Project Canterbury

A Statement Respecting the Condition and Wants of His Diocese.

By John Medley.

No place: no publisher, 1848.

HAVING returned to England for a short interval, in order to promote the advance of religion in my poor and distant Diocese, I am desirous of communicating to those who generously assisted me on a former occasion, and to other members of the Church of England, who take an active interest in the welfare of our Colonies, such information as will enable them to see in what manner their assistance has been applied, what are the pressing wants of the Diocese, and what grounds I have for soliciting further contributions at this time.

On my arrival in the Province, I directed my attention to four objects in particular. First, to the filling up the vacancies in Missions formerly occupied, and to the formation of new Stations. Secondly, to an endeavour to induce the members of our Church in the Province to do more for themselves. Thirdly, to the promotion of sound religion and useful learning among the candidates for Holy Orders. And, lastly, to the building of my Cathedral Church in the place where I was appointed to reside, and to the increase of Church room for the poor.

I am far from wishing any one to understand, that I have succeeded in accomplishing even what I wished, or expected; and, no doubt, persons better qualified would have done more, and better than I have done; but my aim has been to do right in these respects, and not to pursue any one of the objects just [1/2] named to the neglect of the others. I shall, then, take them in their order.


On my arrival, I found twelve Churches without any regular service on the Lord's day, in consequence of their distance from the resident Missionary. Most of these have now a regular service, and a resident Pastor. Five new Missions have been opened, fourteen Churches consecrated, and two others will, I believe, be ready for consecration on my return.

In building these Churches, the people themselves have done the greater part; and, in some instances, have done all. And, though the Church Society of New Brunswick has liberally contributed to this object, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel has been unable to assist us; and the sum of 300l., placed at my disposal by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, has been made to serve a great many places in the promotion of this particular work. As the welfare of the Church is promoted by our showing that we have the power to advance and increase as circumstances admit, I am thankful to find our Master's blessed promise fulfilled; and I have had many testimonies from the colonists in various parts of the province to the blessing of having a resident Missionary among them.

In the opening of new Missions, great and unexpected difficulties often arise; but, I believe, in no case has there been an extension of the Church, without a calling forth of sympathy and help on the part of the people. Much more, however, is wanted. There are still several entire counties without a single Clergyman. One of my Clergy has a district of one hundred and twenty miles to travel over, with two Churches; another bas ninety miles, with three Churches. Two others have three services on Sunday, and each travels twenty-five miles. Opposite to these Clergymen is a settled district of eighty miles without a Pastor of our Church. Several have four Churches to serve. These journeys must be performed in all weathers, of the coldest as well as the hottest kind; for the extreme range of our thermometer varies from 100° in summer to 25°, and, occasionally, even 30° below zero in winter.

I could with great advantage, had I the means, employ two travelling Missionaries. Our Church Society would [2/3] give 50l. a-year to this object; it already gives 500l. to the partial support of ten resident Missionaries; but I could send the travelling Missionaries where at present no resident Clergymen could be supported by the people, and where the ministrations of our Church would be acceptable, and are seldom heard. If I could even obtain for them support for five years, it would be a service of incalculable good. They ought to have 150l. a-year; and, no doubt, some assistance in kind would be given by those to whom they would be sent. Several new Missions might with advantage be opened, had I the means. At present, I can offer nothing. Travelling Missionaries should be generally, I think, in Priests' Orders; men of some experience in the ways of the world, of very simple habits, ready to be friendly with all who will show themselves friendly, yet steady and uncompromising. They must be ready to go where I send them; and in strong health, to face summer heat and winter cold. Unmarried men would probably suit best for this wandering life.


