SERMON AND REPORT
The Church of the Advent,
REV. JAMES A. BOLLES, D.D.
DAVID CLAPP, PRINTER . . . .. 334 WASHINGTON ST.
ROMANS, xiii. 11.
And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep.
“AWAKE! again the Gospel trump is blown,
From year to year it swells with louder tone,
From year to year the signs of wrath
Are gathering round the Judge's path;
Strange words fulfilled and mighty works achieved,
And truth in all the world, both hated and believed."
SUCH is the voice which comes to us to-day from the Lessons, Gospels, Epistles and prayers of the Church. For all are animating and awakening—all speak the same language—all penetrate our hearts, as the trump of the Archangel and the voice of God, telling us that “now it is high time to awake out of sleep," calling upon us to "cast off the works of darkness and to put on the 'armor of light," and proclaiming the truth, so startling and yet so little heeded by a world lying in wickedness, "Lo, I COME"!
Such is the language with which we begin our Ecclesiastical year, and, with reverence be it said, the Nineteenth Anniversary of our Parish.
THE FOUNDATION OF THE PARISH.
Nineteen years ago, that good man, whose praise is now in all the Churches, and whose calm, serene and spotless [3/4] life, not even the peculiar crosses of his Pastoral care could possibly disturb, began the services of the Parish of the Advent in an "upper room," at No. 13 Merrimack Street. No doubt the commencement of these services was as unheeded by the great mass of the Christian population of this city as the idle wind—as was the assemblage of the hundred and twenty in an "upper room" at Jerusalem by the busy population of that great city—and yet the event was one which must have awakened the rejoicing congregation of angels; for it was the commencement of a new manifestation of Church life, not in Boston only, but throughout the American branch of the Church of God. The good Rector sent to me, then living in Western New York, his modest Card announcing the services. "Laus Deo," was the spontaneous ejaculation of my heart, as it was of thousands of hearts. In that Card it was said, “The sittings will be free to all." What an announcement to be made nineteen years ago!—proclaiming the old Gospel almost in a new tongue—”Ho, every one that thirsteth come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money come ye, yea, come buy wine and milk without money and without price." In that Card it was also said, “The Church will be supported as all Churches were formerly wont to be, by the voluntary oblation of the worshippers. In accordance with the precepts of the Word of God, and the order of his Church, opportunity will be afforded for each individual, whether young or old, to 'offer his gift upon the altar,' in that part of the divine service which is called 'the offertory.'"
OPEN PEWS AND FREE-WILL OFFERINGS.
What was this but the wand of Moses, striking the rock and unsealing the same old fountain of love and benevolence, which, at different times in Jewish history, had built and re-built the Temple, and which, in Christian history, had erected all the grand Cathedrals in Europe, and in the [4/5] first ages had blessed the Church with enough and more than enough to sustain her poor, her clergy and her missions.
Let the people once understand the whole subject of offerings;—that one tenth of their income at least belongs to God, and should be returned to Him in free-will offerings;—that all his worshippers are expressly required never to appear before Him “empty," but always to bring their gifts and offerings as the evidences of their faith and the tests of their love and the sincerity of their prayers;—that such offerings are especially acceptable to the Lord of hosts, and will secure His mercy and blessing for the Saviour's sake in whose name they are laid upon His altar;—that it is one of the best and richest privileges of the Gospel that they can so consecrate their wealth to God as to lay up treasure in Heaven, and "a foundation against the time to come;" that nothing which they so give can be lost, but must remain forever in the remembrance of God; and that all this is ordained of God, as the appointed mode of sustaining His Church, relying, not upon necessity or compulsion of human laws, but upon the love of Christ constraining us;—let all this be well understood and appreciated as it must be in time, and then we shall have, not from pews sales and rents, not from Shows and Fairs, not from any of the artful contrivances of worldly policy, but from “the oblations of the altar," all that the Church requires to build her Temples, and sustain her Clergy, and support her worship, and enrich her multiplied Institutions of Charity. Christian men and women will love to give, and give because they love, just as freely and gladly as Mary broke the alabaster box of precious ointment and poured it upon the Saviour's head.
