised by gratuitous subscription, so as that their expense forms no charge on the seatrent, which, in virtue of being somewhat lower than before, admits of a lower descent, among a more destitute and hitherto neglected population.
It is obvious that we shall not by this expedient alone be enabled to overtake all or even the greater part of our outcast families. Beside the want of churches, there is a distinct and additional, and withal most urgent want, which, even on the supposition that the architecture of all the fabrics were completed, would continue unprovided for. Our great aim in these gratuitous erections is, that the people may, pro tanto, be relieved of the price they should otherwise be compelled to pay for their Church Accommodation yet the whole amount of this relief, averagely speaking, would not exceed one shilling on each individual sitting, leaving still, in the maintenance of the clergyman and other annual expenses, the necessity of a rent far too high and heavy for the cirumstances of the general population.
After that we have overcome one obstacle by the erection of a church in any given neighbourhood, we feel as if brought, into nearer contact with another and more formidable obstacle which stands behind it; and that, till this is removed, we have scarcely made any sensible advance towards the great end of a universal Christian education for the common people. .What we aim at is not accommodation only, but cheap accommodation so cheap as to congregate the lower orders in the house of God, not by individuals only, but to congregate them in families, that the men of. handicraft and hard labour, instead of being scarcely, as now, in circumstances for attending singly, may be enabled to possess themselves of whole pews, both for themselves and for their children. We shall never be able to achieve this while the produce of the seat. rents forms the only fund out of which to support the clergyman; and unless this be helped at least from some other quarter than the means of the people themselves, we despair of ever conducting our establishment back again to that ,state of efficiency which it had in other days, when it found its way into the bosom of every household, and opened its solemn assemblies to all the population.
To provide churches is but the commencement of our enterprise, the first and I would say the shortest step towards a full and right accommodation for the working classes of society. The next and greatest step is to relieve the people of the annual charges which are necessarily attendant on the service of the churches. The first, we hope, may be done by private exertion. For the second we look to the more powerful hand of a Christian and paternal government a government that will regard the prevention of disorder and crime as an object worthier of its price, than is the punishment of these; or rather that looks upon the spread of intelligence and virtue among the people as the highest aim of true patriotism, and altogether worthy of the fostering care of the rulers of the commonwealth.
When conducting our investigation into the wants of any given neighbourhood, we, in addition to the two questions generally put, and which are confined to the two elements of the population and the churchroom, made further inquiries, both as to the distance of large bodies of householders from their places of worship; and, most important of all, in its application to large towns, the proportion in given localities between the number of the people and the number of seatholders among them of all denominations, in and out of the Establishment. With these two articles of information, we are enabled effectually to expose the egregious fallacy of those who reason against the extension of our church, because of superfluous churchroom or unlet sittings, whether in the Establishment or among the Dissenters. For, first, when the people are too distant from church, it is of no earthly consequence ,to be told that there is superfluous accommodation twenty miles off from them. Theirs at least is a case of unambiguous necessity; and we are not so ravenously set on more churches as to desire the erection of one in any particular instance, save when the real and practical destitutioñ of the families in that, as in every other instance, is clearly and unequivocally made out.
And, in like manner, when in some plebeian district of a town we have ascertained that there are but a hundred seatholders of all denominations among a thousand people, we hold it an empty consolation to be told of the pews unrented and the pews unoccupied, whether in the churches or meetinghouses of its own immediate vicinity. We shall find in every example of such a melancholy disproportion between the number of people and the number of churchgoers, that there is the operation of one or other or both of these two causes first, a higher seatrent than is suited to the circumstances of the families; and, secondly, a want, due in most cases to the impossibility, of an adequate pastoral superintendence. The number of people who should go to a place of worship, yet go nowhere, does not indicate the number, be it great or small, of sittings which have been provided, or the amount of good that in this way has been done for the families. But it distinctly indicates, what alone is of importance to our object, the amount of good that, has been left undone; and which, we add, will never be accomplished while the two causes now specified remain in operation.
In other words, we shall never make head against the accumulating profligacy and irreligian of our cities, but with seatrents low enough for the admission of the working classes; and with parishes small enough to allow a thorough visitation of each assigned locality by the minister and his coadjutors in the eldership, whose frequent assiduities may at length earn, for them a moral ascendancy over the now alienated families being, on the one hand, the very facilities which it is the great design. of an establishment to provide; and, on the other, the very forces which a territorial establishment akme can bring, to bear upon them.
