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Church of England Magazine.
THE Commencement of another and deepen that feeling of solemnity
which the season is itself calculated to produce. The year that is past has been no common year;-we live at a striking era; and appear on the eve of great events; we are therefore called to stand upon our watch-tower, to observe the signs of the times, and to seek for grace and wisdom, that our paths may be directed aright through those difficulties and dangers with which we may shortly be exercised.
year is a solemn and impressive
The sword, the famine, and the pestilence are spoken of in scripture as God's sore evils, with which he afflicts the guilty nations. He has in mercy vouchsafed unto us an abundant harvest, and has thus for the present removed the apprehension of famine. He has visited us indeed with pestilence, but O how mercifully has he dealt with us! The cholera approached our land, as if to shew the folly of those who imagined that human precautions, or favourable circumstances could check its career; but when all hands began to hang down, and all knees to wax feeble, the destroying angel was commanded to stay his hand ;—and another proof has thus been added to the unnumbered instances on record, that in the midst of wrath God remembereth mercy. We trust that in the same mercy the sword that may yet be kept far from us,
censures, since bad as their policy may be, it is in many respects not without precedent. The same preference of the dictates expediency to the declarations of God's word produced Roman Catholic emancipation in Ireland, has perpetuated slavery in the West Indies, and sanctioned the most barbarous and detestable idolatry in our eastern possessions.
And what emotions do these three short sentences excite in the mind. Ireland-the West Indies -our Eastern Possessions!
IRELAND. Alas! what awful consequences have resulted from our recent measures in that country. Three years ago a spirit of serious religious inquiry pervaded a large part of the island. Immense numbers of children and adults were reading and committing to memory the Holy Scriptures. The Romish Priests were in various respects compelled to concede largely to the wishes of their people-and the Protestant clergy were zealously, usefully, extensively, and peacefully employed in their important labours. What is now the case?-the spirit of religious inquiry received a fearful blow from Romish emancipationthe Papists said, and they reasoned fairly, If the British government did not know that the old religion was the true one, they would not have granted this' and the Romanists therefore, hailed with rapture O'Connel's annunciation, We have
peace may be preserved in all our borders, and tranquillity be maintained throughout our land.
The magnitude, however, of the impending danger, may well excite apprehension. We have united
with France, with Popish and
Our union with France in this
wrung from the British government the six and eight pence, now boys for the thirteen and four pence.' Scriptural education has received a fearful blow from the abstraction of thirty thousand pounds from the Kildare Place Society, and the Capel Street Association, and the placing of this large sum under a board in which no Irish protestant can have any confidence. The Romish Priests are triumphant agitators, and the
lion; and at this moment, when we have every prospect of a foreign war, our most important possessions are prepared to throw off their allegiance, and with the most preposterous hostility to our government, to surrender themselves to the guidance of any power which can afford adequate protection.
These are however political dangers, and some may perhaps conceive, that we dwell too much on them; we will not therefore touch on the popular excitement, or the probable consequences of the late alterations in our national representation, or the increasing and appalling miseries of pauperism; but proceed at once to those perils with which our church is threatened.
protestant clergy are plundered of their property, in peril of their lives, and many of them compelled to flee their country. Such are the bitter fruits of legislating on political expediency, and losing sight of Christian principle.
In the WEST INDIES, year after year passes over, and nothing effectual is done. Hopeless, helpless, interminable slavery is still the Negro's portion. We talk in this country of preparing the Negroes for emancipation; we speculate on ameliorating their condition; on gradually civilizing and christianizing these unhappy men. But the colonists laugh us to scorn, they beard our government, they outrage Christian Ministers and Missionaries, and determine that the captive shall never go free!
And what is the case in the EAST INDIES; at length we have abolished the burning of the Hindoo widows; but still we receive into our treasury the profits of idolatry, the price of licentiousness and of blood; still we have hundreds and thousands of our own countrymen exposed to every temptation, without religious instruction; and hundreds of thousands, yea, millions of native subjects, the undisturbed slaves of evil affections, and detestable oppressors. We have till very recently as a government, discouraged the conversion of the natives; and the little good effected in that mighty empire, has been produced by the labours, and at the expence of pious individuals, who have had to encounter every difficulty, and to struggle against privations, contempt, and positive opposition, to a degree of which comparatively few in this country have any conception.