I proceed to mention what the people have done for themselves. It is very true that they have not done all they ought to have done, nor all that I wish and exhort them to do. But has England herself, have the members of our Church in England, as a body, done all they ought to have done? Yet we have done something: we hope to do yet more. As I said before, the people have contributed liberally to build Churches, and they generally build the Parsonage-house. I know an instance in which the yeomen of the district have built the Church entirely: one has given 70l. and two 60l. each. I know another instance in which great self-denial has been exercised in gifts for the support of the Missionary. The income of our Church Society (established by the Archdeacon of the Province twelve years since) amounts to about 1000l. since the accession to it of members of the Church in St. John, which took place shortly after my arrival. It is, in fact, a Bible, Missionary, Prayer Book and Homily, Church and Parsonage-building, and Religious Tract Society, all in one. It made the following grants at its Annual Meeting in February 1848:--Towards the support of Missionaries, 500l.; for gratuitous distribution of books, 200l.; for books on sale, 300l.; in aid of Churches to be built, 150l.; in [3/4] aid of Parsonage houses, 100l.; and to a fund for widows and orphans of the Clergy, and similar purposes, 100l. By means of the grants to Missions, twenty-seven Churches and Stations were served during the past year which would otherwise never have been occupied. The services of its officers are all gratuitous. The General Committee, who annually distribute the funds, consist of the Clergy, assisted by twice the number of laymen; and the Executive Committee, who meet quarterly, of an equal number of Clergy and laity. In Fredericton a sum of 150l. is raised to support the Curate, and a considerable sum is contributed by occasional collections. In St. John the corporation pay nearly all the Rector's salary, independently of a small sum from the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. The salaries of the Clergy are not in all cases so well or so punctually paid as I could wish them to be; but let any man acquainted with voluntary contributions in England, ask himself whether subscriptions are always punctually and honourably paid? whether he does not know instances in which a capricious whim, a cross word, an unfounded suspicion, is made the ground for a refusal of the promised and expected payment? Our Clergy suffer from all these cruel instances of self-will. Yet some payments are made, and many marks of kindness shown. These payments vary from 150l. to 10l. a year. The greater part do not exceed 40l. actually paid. In many instances it is, I am sorry to say, less; so that our dependence, under God, is in the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. The absence of ready money in the country, and the frequent fluctuations of trade, are also constantly recurring causes which prevent prompt payment; and though provisions are cheap, labour is extravagantly dear, and the fuel for a six months' winter expensive.


I have directed my attention to the studies of the candidates for Holy Orders. Some of these reside near me at Fredericton, and attend at my house three times a week for instruction, besides attending daily service. Every candidate for the ministry is personally examined by me, in conjunction with the Archdeacon, and generally for four days. Our chief difficulty arises from the want of books, and a more useful and acceptable present could not be made to my Diocese than some [4/5] Hebrew Bibles, Greek Testaments with Bloomfield's Notes, copies of the Septuagint, and the standard works of our English Divines. They are difficult and expensive to procure, and seldom within the reach of the student.

The Divinity Scholars at King's College, Fredericton, (who are assisted by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel) also attend at my house once a week.


On leaving this country I was kindly assisted by many warm-hearted friends in a proposition to build a Cathedral Church, not indeed resembling in magnitude and splendour an English Cathedral, but of substantial materials and correct form. Unexpected and trying difficulties have beset me in the progress of the undertaking. Some of those arose from the incompetency of the person originally employed to dig out the foundations, which rendered it necessary to lay them again in another part of the same ground.

It was also extremely difficult to find a suitable contractor, and to build by day-work was ruinous and impracticable. The price of labour is excessive, common masons having 10s. per diem, and labourers 'Is. The soil is sandy, with a bed of gravel, and requires great care; but the spot is beautiful for situation, and it is consecrated by the remembrance of being the spot in which the Loyalists fixed one of their first residences. No site of similar size could be procured elsewhere but at an enormous expense, the price of land in Fredericton being 200l. an acre, and 800l. or 1000l. demanded in St. John for a spot not above one fourth of the sits granted to me gratuitously on the petition of the inhabitants; added to which, I find it of great importance to be placed in a central position, where I can have access to all parts of the Diocese with as little difficulty as circumstances admit. Nor is it unimportant for myself and my successors, that the climate of Fredericton is one of the healthiest in North America.