These household surveys form the best weapons by which to fight the question of a religious establishment, and to carry it. They, in the first instance, give now ample demonstration of the impotency of the voluntary system, which, after having put forth its unfettered energies for several generations, has left in every town of greatly increased population the vast majority of the working classes unprovided for. Let us hope that afterwards, they will, in consequence of our wellfilled plebeian churches, these unfailing accompaniments of our wellcultivated districts, give alike ample demonstration, of the efficiency of an Establishment.
We have already said, that, by our scheme of Church Extension, the work is partitioned between the church or country, and the Government the former party providing the fabrics; the latter solicited, and we hope at length prevailed upon, to grant an endowment for the maintenance of the clergymen. There is a disposition, we fear, too prevalent, on the part even of the Churchs best friends, to do nothing for her extension until they see what Government is to do. This, we hold, both in respect of principle and of sound policy, to be a sad inversion of the right process. At this rate it were altogether at the decision of, any Government, however careless,: or contemptuous of religion it might.be, whether the measures of the Church for advancing the kingdom .and the gospel of Jesus Christ, should be permitted to go forward or have an arrest laid upon them.. Hers, is the sacred, the paramount duty, and no earthly power can cancel it, to preach the gospel to every, creature, or to be instant, in season and out of season, that the means, should be provided of, so preaching it.
This is the undoubted principle of the question; and as it will ever be found in the longrun, that sound principle and sound policy are at one, so in regard to the present case, we can have no doubt, that if the Church, in the first instance, will do all they can, Government in the second will do all they ought. Every new erection is pro tanto a contribution to the great object,; and we repeat that the multiplication of these will prove the patent way to the endowment of them. If the Church will but do what she might, the cause must gather in strength and in public support every day, and, in the momentum,of its progress, will carry the general mind of society, and with this will carry the government, then relieved of perplexity, along with it.
Let us even hope that the enemies of the Church will abate of their virulence; nor can we look upon the approximations that are now making without reading in them the symptoms of that great consummation when men who are now at one in their theology, or at one in their doctrine, will become one in communion and in spirit also. Would to Heaven, that in the establishment of a universal concord, these warring elements were at length harmonized, and that the church, comprehensive of all who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, were, under the fostering countenance of a Christian and paternal Government which cared for these things, enabled to give of her lessons to the poorest of the land, and so to deal forth the bread of life to all the population.
But, it is easier to calculate the way of a planet in the firmament, than of a particle of water when borne downward in a running stream, or set adrift among the waves and currents of the restless ocean. This arises from the greater complexity as well as uncertainty of the forces which are concerned in the one movement than in the other; and it is of importance to remark, that, in attempting to calculate the events and the movements which take place in the moral world, we feel ourselves more placed among the difficulties of, the former than of the latter investigation, owing to the innumerable and unseen forces which operate throughout the mass of human society. This is nowhere so forcibly exemplified as in the busy metropolis, that awful vortex, where the passions and the prejudices, and the various partizanships of a whole empire are concentred, and form into an eddying whirl in which alike both rulers and subjects seem as if borne helplessly along. Nothing can be fancied more baffling to all human prescience than the future and final results of this mighty agitation this conflict of many men and many minds, with the countless diversity of views and interests and feelings by which they are actuated. But it should at once humble and comfort us to recollect that, while so little can be foreseen by man, and is foreseen and directed by God whose promise and whose prophecy it is, that the indestructible Church of Christ, like the ark borne aloft in safety and triumph among the waters of the deluge, will survive all the, storms which might be raised for its overthrow.
But the prophecies which have come down to us from Heaven do not supersede, they ought to guide and to stimulate, the prayers which ascend to it from earth. There are difficulties which no human wisdom can surmount; but there are none from which we might not find a refuge in the confidence and in the exercises of piety. He who is Governor among the nations He who stilleth the tumults of the people He in whose hand the heart of the king is as rivers of water, and He turneth it whithersoever He will. He who reigns paramount in the moral as in the material universeean, in virtue of His sovereign command over the springs of a mechanism to us inscrutable, make all things work together for good to those who love and who trust in Him.