Such was the doctrine proclaimed by the Rev. Dr. Croswell, nineteen years ago, at the commencement of the services of this Parish, when he said—”The Church; will be supported as all Churches were formerly wont to be, by 'the voluntary oblation of the worshippers.'” It was not a new [5/6] doctrine, but one which was then so buried under the rubbish of modern improvements, as scarcely to be known, and yet the true doctrine of Holy Scripture. What an act of faith, not simply to proclaim it, but to act upon it, to make it the foundation of earthly support, not for himself and family alone, but for that Parish dearer to him than life, and which he intended should survive all the changes and ravages of time.
Since that time the General Convention of our Church has advised the restoration of the Weekly Offertory as the true method sanctioned by the Word of God for replenishing the treasury of the Church. And at the present time there is such a movement in the Church of England in behalf of Open Pews and the Weekly Offertory as never has been known before in reference to any similar subjects—a movement from which we are told, “It is evident that the better feelings and sympathies of Churchmen of all classes, from the Bishop to the Curate, and from the Earl to the workingman, have been stirred to their depths." Of course in a Sermon I have no space to give an account of this remarkable movement; but at a meeting held in a mid-land County, more than one hundred of the Clergy were present, including many of the most illustrious names in the English Church, letters were read from several of the Bishops expressing the deepest interest in the object of the meeting, and “the large Hall was so densely packed as to make it necessary to adjourn to a larger area." At this meeting the following Resolutions were sustained by most able speeches and passed with acclamation:—First, “That it is most in accordance with Holy Scripture and the Laws of the Church, that accommodation should be provided in all the Churches, without appropriation and without money payment for the same; and, secondly, “That the Weekly Offertory is the best mode of providing funds for the endowment, the maintenance and the extension of the Church." [See Appendix No. 1.] Who then can doubt that [6/7] the principle of open seats and free-will offerings, upon which this Parish was originally founded, is the true principle of the Gospel, and that the movement now agitating the Church of England in. its behalf, will re-act upon the Church in this country with tremendous power, and produce the happiest results.
THE CATECHETICAL TRAINING OF THE YOUNG.
But there is one thing more in that original Card of the Rev. Dr. Croswell which demands our attention. "A prominent object, in addition to the usual offices of worship, will be the thorough catechetical training of the children in the principles and practice of Christ's religion, as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer."
In these words I recognize the very principle upon which we have lately re-organized our Sunday School, not as something separate and distinct from the Church and taking the place of the Church in the affections of the young; but as a most important part of the Church's work “in addition to the usual offices of devotion,"—the one following the other, just as the sermon follows the prayers-first "the usual offices of devotion," and then "the thorough catechetical training of the children." Not teaching merely, but "training;" not “in the principles “only, but “in the practice of Christ's religion;" not as contained in the works and commentaries of individuals however distinguished, but “as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer." [See Appendix No. 2.]
THE CHURCH'S SYSTEM OF EDUCATION.
In these few words is contained the germ of the Church's system of Education, as distinguished from the popular notions of the day—a system more of training than of teaching, more that “this child may lead the rest of his life according [7/8] to this beginning," of faith, love, meekness, docility and submission to rightful authority, than that his mind may be crowded with new thoughts of worldly ambition and knowledge. For we regard our children as members of Christ by Holy Baptism; not in form but in substance, just as much His members or the members of His body the Church, as by their natural birth they are our members or the members of our body, and just as truly as the most advanced Christian, not in the same full communion, but "babes in Christ." If the child comes to its mother and says, “Mother, am I a Christian?” then the Church mother does not say, as she would be compelled to say with heartfelt sadness under the sect system, No! my child, you are not a Christian, but we hope you may be one of these days; she says, with the deepest gratitude to God, Yes, my child, you are a Christian; you were made a Christian in Holy Baptism—“a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the Kingdom of Heaven." There is no broad and awful gulf between us here. We are members together of the same family and household of God—all the privileges and blessings of the new birth into the Christian covenant are as much yours as mine. I love you indeed as my child, but I love you more because you are also the child of God. I have given you to Him, and I know that He has received you by adoption and grace. It is not my love or my fancy which prompts me to say this, but I cannot doubt it, for when the minister received you and took you in his arms and poured upon you the waters of baptism, then he said to me and to all the people, '"Doubt ye not, therefore, but earnestly believe that He—our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ—will likewise favorably receive this present infant, that he will embrace him with the arms of His mercy; that He will give unto him the blessing of eternal life, and make him partaker of His everlasting Kingdom." In this faith you were baptized, and "signed with the sign of the [8/9] cross, in token that hereafter you shall not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified, and manfully to fight under His banner against sin, the world and the devil, and to continue Christ's faithful soldier and servant unto your life's end." Only be faithful to the vow and promise of your baptism, fight manfully against sin, keep innocency, be Christ's faithful soldier and servant to your life's end, and "that shall bring you peace at the last." But if you make shipwreck of faith and a good conscience, then God only knows the horrible punishment which must ensue. But I hope better things of you, and things which accompany salvation, though I thus speak.