And what is the consequence? Our legislating on political, instead of Christian principles, has brought Ireland, the West Indies, the Mauritius, to say nothing of the East Indies, to the very verge of rebel
We have not indeed been accustomed to regard these dangers as so urgent as they appear to many of our cotemporaries; on the contrary, the vast increase of serious, devoted, and diligent clergymen; the improvement in scriptural knowledge, moral worth, and official correctness of many, whose sentiments on some important points by no by no means coincide with our own; the public testimonies so decidedly given to the supreme importance of true religion, &c. afford us ground of hope that God will be gracious both to Our church and nation. Yet still our church is unquestionably exposed at this moment, to fearful assaults from without; and we are compelled to entertain very painful doubts with reference to the competence, and the fidelity of many who are within.
The facility with which the Irish church has been stripped of a large part of her possessions, affords a most encouraging precedent to men of no principle, or of corrupt principle, to plunder our own establishment; yet on this point we see no material ground of alarm. The returns of the actual value of livings, and the real amount of ecclesiastical possessions, will demon
Strate, that if any ecclesiastical establishment is to be maintained at all, it can scarcely be supported at a cheaper rate than our own is at present. We do not believe the legislature are yet prepared to extinguish religion, and they will therefore most probably attempt to regulate, rather than confiscate, the possessions of the church. The increase indeed of popish and dissenting members in the new parliament, will render legislation on ecclesiastical affairs difficult; but the lay impropriations possessed by our aristocracy, will indispose the majority of both houses from listening to any of those sweeping plans of spoliation which radicals may desire. Thus the iniquitous plunder of Henry the Eighth, and the rapacity of the courtiers of his day, by which so many of our most populous livings have been impoverished, will be found to contribute very essentially to the security of the existing establishment.
Nor have we any material apprehension from the efforts of dissenters. They, as a religious body, have, within these few years, lost ground exceedingly. We are well aware that many members of the several denominations are eminently pious, learned, devoted, and respectable. We know that some of these lament the bigotry and intolerance with which the church has recently been assailed from the platform and the press; but the wound which has been inflicted is incurable; the confidence once reposed is destroyed,-is destroyed for ever; the conduct of the leading dissenters has gone very far to justify the accusations of their bitterest enemies, and has produced the most painful emotions in the minds of many, who, differing from them in doctrine or discipline, were yet prepared to hail them in Bible, Missionary, and School Societies as fellow labourers and brethren in Christ Jesus.
But the most formidable danger
to our church is from within. Preserve me from my friends,' may well be here applied. No advocate of political reform ever advanced its cause so much as the Duke of Wellington, when he declared his opposition to all reform. And no enemy of the Church of England is so dangerous, as the friend who maintains her perfection; who contends there is nothing to alter; who resists every concession; who determinately advocates things in all respects as they are. The great danger of the Church of England at this moment, is not from the radicals, nor from the papists, nor from the dissenters, but from those who, contending that the existing system works well, overlook all its defects; and who, while zealously demolishing the vain pretensions of some advocate for a paltry denomination, forget that there is an immense and rapidly increasing multitude who are themselves of no denomination, but who regard all religion as little better than priestcraft, and who living themselves without God in the world, are ready to join with any, and with every party in opposing and plundering those who differ from them. It is not the dissenters that I fear,' said one long since removed to his rest, it is the absenters, the consenters, the men who have no religion, or who assent to all religions alike, not regarding any distinction, or considering any denomination as deserving of preference.' That class of no-notion men has increased, and is increasing with fearful rapidity; and yet their existence seems scarcely contemplated; and consequently no efforts are made for their diminution.
We have plans of Church reform without number, and some of them as radical as can well be conceived. The equalization of livings-the multiplication of bishoprics-the expulsion of bishops from the House of Lords-the abolition of pluralities-the extinction of non