In the first year of Church Extension in Scotland, or from May 1834, to May 1835, the sums raised both local and general exceeded £60,000. In the second year the revenue fell to about £32,000. This did not discourage us, for we counted on the effect that might arise from the subsidence of novelty. And at all events,, our hopes could not fail to be recovered by the result of the third year, which enabled us to report to the Assembly of 1837, an income for the preceding twelvemonth of £59,311. 6s.; and a total subscription of £159,997. 10s. 5d. from the commencement of the scheme. This statement of facts ought to silence the contemptuous imputation that has sometimes been preferred against us, as if ours too were one of this ages passing novelties a fond and sanguine dream of enthusiasm one of those magical illusions which charm the eye of the public for a season, but at length would, at the bidding of wise and sober experience, be consigped, with the other splendid deceits,whieh have gone before it, to its own place in the land of Utopia. If this, indeed, be a vain enterprise, there are yet no syrnptoms of its speedy dissipation. Were it but one of the follies or the phantoms of an idle speculation, the men of ow shrewd utilitarian age would by this time have found it out; nor would they continue to give, and to give increasingly in support of it. A mere imagination would not have called forth such costly and substantial offerings; and to our minds it enhances this conclusion, when we look to the superiority of the, local over the general contributions in support of our cause.
It is not to a magnificent and high sounding gentility that our countrymen are doing all this homage. With the great majority of our subscribers it is not even the good of the nation which is present to their thoughts, but the good of their own little vicinity, all whose wants and whose statistics have been thoroughly ascertained. It is not for Church Extension in Scotland that their liberality is drawn out, but for a church in their own destitute village, or in the city district of some few plebeian streets, teeming with the families of a heretofore neglected population. In other words, it is not any seducing or sublime generalization which operates on the fancies of these men; it is a near and besetting reality at their very doors, which has operated so powerfully on their senses; and what they give is given under the impression of a practical acknowledged specific and homefelt necessity, that forces itself on their distinct and daily observation.
It is true that our cause has now attained a national magnitude, and earned a place for itself in the councils and in the deliberations of the empire. But this result universal has only been come at, first by a laborious verification, and then by a summation of particulars. If we now carry along with us the voice of the kingdom, it is the fruit of anterior and hardwon achievements, done separately and in detail, in so many of our parishes. The philanthropy for which we plead is based on materials as solid as is the experimental philosophy of modern times. We have not descended from any hypothetical or a priori attitude, and then gone forth with a detail of marvels among the people; but we have collected the findings of the people from all quarters of the land, and, reducing these to one summary expression, we can now tell the legislature, of a nations wants and a nations prayers not the utterance of a hasty excogitation, but of a patient progressive and piecemeal experience. Ours is not the enterprise of rash and romantic projectors, but throughout of firm staple, and accredited by the substantial testimonies, and still more by the substantial offerings of a Christian public, it holds no common quality with the visions of an extravagant imagination; nor does it seek being indebted for one footstep of its progress, either to the impulse of a popular mania, or to the jugglery of a name.
But here a question may be interposed. We draw on the benevolence of the public for the erection of these churches. Why not draw on the same benevolence for the endowment of them also? Why obtrude on government an application for the latter object, any more than for the former? We have appealed to the generosity of individuals for one of these objects; why not make an appeal to them for both, or press on our rulers that Extension of the Church, which ought to be provided for in allits parts, by the freewill offerings of the good and the wealthy within its own bosom?
To this we reply, First, that it is in defect of the aid of Government on whom the obligation lies of providingall which is necessary for the Christian instruction of the people, that we now call for the contributions of private individuals
Secondly, that, even though individual benevolence could achieve the whole, the necessary independence of the clergyman might be impaired, were his support to be devolved upon this quarter .
Thirdly, but that there is a limit to the efforts of Christian philanthropy, hitherto far short of even a very sensible fraction of what is requisite for the thorough accomplishment of the object, and,
Fourthly, that in admitting the charities of the welldisposed to a share in this great work, we select the object which makes these far more prolific and available, when we propose for them the erection of new churches rather than their, endowment; for here lies the distinction between the two cases between the erection of new churches for which we are now soliciting their aid, and the endowment of them, for which we make application to the Government It is a great and grievous miscalculation, that, because the erection of churches may be accomplished by the freewill offerings of private liberality, these should also suffice for the endowment of them. There is an entire disparity between these two objects, which if attended to, will explain how it is, that, while the united generosities of a neighbourhood may achieve the one, they should utterly fall short of the other. In the case of a building, there is speedily realized a full and definite and satisfactory return for the sums which have been raised. There is the whole moneys worth for the whole money given a something which at once pleases the eye, and interests the fancy and presents an adequate result to the mind, in a visible productof tasteful and stately architecture, standing forth in the character of a public good, and dignifying or giving additional importance to the locality within which it has been reared.