Now as based upon this great and most important fact, is the Church's system of education for the Lambs of her flock; emphatically a system of cheerfulness and joy, and yet of discipline and training, "in the principles and practice of Christ's religion," not as undefined, unsettled and dependent upon the ever varying caprices of worldly policy, but as "set forth in the Book of Common Prayer." In that blessed Book,—”next to my Bible," said Adam Clark, "the Book of my understanding and my heart,"—the most abundant provision has been made for the faithful and successful administration of the system. We find that provision in the daily worship, in the Catechism, in the office of Infant Baptism, in the solemn promises exacted of parents and sponsors, in the Apostolic Rite of Confirmation and the preparation required for it, and in the sacred vows and obligations of the Clergy. So far as the system itself is concerned, it is complete and perfect, and can never fail when faithfully carried out in the spirit of love and prayer.
It affords me pleasure to say that, in the commencement which we have made for the fuller development of the educational system of the Church, we have great encouragement. The number of attendants, as well of parents and sponsors as of children, has much increased, and we most [9/10] earnestly solicit the active cooperation and support of all the members of the Parish.
THE BUILDING OF A NEW CHURCH.
I have dwelt longer than I intended upon the Card of Dr. Croswell, issued at the first opening of the services of our Parish, in that "upper room “which soon became so full and overflowing with worshippers, that many were obliged to leave for want of space to sit or stand; and this, notwithstanding the services were increased to three on every Sunday, as at present held.
Then began the longing anxieties of the Pastor for a new and permanent church edifice, not, to use his own language, “of Pagan symbolism, which so annoys me here, and which is so ominous of the slight hold which Christian architecture, as well as Christian association generally, has upon the public mind." After attending the laying of the corner stone of St. Stephen's Chapel, on Easter Monday, 1845, he said, in a letter to his father,—“The scene only increased our longings for the day when that of the Advent shall be laid." And again, in 'another letter a short time afterwards, "If we had as large a church as there is in the city, there would be a gathering of the doves to the windows." But in these longings the good Pastor was sadly disappointed, for the Parish removed to another hall, in the same neighborhood, larger and better indeed, but not a consecrated edifice; and from which they were soon driven, as he expresses it, "by the bustle and din and stunning tide of this thoroughfare, so very unfortunate as a retreat for devotion." Then committees were appointed to procure another place of worship, and at the same time a subscription was started for the erection of a church; and the hopes of the faithful Pastor were awakened to the highest pitch of enthusiasm. “Our affairs," said he, "look very promising; our subscription papers are filling up apace, and we can almost see our new [10/11] church rising as if by magic, and, like the Temple of old, without the sound of axes or hammers." Indeed, so great was the interest excited, that letters were received from New York city, stating, "there are some here who desire to contribute to your new church, and hope you will give them the opportunity." But then came the sad disappointment how sad no published record can show—for it was thought, that “to raise the necessary funds, to select a suitable site, and to erect a new church, would necessarily consume too much time." For this reason, as we are told, the project failed, and this building was procured for the temporary residence of the Deity, and the celebration of His worship;—a building which is now consecrated in our affections by sixteen years of daily prayer as the House of God, and more especially by the almost unearthly splendor of the death of Croswell, who here "fell at his post with all his armor on; with his face to the altar, and with the words of benediction on his lips." "About the time of the evening sacrifice," as it was beautifully said, "the angel touched him and he was called away," from this very spot. Can we wonder that it is inexpressibly sacred? Can we wonder that there should be so much reluctance to leave it, unless for a new church to be associated with his memory, and to constitute his most enduring monument?