During the difficulties connected with the site, and the delay of promised subscriptions, I considered the question of churchroom for the poor; and finding that they were almost entirely excluded from the parish Church, (which is for the present my Cathedral, an old building of wood,) and that a proposition for building a small Chapel at the higher end of the town had [5/6] already been entertained by the Archdeacon, I determined to lose no time in providing for the poor. A site was instantly given by the Provincial Secretary, J. S. Saunders, Esq.; His Excellency the Lieut.-Governor offered 100l., and St. Ann's Chapel was commenced in May and consecrated in March following. It holds over two hundred persons; the seats are all free, and it is always filled. Many poor persons have been recovered to the Church, or led to more frequent worship. Our daily service averages from twenty to forty; and on festivals we have generally thirty or more communicants. Our monthly Communions are held in the parish Church, and are of course more full. The building of this Chapel absorbed, for the time, not only all the money of my English friends (who gave it me for Church purposes), but all I could spare myself; but I have been enabled to pay it back, since in good earnest we began the Cathedral. It was recommenced on Ascension Day 1847, and the contract for the nave and aisles, exclusive of windows and roof, was 3,135l.; to this some smaller sums for contingent expenses, and the architect's salary for nearly two years, must be added, making a total of nearly 4,000l. To meet this about 3,000l. has been subscribed in Fredericton. I have also received, through the Rev. C. C. Bartholomew, about 120l., and through Mr. G. Hatherley the sum of 160l., with an anonymous donation of 500l. through J. H. Markland, Esq. and Mr. Justice Coleridge. The sums paid for windows and the nave roof are not included, and have been paid by myself, and for part I am still responsible. In November 1847, we nearly completed the external walls of the nave and aisles; the nave roof will be put on this summer and covered with zinc. It remains to cover in finally the aisles, to build the chancel, and fit up the whole interior for Divine service. The aisle roofs will cost about 650l., the chancel with aisles about 1,800l. The south porch and western entrance are not finished. We were obliged to omit the central tower for want of funds, and the position of the future tower is now a subject for consideration. The length of the nave and aisles is eighty-three feet by fifty-seven, that of the chancel I propose to be about forty. This will hold an organ in one of the chancel aisles, the choir and Clergy in the lower part of the chancel, and Clergy officiating at the Holy Communion in the upper. I am fully aware that persons in England and in the Colonies frequently inquire, What is the use of building [6/7] Cathedrals when Missionaries and Churches are required? The practical answer is, that I am trying to do both; but after all, my Cathedral is not larger than a good sized parish Church, nor larger than we require. The nave will be occupied with seats, the chancel appropriated to its proper uses. What more can the lowest utilitarian want? If it be intended that it is foolish to build God's house of good materials, and in the best manner that our means admit, then I join issue with the objector at once, and declare my unhesitating conviction, that to build a house for the honour of God in a mean paltry way, is as foolish as it is mean, and only shows that we do not value the religion we profess. And it is really sad to think that Englishmen should quietly enjoy the luxury of devotion in the ten thousand parish Churches built for them by their ancestors, and be unwilling to help those who, under the severest trials and discouragements, are trying to give to British subjects abroad the same benefit which British subjects possess at home, and to preserve in the minds of men who have fewer ties of interest, the more solemn and lasting associations of the "unity of the Spirit, and the bond of peace." And in my experience, I have never met with a man who was loud in objecting to a Cathedral Church, who would give any considerable sum to extend the Missions of the Church. However, if there should be any such, they might give their money for Missions only.

Having now made a statement as full as seems necessary, let me now implore the assistance of those who are in earnest to promote the extension of Chest's kingdom. It is not my intention to remain long absent from my Diocese; but if in the interval of my sojourning here, some zealous friends would endeavour to procure subscriptions for three or five years, and donations at the present time, a sufficient sum might be raised to carry on our work, if not to completion, at all events to good purpose. A short time since, a munificent and anonymous friend placed at the disposal of the indefatigable Bishop of Toronto, a sum sufficient to build a Church for the poor in the city of Toronto. A similar want exists in my Diocese, in the city of St. John, where the poor are almost entirely excluded from the principal Churches. There must be many in England to whom even such a sum as was [7/8] then given might be spared, who have no families who would be injured by the gift, and who might gladden the hearts of thousands by their offering; but whatever God deigns to give or to withhold from my Diocese, let me endeavour to believe that the Lord will provide; and let those who have ample fortunes see in these calls of charity an opportunity of doing incalculable good. The times, no doubt, are distressing; but when we find "men's hearts failing them for fear," when "many run to and fro, and knowledge is increased," when the witness of the Gospel is extending through the world, we who look out for the signs of the coming of the Son of man, should feel that this is not a time for retrenching charity, but for retrenching superfluity and waste; and that the nearer we draw to the "day of the Lord," the more diligently we should strive to be faithful and wise stewards, giving to every one his portion of meat in due season.


POSTSCRIPT.--Before leaving native land to return to my Diocese, which I propose to do without delay, I would return my grateful thanks to three kind friends who have cheerfully responded to this appeal, and have contributed nearly 1,800l., chiefly to the building of my Cathedral; this will enable us to go on next year with the tower and choir, though I have no doubt that from 1,500l to 2,000l. more will be wanted to bring the work to completion. My part must be to work on as God gives the means, and to trust in Him to bring it to pass. Three candidates for holy orders, one of whom will be a Travelling Missionary, have already sailed for New Brunswick. Friends at Devises and the neighbourhood have subscribed 80l. a year towards his maintenance for five years, and one liberal churchman has given 60l. a year for five years to the same object. Any farther subscriptions of the same kind would enable me to extend the Missions most beneficially. Liberal grants of books have also been made to my Cathedral Library. J. F.

August 19th, 1848.

Subscriptions and Donations are received at 79, Pall Mall; Messrs. Cocks and Biddulph, 43, Charing Cross; at the Office of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, 79, Pall Mall; and by Messrs. Sanders, Exeter Bank, Exeter.

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