There are no such influences at play to stimulate the subscription for an endowment. We cannot in this way build up a capital for an annual interest as the only immediate return; and still less can we, secure (though by one great impulse we may have succeeded in raising the church) by a repetition of impulses, the regular payment of an adequate yearly allowance for the clergyman difficult, as it is ever found, so to sustain the zeal of subscribers; and naturally averse, as all people are, to an obligation that might continue during their lives, and might descend as ,a burden to their children. It is here that we solicit the helping hand of the State; and entreat of our rulers that they will provide an income for those functionaries whose office it is to preach the gospel to the poor, and be the moral guardians of the families in those districts which are respectively assigned to them. And, while it is our unalterable persuasion, that a sacred duty lies on a Christian government to provide for the religious instruction of the people, we cannot forbear also to refer to the fact, that churches for the mass of the community, and comprehensive of all classes, have never been adequately provided in any land, but on the strength of an endowment from without, and, we have to add, that should Government withhold this important aid from us, we have the melancholy prospect before us, that many of the new churches already raised will in a great measure fail in accomplishing the particular object in view,; and that very many of the moral wastes on which we have not yet entered, both in our crowded cities and remote country parishes, must be left without an effort to reclaim them.
For these several functions of private individuals on the one hand, and of Government on the other for the method of apportioning the good work between them and that often by the erection of a church by the former, and the endowment of it by the latter, we beg to adduce the examples, both of Scotland and England, which will abundantly vindicate our present doings, and more especially the present aim of the Assembly to provide the erection of new churches by the liberality of the people, and the endowment of them by the State.
It will be found on a diligent study of what has been done in other days, that there isa very remarkable consonancy between the Church Extension Scheme. On the one hand, and on the other, the spirit and views of the legislation that is to be met with on the subject, in the statute books both of Scotland and England; and also the practice of these two countries in former times, when the deficiency of either establishment had to be provided for. Though the erection as well as the endowment of all the parishes as they subsisted in Scotland three years ago, has been happily legalized; yet in many of the parishes when originally constituted, we find that the first church was built by the parishioners, and the endowment of it provided by the State. For in considering the history of the changes that have taken place inparochial establishments, we shall perceive that almost invariably, the first of the objects above enumerated, to wit, the erection of new places of worship, has been accomplished by the people themselves belonging to the parishes; and that the, second requisite of an ecclesiastical establishment, the endowment of the minister, has generally fallen to the public or to the State to make good. It will be found indeed on an examination of the statutes, both those relating to Scotland exclusively, and those relating to England and Wales, "that the constitutional means for supplying the defect have been considered to be a parliamentary grant of public money in aid of the voluntary contributions of individuals; that in former times these contributions have only been expected from persons interested in or connected with the particular district or parish where the want was felt; and that the kind of assistance very frequently given by individuals in this end of the island, has been the erection of the fabric of the church, leaving the endowment to be otherwise provided for.
In every complex question, there is great danger of being hurried or betrayed into a wrong judgment, and that by mere inadvertency to some one or other of the various elements which enter into the composition of it. And to no subject is this observation more applicable, than to the Extension of a National or Established Church; and that whether it be argued as a: question of abstract reasoning, or it be looked to in the actual history of those steps and expedients by which it is carried forward. The great argument on the side of a legal or national provision for the Christian education of the people, is, that, if left to their own spontaneous movements, they will neither erect a sufficient number of churches, nor provide the maintenance of a sufficient number of clergymen for themselves. Now, what applies to a whole people before that a religious establishment has begun, applies also to a part of the people, even that part which is left without the limits of an inadequate establishment, or of one too small to overtake all the families of the land. This surplus ,or outfield population will hold forth ,as ample a proof fpr the impotency of the Voluntary system, as, did the, whole of the original population, before that a National Church was provided for them. They will neither provide enough of places of worship, nor support enough of Christian ministers to serve in them;. and so present a fearful mass of irreligion and crime to the view of observers.
The argument for the extension of the National Church in behalf of these, is identical with the argument for the establishment of such a Church at all; and those professed friends of the Church of Scotland, who yet are hostile to its extension, will be put we should imagine, to no small difficulty, if ever called upon to vindicate the existence of it. It is well known that acting as an organ of the public liberality, we have only yet undertaken to provide for one object of a National Establishment. They have given such assistance as they could afford towards the erection of places of worship; but in no instance have they contributed to the maintenance of the clergyman. Had they been fully able to overtake both, then, without aid or cooperation from any other quarter, might they have looked forward to the time, when, by the contributions of the benevolent alone, the Church. might have been adequately extended, so as to meet the exigencies of all our population. But we only attempt a fraction of the work; and the consequence is, that we can only find our way to: a fraction of the now unprovided families. Hath we been able to do all, we might by this time have held forth the gospel to all, without money and without price.