Such has been the undoubted design of the Parish; for in the solemn commemorative services which were held on the first anniversary of Dr. Croswell's death, we find that a small part of the offertory was appropriated to the erection of a monument at his grave, as “a special tribute of affection from the ladies of the Parish," and the remainder was added to the fund for building a new Church of the Advent, expressly to be, “a nobler monument still to his memory."
Subsequently, under the administration of my immediate predecessor, the Right Reverend Dr. SOUTHGATE, another effort was made for the erection of a new church—an effort [11/12] which was greatly aided by the active zeal of the late Mr. William F. Otis, who took the deepest interest in it, and which proved well nigh successful, awakening the strongest hopes and congratulations of churchmen every where, and especially those of the earnest, faithful and energetic Rector. What were the particular causes of the failure, I have no means of knowing; but the effort failed, the subscription was mostly lost, and the Bishop soon after resigned his charge.
Now, my brethren, we have made another effort. On the Sunday after Ascension Day last, I had the extreme pleasure of announcing to you that the Corporation of the Parish had fully resolved upon the erection of a new church, provided the necessary funds could be raised;—that they had procured a location sufficiently ample for all present purposes and yet capable of enlargement, not only adapted to the present wants of the Parish, but, as it seemed to me, one of the best, in all this city, for all coming time;—that they had also fixed upon the general plan and outline of the building, having above ground all the rooms which we need for church work—a chapel for Sunday School and the Daily Service, which may be opened into the main building, a recess chancel of thirty feet square, and a nave of one hundred and twenty feet. In my sermon on that occasion, I stated my own opinion of the plan, which remains entirely unchanged;—that it presented a building in some respects unlike any other, as growing out of the location, just as the oak is fashioned to its place, and yet a true church of the most admirable architectural beauty and proportions, capable of growth, capable of every kind of memento, memorial and monument, with which pious affection may wish to adorn it in all future ages, and so thoroughly ecclesiastical, that every beholder would at least be constrained to say,—”This is none other but the House of God and the very gate of Heaven."
At the same time I made the suggestion of what a blessing it [12/13] would be, if the required sum for the erection of the new church should be brought to the altar on the following Sunday. Of course I did not anticipate it would be, for the reason not only that the time was too short, but that it might be impossible, especially in the case of those whose subscriptions were likely to be the largest. The offering, however, exceeded my anticipations, and afforded an earnest of what might have been obtained by the active and energetic exertions of the Committee appointed by the Corporation.
In the midst of these proceedings, the death of a member of my family called me away from home, and, during my absence, I learned with more pain and sorrow than I know well how to express, that the Committee had resolved for the present to suspend all further action in the matter. Indeed I can say, with truth, that I know of no domestic trial or personal affliction which could possibly have produced such an overwhelming sorrôw and sinking of heart and life. From that time to the present, I have not ceased to pray to God for grace and strength to enable me to bow, with becoming submission and resignation, to this dispensation of His providence. And yet I know not how to submit—how to be resigned, nor whether indeed it is my duty; for the calmness of one day is followed by the agitation of the next—wave after wave, storm after storm, as though some higher power was contending with me and telling me, "it must not be." Such a conflict of feeling may not be commendable, and yet I do not know that it would be any reproach, if we could say, with our Saviour, “The zeal of thy house hath eaten me up." I do know that almost the only thing to which He would not submit, and the only thing in which He seems to have been carried away by the impulses of an indignant holy passion, is recorded in the Gospel for this day, and was produced by "the zeal of God's house."
