MEANWHILE, the Province of New Brunswick was set apart from that of Nova Scotia. A separate legislature was assigned, and a governor appointed as a representative of the Crown. As with the clergy, many of the laity were men of culture, and well fitted for the office of legislators. Of such men were the officials of the first separately established rule in New Brunswick composed. They were, without exception, members of the Church of England. Hence it came about that, in addition to original grants from the Crown, considerable portions of land were assigned for the maintenance of the Church. Provision was made for grammar schools in the several counties, under the control of the rector and local Church authorities. By the interest and exertion of Sir Howard Douglas, the lieutenant governor at the time referred to, King's College was established at Fredericton. A handsome building was erected; it was endowed with six thousand acres of land and about £2,000 a year from the provincial revenues. The management was vested in a council of members of the Church of England, with power to confer degrees.
'The Royal instructions to Governor Carleton of August 13th, 1784, minutely describe the steps to be taken in the organization of the new Province. Section 70 reads thus: "You shall take especial care that God Almighty be devoutly and duly served throughout your government, the Book of Common Prayer as by law established read each Sunday and holy day, and the blessed sacrament administered according to the rites of the Church of England."
The year 1787 formed a marked era in the history of the Colonial Church. The Rev. Charles Inglis, D. D., was consecrated Bishop of Nova Scotia, that Diocese then including what is now the Diocese of Fredericton. His son, the Right Reverend John Inglis, was consecrated Bishop in 1825. In the following year he visited New Brunswick and confirmed one thousand seven hundred and twenty persons, Many of these were advanced in years, who, in their youthful days, had left their early homes. On that occasion the Bishop consecrated no less than nineteen churches. In the year 1882 the Bishop visited the north and eastern shores. He travelled eight hundred miles and confirmed in seven different places. A third visitation in 1835 occupied two months, when eight hundred persons were confirmed. [Annals of the Colonial Church, by E. Hawkins.] "Every toil," the Bishop writes, "was lightened by a well encouraged hope that, through the blessing of God, this portion of the gospel vineyard is in a state of progress and improvement.... The missionaries are labouring faithfully through many difficulties, under which they are supported by a confiding trust in Him, whose they are and whom they serve. They are exemplary in their life and conversation. ... In all my communications with them, which have been constant and intimate, I have found them respectful and affectionate, and it has been a delightful task to share their labours and their prayers."
New Brunswick, in the year 1825, was set apart as an Archdeaconry, under the Rev. George Best, who was also the first president of King's College. "He was a man," it is said, "full of gentleness and genuine unaffected piety." Owing to failing health he returned soon after to England, and in the year 1829, he was succeeded by Archdeacon Coster. It was a great misfortune to the Church that Archdeacon Coster, from physical inability, was unable to perform all the arduous duties pertaining to his charge. He was a graduate of Cambridge, an accomplished scholar and well read theologian, courteous and gentle in his manners, with that calm dignity appertaining to his holy office and high position. Bodily infirmities, in some degree, hindered the effect which his sermons and addresses, from their singular efficacy, would otherwise have produced. Although naturally reserved, those who knew him most intimately, were drawn to him by his sympathy and kindness of heart.
A great change had now come about alike with regard to the body politic and the Church. The first members of the legislature had grown old--many had passed away. In few instances did their descendants inherit their decided principles. The young men of the country, with many also who had come from elsewhere, claimed the right to prominent political positions. They sought for a change, by which the whole government of the country was to be led more fully to the popular voice. At length this movement was successful. The day of exclusive privileges was at an end. Henceforth legislation was no more in favour of the Church. It soon became in some instances hostile. That connection which existed, or was supposed to exist, with the body politic as a part of the Established Church of England, ceased. In the colonies with established governments all communions of Christians were declared to be on a like footing.
Before long the position of the Church of England in the Province, with reference to the college, grammar, and parish schools, was entirely changed. Personal influence was now all that was left to the Church in the education of the young, so far as that education was provided from the provincial revenue.
A few years had wrought still greater changes in the position of the Church itself. The tide of emigration from the old country now set in. Thereby the population of the country began rapidly to increase. The Roman Catholic element became prominent, and the ranks of others not in communion with the Church of England were also strengthened by the arrival of the immigrants.
In the small towns, which opened up as the country advanced, there were various bodies of non-conformists. In many instances they rivalled, or exceeded, the Church in the number of their adherents and of their sacred buildings.
They had learned one great secret of success--self-reliance.
From the paucity of the Church's missions, especially in the country places, and in new and distant settlements, there arose estrangement on the part of those whose forefathers were churchmen. Nothing like neglect to bring about such a feeling. Those who, from neglect and lack of sympathy for themselves or their children, are alienated from the Church become, in time, the most opposed to her teaching, and the most difficult to win back. By-and-bye it will be found that schism, with all its incalculable evils and its frightful hindrances to the extension of the Redeemer's kingdom, will be laid to the charge of many too ready to condemn others. Moreover, it is to be remembered that all along there was a body of men strongly opposed to the Church of England, though at the time comparatively few in number, who came over with the Loyalists from the United States. Their feelings seem to have been deeply infused and intensified in their descendants. Among the ministers of the dissenting bodies were men of zeal and great activity--just the kind of men the Church stood in want of, had they only been in her communion. Too much and too long the members of the Church depended upon exclusive privileges, and upon aid from England.
At the time when the Church in New Brunswick needed united strength and earnest zeal her members became divided among themselves. The Loyalist clergy, with those added in earlier years to their number, belonged, for the most part, to the High Church school. A different teaching was set on foot in one of the most important places in the Province. The City of St. John had rapidly advanced in wealth and influence. It was the one commercial centre. The rector of this parish--a man of marked ability and personal attraction--was the leader of the Evangelical section. He gained the strong attachment of many of the most influential people in the country. Then came on, in many instances, bitter controversy and estrangement--sad hindrances to the work of the Church--distrust regarding her teaching, and vast advantage to those opposed to her ways.
Nor, apart from all this, was the Church, at this time, alive to her real position; nor were the public services hearty or attractive. To many it seemed as if "vital piety" were rightly claimed under ministrations outside the communion of the Church, or by those who, within her pale, failed to conform in many ways to her teaching. It would be a grievous wrong to disallow the earnestness of many a hard-worked missionary and many a devoted layman who were a blessing to the Church at the time to which we now allude. They bore forth good seed. Afterwards, "others entered into their labours." Still the Church buildings and the Church services were alike of a dull and dreary sort. New churches were built, but more after the plan of the meeting-house. In the public services there were no responses,--that all-important part of divine worship fell to the lot of the clerk. This was so as late as the year 1843 in the parish church at Fredericton. The writer can well remember attending the services there as a student at the college. There were present the representative of the Queen, government officials, the officers and soldiers of a regiment, with a large congregation, including the first people of the capital city; and he--the writer--was only one of three who knelt, and he scarcely ventured to raise his voice with that of the aged clerk in the responses. [This refers to men only.]
It is most interesting to notice the beginning of a great change--it may well be called a great revival--even in so insignificant a portion of the world. At the time those publications were being issued from Oxford, which wrought such mighty results, the Archdeacon of New Brunswick was engaged in a course of lectures to the divinity students on the peculiar position of the Church and her positive dogmatic teaching. This was far from a popular course; the tide was all the other way; soon it was to be on the turn. Above the sound of the moving waters the voice of the Church--the voice of her great head--was heard, calling on all the members of His body to contend for the faith once for all delivered. By the mighty power of the Spirit of truth that "sound has gone out into all lands, and the words to the ends of the world."