But we have only lessened somewhat the money and the price which worshippers must pay for the services of religion We may. have opened the gate of ordinances to poorer than before, but we have not yet reached the poorest of the poor; and, long before our destitution is fully overtaken, we, if obliged to confine our efforts to the requisite architecture alone, must at last be arrested at a barrier beyond which we cannot penetrate.
We have never affirmed the utter powerlessness of the Voluntary principle, and more especially when it assumes the form of voluntary liberality. There was room allowed, nay even great room and encouragement given to it under the Jewish dispensation, when, over and above the levies and the tithes, the people added their freewill offerings. And in our modern day, we are not aware of any Established Church within the limits of Christendom, that has altogether rejected this aid; as in Roman Catholic countries, notwithstanding the greater sufficiency in general of their endowments; and even in the Church of England, where, in the shape of fees and offerings to their clergymen, and of parish rates for the maintenance and tasteful adornment of their churches, the spontaneous generosity of the contributors frequently goes beyond the strict necessity of the legal ordination.
Perhaps in Scotland there has been a greater, a more sensitive repugnance felt to this mixture of the voluntary with the established and the legal, than in any other land. Yet we must not forget the rock from whence we have been hewn, or shut our eyes to the undeniable historical truth, that to voluntary liberality the Protestant Church of Scotland owes its existence. It is true that the fathers of our glorious emancipation from Popery, never lost sight of the Churchs patrimonial endowments, or ceased to reclaim against the violence and injustice of those nobles, by whose unprincipled rapacity it was that they were withheld for years from their rightful object, the Christian education of our families. Yet for the achievement of this great end, for the restoration of the property and rights of the Church, or, which is tantamount to this, for the restoration of the dearest rights and interests of the people, they disdained not the aid of voluntary liberality, which, in their hands, proved the great instrument of moral compulsion, by which, not to set aside a religious Establishment, but by which to secure and carry one. The narrow controversialists of the present day, who have only space in their understandings for half a subject, would make the one of these elements utterly destructive of the other would, on the one hand, refuse to take one footstep of the voluntary movement, because not in the style and not comporting with the dignity of a regular and endowed church; or, on the other hand, because our forefathers laboured, and with such signal effect, to recover the establishment of a National Church, and by means of spontaneous liberality, we their posterity should, they think, make their means our end, and contrive to do, without an Establishment altogether.
It is fortunate for the moral history of Scotland, that the men of other days could both combine and could discriminate. They knew that what was not fit for a landingplace, might yet be fit for a steppingstone; and so Knox and his followers, when bereft of the legal provision, threw themselves on the liberalities of the people: and it was the powerful.voice of,their numerous and faithful congregations, under the guidance and intelligence of their pastors, which forced from the reluctant government of that period at least a partial restoration of the Churchs rifled patrimony. It is our part to unite the zeal with the wisdom of these men, that the Church, which to them owes its existence, may from us receive that extension which, disguise it as we may, has now become indispensable for the safe transmission of it into the hands of our childrens children. It will be seen, that with our new churches we have reached a good way farther down among the destitute of our people than they ever did, or possibly could, have done, by means of the old chapels. It has happened with us according to a universal law in Political Economy.
Along with a cheapening of the goods, there has been a widening of the market. We have found our way to poorer Customers than before; but unless the goods be still further cheapened, by what in commerce is termed a bounty, and in Christianity is termed an endowment, we shall inevitably stop short, before we can find our way to the great mass and majority of the unprovided population. Otherwise, it is in vain to erect fabrics in behalf of those, who either will not or cannot provide a scanty maintenance for the clergymen who might fill them. It is thus that the further we proceed in our operations, we come into view of a destitution and a helplessness still more aggravated than any that we have had yet to deal with. We have traversed a larger space than we could have imagined to be at all practicable, in the brief period of about five years from the commencement of our proceedings; but there is a far larger ulterior space, which remains to be entered, and on the greater part of which we shall never be able to plant a single footstep without help for the maintenance of the clergyman, as well as help for the erection of a sacred edifice, in which he might deal forth the bread of life, among a people now perishingfor lack of knowledge.
Therefore it is, that at every new footstep of our progress, the appeals for aid which we cannot answer become more frequent and more painfully impressive than before. The numerous urgencies on all hands to which we are exposed, experimentally tell the need of a Religious Establishment, each new call louder than before, and carrying in it a fresh demonstration of the impotency of Voluntaryism, Meanwhile, it is satisfactory to believe, that the highway to our ultimate success, is just a perseverance on the part of the Church in the way that they begun and have continued hitherto. As yet we have proceeded, not on the maxim that the public should do all, neither on the maxim that the Government must do all; but we have all along attempted a composition of both. As in the best days of the Old Testament; and we may add as in the times when piety most flourished in the Church of Scotland, and that too while there was the greatest deficiency both of places of worship and of ministers in the land the want, we know on the clearest historical demonstration, was repaired, not from one or other of these sources exclusively, but from the benevolence of individuals conjoined with a bounty from the state.