I do know that the Apostles were often constrained to differ greatly in judgment from the best and wisest people around [13/14] them, and hence it was one of their maxims, "If we should seek to please men, we should not be the servants of Christ." I do know that their zeal for some particular doctrine or course of action, often subjected them to the charge of madness or folly, and hence their reply, "Whether we be beside ourselves it is to God, or whether we be sober, it is for your cause." Let this, then, be my apology, if apology is needed, that wise or foolish, sane or insane, my object is the glory of God in the building up of His Church; my heart's desire and prayer, the salvation of your souls.
Brethren beloved, I cannot leave this subject without the adding of one reflection, which should always be the groundwork of charity—.that you do not look at all upon the erection of a new church from the same stand-point that I do. My thoughts and feelings about it, do not arise in the least from the mere contemplation of the wants and necessities of our own Parish; for these absolute wants and necessities can no doubt be supplied in Hall or MeetingHouse. I think of the Protestant Episcopal Church in this city; of her depressed and miserable condition as represented by her public buildings; that they are not the speaking monuments and evidences of her faith and wisdom and liberality as they ought to be; and "it pitieth me to see her in the dust." I think of her sad and sorrowful failures which have occurred over and over and over again, in church-building, and I want to wipe out the disgrace.
Last Sunday, on my way to St. Mark's Church, I passed a large and ample Lot, on one of the principal Avenues of the city,—a Lot which was once almost given to the Church by the authorities of the city, on condition that she should erect a suitable building; but from the apathy of churchmen that lot has passed out of our hands, and is now covered by a magnificent Gothic structure belonging to our brethren of the Methodist communion. A short distance off, I came to the Church of St. Mark, tasteful and beautiful in its way, [14/15] but altogether a temporary structure of wood, with battened sides, so frail, that you feel as though the ordinary winds of heaven would blow it away, and standing upon a lot so narrow and cramped, as to show how grudgingly even that small space had been given to the Lord. From St. Mark's Church, after service, I passed on to Harrison Avenue, and looked for the first time into the Church of the Immaculate Conception—so large, so grand, so "magnifical," as to make you feel almost in another world; surrounded by the amplest grounds, nothing narrow, nothing contracted, nothing mean; room enough for the people, room enough for the chancel, room enough for the altar, room enough for the solemnities of worship; a building of marble, all costing a larger sum than I should dare to name, gathered no doubt by the sweat and tears and prayers of the poor; and such an evidence of faith in God, and in the principles of their own Church, as no Protestant denomination in this city has yet been able to produce.
Now as an American Catholic Priest, neither Romanist nor sectarian, feeling myself allied, not to this Parish or that Parish, in a mere congregational sense, but to that only Body of Christ, which, in this country, is the ordained conservator and dispenser of the true faith of the Gospel, for the millions of God's people, I cannot rest contented with our present state. of contrasted apathy, indifference and disgrace; and “for Zion's sake I will not rest, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not hold my peace."
The more I think and meditate upon the subject, and study the facts of history, the more I am persuaded that all true and lasting reformations must begin with the “House of God." When we build up His house, God will raise up His worshippers to fill it. And in proportion as we make His house the representative of proper ideas of his glorious majesty, in the same proportion will “the glorious majesty of the Lord our God be upon us and prosper the work of [15/16] our hands." Hence it is my firm conviction that the mightiest lever which this Parish can use in order to raise the whole Church around us from the dust, would be the erection of a suitable Temple to His honor and glory, "for reading His holy word, for celebrating His holy sacraments, for offering to His glorious majesty the sacrifices of prayer and thanksgiving, for blessing the people in His name, and for the performance of all other holy offices." I believe that almost every other Parish in the city and neighborhood would at once catch the inspiration, and “arise and build "; that a vast amount of wealth now flowing in other channels outside of the Church, would be attracted to this, the best and most permanent of all investments for the benefit of mankind; that all our Schools and Colleges and Hospitals and Missions would feel the impulses of a new life;—that our church people, lifting up their heads with exultation and joy, would feel an interest in the Church which they have never felt before; and that other Church Institutions for the prevention of human misery and the promotion of human happiness, would gradually spring into being "as if by magic, and without the sound of axes or hammers." For all these blessings must come from "the House of God and the offices thereof," as “help from the Sanctuary and strength out of Zion." They are the streams from the Church, and it is impossible for the streams to rise higher than the fountain, and equally impossible for the fountain to be filled without replenishing the streams.