And at this moment it must be perfectly obvious, that thes two, instead of conflicting are conspiring forces It is to the magnitude of our previous efforts, that we owe all our present influence with public and parliamentary men on this great question. It is the number of our New Churches, as demonstrative of the sacrifices made to raise them, which affords the most authentic test and exhibition, both of the destitution under which we labour, and of our desire to have it removed. Now, these are the very elenients which operate with greatest effect on the rulers of a free nation; or, in other words, it is our architecture that will prove the steppingstone to our endowments it is through the medium of the country that the Government will be carried. Nothing, therefore, could be imagined that would prove more ruinous to our great enterprise, than to suspend all further operations, till we see what Governmentwere to do for us. If we suspend our operations, Government will infallibly suspend their resolutions in our favour. Though it be the undoubted duty of Government to provide for the religious education of the people, there is too much reason to fear, that no Administration will propose a grant for the endowment of our New Churches, without a strong and previously expressed desire for such a measure on the part of the community at large.
Now, the number of these Churches forms the best criterion, by which to estimate both the strength and the prevalence of this desire. In proportion as our undertaking for New Churches approaches to a magnitude that is national, will our demand for a provision to their new clergy have in it the character and force of a national cry. In very proportion that we multiply our erections in the country, shall we multiply our friends and our votes in the parliament. It is thus that each additional fabric becomes an additional guarantee for our ultimate success. As with the first establishment, so in fact with the subsequent extension of all National Churches. It was the number of congregations spread over the whole territory, which led to the one; and it is the number of congregations, more or less matured, spread over the surplus or unprovided territory, which forms the likeliest step to the accomplishment of the other also.
The following is a statement of the leading facts of Church Extension during the last five years :
In 1875 there were reported 62 churches, and 865,626 pounds (£)
1836 there were reported 26 churches, and 32,359
1837 there were reported 67 churches, and 59,311
1838 there were reported 32 churches, and 48,683
And now in 1839 we announce there were reported14 churches, and 25,959 ,
Making in all......,....,201 churches, and £2221,939
They who know the rationale of our process, will know how to interpret the fact of the declension which has taken place last year, and understand it as a result which ought to have been looked for, first, without any abatement, but rather an increase in the urgency of the demand for more churches; and, secondly, without any abatement, but an increase, too, in the interest felt by all classes of society in Scotland, for the furtherance and final accomplishment of our great cause.
First, there is no abatement, but the contrary, in the urgency of the demand. By the very moderate computation of the royal commissioners, there were 40,000 individuals, who ought to be churchgoers, within the limits of the presbytery of Edinburgh, unprovided with the means of religious instruction; and for these nine new churches have been or are to be erected, leaving more than thirty congregations which still remain to be gathered from destitute and desert places in and about the metropolis of Scotland. By the computation of the same honourable body, alike moderate, for certainly as much within the truth as the former, there are upwards of 60,000 human beings in Glasgow living in the habit of estrangement from the ordinances of religion, and for whom only fifteen new churches have yet been overtaken; so that in that city and neighbourhood, with a population increasing at the fearful rate of 8000 in the year, there still remain materials for no less than fifty additional congregations. We will not affirm that there is the same proportional deficiency all over Scotland; but we state it as our confident persuasion, that though much has been already done, it does not amount to one half of what is still undone, or in other words, we shall not complete our part of the undertaking, which is the mere architecture of Church extension, without a doubly greater amount of liberality than has yet been expended, and that on edifices alone.
But it is not of the mass of this remaining destitution that we have alone to speak. It is of the degree and quality of the destitution, as being of a far more helpless and aggravated character than any which we have yet had to encounter. By every step in advance, or at every fresh descent that we make on the churchless territory of Scotland, we come into engagement with poorer and more wretched localities than before. We have already traversed the whole of that practicable border, or, by another mode of conceiving it, have already made full penetration through that uppermost layer of the heathenism of, our land, in which the people, with the moderate aid of 25 per cent., have managed to make out the remaining expense, and complete the building of places of worship for themselves.
But we have now come into communication. with the people next in order on the scale of increasing poverty, and not only destitute, but friendless, from whom we have little or nothing to look for in the sufficiency of their own resources, and who, less favoured than many of their neighbours, have no wealthy and generous supporters of what is good connected with them, either by residence or property, who might patronize their local subscription, and help it forward by their munificence, to the state in which it might be presented for the stated allowancesof the General Committee. They cannot afford so much as 75 per cent, for the building of a church, and we cannot afford more than 25 per cent. to carry them onward in this undertaking; and so, unless enabled to give more liberally than at that rate which hitherto has kept us in, a state of perpetual exhaustion, they and we must for ever abide at an impracticable distance from each other; and so, again, at the very time that the calls of destitution have become more urgent and imploring, we are removed by a wider gulf of separation from the possibility of relieving it.
It is, indeed, a most striking experimental verification of every doctrine which we have advocated on the necessity of a provision ab extra, ere the people of any land can be adequately supplied with the ministrations of the gospel; ot, in other words, on thegood of a National Establishment to overspread, both with churches and schools, the whole extent of that territory which, apart from this, and with all the powers both of Voluntaryism within and of Voluntaryism without, has never yet been overtaken. If we fail in our practical object, we shall, at least have the melancholy satisfaction of reading our own lesson on the moral waste which lies before us, in more vivid and discernible characters than ever; and, if brought to a dead stand, with neither the increasing liberality of the Christian public, nor the helping hand of Government to carry us forward, this very result, while the disappointment of all our hopes, will be to us the confirmation of all our principles.
But, secondly, and notwithstanding the comparatively smaller progress made last year, both in our funds and our churches, we have the satisfaction of being able to demonstrate, that, as this does not proceed from any abatement in the demand, or in the felt necessity for more places of worship, so neither does it proceed from any abatement of zeal, or exertion on the part of the Christian public, for the advancement of this great cause. There might have been an apparent pause, and that, too, at the very moment when the destitution first came into sight, of a more clamant and helpless description than heretofore we had been in the habit of relieving, just as the cry of distress, while it arouses the painfullest sympathy of all its hearers, might, at the same time, chill them into inaction, when it either betokens so extreme a wretchedness, or seems to issue from a quarter so inaccessible, as to be beyond the reach of its possible alleviation.
Fortunately, in the course of last year, we have been enabled to apply a discriminating test, by which to ascertain whether the decline of our prosperity arose from the sensibility in our favour becoming extinct, or from that sensibility being only in abeyance, till some practicable opening was presented for the development of whatever force or feeling might yet remain to it. On revealing the difficulties of our scheme to him who, from the first, has been its most munificent supporter, Mr William Campbell of Glasgow, practised in business, and with a sagacity in devising liberal things only equalled by the openhearted ness which prompts and actuates him onwards to the noblest sacrifices, and leaves us at a loss whether most to admire the largeness of his benefactions or the largeness of his views, this truly patriotic friend of the Church of Scotland has suggested a plan which, now that it has been put, though as yet very partially, into operation, bids fair, if only prosecuted with sufficient energy, to bring our enterprise into its desired haven.
The proposal is, to contribute at the rate of £1 or more for each of the 100 new churches, not begun to be built previous to the publication of the Assemblys Church Extension Report of 1838; or for any smaller number of new churches which subscribers may choose to fix upon. This proposal has been adopted, and, with certain explanations, has been presented under the sanction of their recommendation to the public at large. It has been extensively circulated throughout the Church, and, though not onetenth of the exertion has yet been made which might easily, and with a little cooperation in various parts of the country, be put forth, and that most beneficially and productively, in behalf of this Supplementary Fund, it has met with so ready an approval in every quarter where it has yet been prosecuted, that in the shape of contributions to this scheme, we can report the addition. of no less than £27,000 to the other revenue for Church Extension in Scotland. This added to the sums formerly exhibited, makes, out the total revenue of last year to be £52,959, 14s. 9d., and the grand total of revenue since the commencement of the scheme to be £258,939, 16s. 8d.
From this deduct an overstatement of £7500 assigned by the Report of a former year to the building of a new Gaelic church in Glasgow, on the mistaken supposition that it was an additional church, and there remains for the whole revenue of five years the sum of £251,439, 16s. 8d. This princely offering to our cause, which we have no doubt might, with a certain degree of countenance, and a certain contribution of agency from the churchs friends, be easily tripled in the course of a few months, not only opens a patent way for the fulfilment of our part of the undertaking, which is the erection of all the necessary fabrics, but affords so impressive a demonstration of the resolute and unquelled spirit of Church Extension in Scotland, as must tell ,most efficiently on the mind of parliament in our favour. There is a peculiar character in the offerings to the Supplementary Fund, which does not belong to the contributions which have been received hitherto. These were chiefly rendered to US in the shape of local subscriptions, having for their object the palpable or immediate good of ones own family or ones own neighbourhood, and meeting with its almost present reward in the speedy ascent of a graceful structure near at hand, and within the daily observation of his senses.
But the object of the Supplementary Fund is general and indiscriminate for the whole of Scotland, and its benefits will principally be felt in those remote and destitute localities which have hitherto escaped the eye of observation. In other words, the donors of these magnificent sums have cast them into our treasury, not under the impulse of any special affection, but in obedience, let us hope, to the calm and unimpassioned dictate of Christian charity, and holding no common quality whatever with the influences either of sense or of selfishness. The thing has been done by the force of an enduring principle, not of a fickle or a fugitive emotion; and we confess our more steadfast assurance than heretofore in the perpetuity of our great undertaking, and at length its prosperous consummation, when, apart from the operation of every partial or accidental stimulus, apart from the charm of any local distinction or local benefit, we behold so noble a response on the part of the people of Scotland to the Catholic lesson of doing good unto all men a lesson. eternal and unchangeable as the gospel itself, and so long as the unction of the Holy One is in the midst of us, that anointing which remaineth with the people of God, a lesson which can never be forgotten, and the felt authority of which will never die.
We are quite sensible, that, while thus expatiating on the bright prosperity of these doings, and on the confidence we feel in the sufficiency of public benevolence, for the erection of all our churches, we stand exposed to the question, Why not trust to the same benevolence for the endowment of them also? and have even been reproached for the impolicy of gathering and exhibiting such proofs of the efficacy of the Voluntary principle, as might absolve the Government from all farther part or concern in the undertaking, and justify our rulers for the determination on which they have acted from the commencement of our present undertaking, of leaving us to ourselves.
This objection can only be entertained by such as have had no intimate experience, and expended little or no reflection on the subject. Experimentally, we can raise money for the fabrics, we cannot raise it for aught like a secure or permanent endowment. Among the two hundred belonging to Church Extension, we have only succeeded in obtaining the endowment of about four or five; and that, save in one, or at most, in two instances, not a complete, but a partial maintenance for the clergyman. And this actual finding of human nature in the present day is in beautiful accordance with the facts of history, both sacred and secular, in past times, with the rearing of the tabernacle, and the repairs of the temple, and the erection of synagogues, being done by the freewill offerings of the people, and yet a large and liberal provision or their ecclesiastics, coeval with the first settlement of the Hebrew nation in the land of Canaan, more recently with the disjunction of parishes both in England and Scotland, which, as admirably set forth by Mr Monypenny, was carried into effect by the erection of a church on the part of the parishioners, by the endowment of it on the part of the State.
The sound practical view of the matter is this: Our architecture, so far from acting as a repellent, will be the very instrument in our hands by which to invite and secure the endowment we are seeking for. They will be the conductors by which to bring down this virtue or this boon from the upper regions of our political hemisphere; and if only enough multiplied on the platform of the community below, their united force will by a moral law as surely evoke this dispensation from the high court of Parliament, as by a physical law a church spire, when sufficiently raised above the earth, can effectuate the discharge of electricity from the heavens. Our places of worship, these undoubted signals both of a felt necessity and of an urgent desire on the part of the constituencies of Scotland, will at length command, first the notice, and then the support of our Scottish representatives. We may have had misgivings as to the likelihood of such a consummation, when moving every year through a medium of greater density and resistance, we had, because of the impediment already explained, to report both a lessening revenue and a lessening number of additional settlements on that dreary field of irreligion and ignorance which has not yet been onethird overtaken.
But now that by a plan so felicitous in the conception, and so practicable in the execution of it, this impediment has at length been cleared away; and the Supplementary Fund, which has already reached, and that on the strength of a few isolated efforts, the sum of £27,000, but capable of being raised, we confidently affirm, by dint of a little more cooperation, to £100,000, in the course of the following year, will then be available for the erection of churches in districts which have as yet been helplessly beyond the reach of your Cornmittee, A demonstration so magnificent as this, such a resolute and unquelled spirit of Christian philanthropy, rising superior to difficulties, and for the achievement of a conquest over them, breaking forth into noble acts and sacrifices of generosity all over the land, before a principle so commanding in itself, and leading to a result so truly patriotic as that of a universal Christian education, any rulers, and of whatever party or denomination in the state, must finally give way, and when at length ashamed of all further resistance, through the medium of the country embarked in a cause so glorious, and fully resolved on its accomplishment, the Government will be carried.
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