With this brief and most unsatisfactory exposition of my thoughts and feelings, I again commend the subject to your sympathies, your liberality and your prayers.
The statistics of the Parish exhibit an unusual degree of prosperity, especially when we take into consideration the unsettled state of the country, and the fears which were [16/17] entertained at the commencement of the year. Baptisms—Infants, 32; adults, 11; total, 43. Confirmed, 22; Communicants added, 23; total, 496. The list of communicants, as well as of additions to the communion, is, I regret to say, exceedingly unreliable, owing to the irregular manner in which persons are in the habit of changing their parochial relations. We hope, on getting into our new place of worship, to have an entire new census of the Parish, and to make arrangements for the systematic visitation of every family and every communicant. For the information of communicants, let me call your attention to Canon 12, Title 2, of the General Convention. "A communicant removing from one Parish to another, shall procure from the Rector (if any) of the Parish of his last residence, or, if there be no Rector, from one of the Wardens, a certificate stating that he or she is a communicant in good standing; and the Rector of the Parish or Congregation to which he or she removes, shall not be required to receive him or her as a communicant until such letter be produced."
The attendance upon the Daily Service has been as follows: from Advent, 1862, to Lent, 1863, daily average, 20; Litany days, 40;—from Lent to Passion Week, daily average, 100;—Passion Week, the attendance was very large, full congregations almost as on Sunday, and too many to count;—from Easter to Trinity, daily average, 30; Litany days, 44;—from Trinity to Advent, daily average, 22; Litany days, 37.
The Weekly Communion has more than fulfilled our expectations, in the number of weekly participants, and I doubt not in "the benefits and blessings which we reap thereby." Many interesting occurrences have taken place in connection with it, showing the special advantages of such a frequent administration of the Holy Communion in a city like ours. As for instance, fathers and brothers suddenly called to join the army, have been enabled, before [17/18] leaving home, to commune with their families. Persons returning from sea, have found it a great comfort that they could make their thank-offerings and renew their vows of love and fidelity to God, in the holy Eucharist, as the first act of public worship on coming to our shores. Others, almost at the time of their departure hence, have providentially been led to receive the Holy Communion, as it were, in preparation for their death and burial, when, without its frequent administration, they must have been deprived of it then, so suddenly have they been called away. Parents and children about to separate, perhaps forever, have thus enjoyed, in their last act of worship in the Church, the communion of saints and the benediction of God, in these pledges of His eternal and everlasting love.
The amount of offerings reported to me by the Treasurer, is $17,869.91
For the Clergy $3,806 76 For Music 1,609 24 For Incidental Expenses 1,297 74 For a new Bell 197 66 For Church-building 9,535 00 For Diocesan Convention 25 00 For Support of the Bishop 500 00 For The Poor 266 52 For General Theological Seminary 20 00 For Society for Widows and Orphans 77 05 For Nashotah 146 00 For Minnesota 216 00 For Domestic Missions 4 63 For Trinity Church, Gloucester 6 00 For Church in Kansas 62 31 For Education of a young man for the Ministry, at Racine College 100 00 Total, $17,869 91
In addition, there has been reported to me, as collected from individuals of the Parish, as follows:—
For Griswold College $90 00 For Theological Seminary 100 00 For Trinity College 100 00 For Applegate 50 00 For Church in Canada 70 00 For Foreign Missions 12 00 For Society for Increase of the Ministry 100 00 For Tract Society 5 00 For Church in Brighton 100 00 For Church in Hyde Park 255 00 For Church in Epping, N.H. 70 00 For Church in Kansas 3 00 For Church in Pittsfield, N.H. 200 00 For Bishop Whipple's Library 100 00 For Thank Offering for Bishop Whipple's Library 20 00 For Nashotah, Mrs. M. B. Northampton 20 00 For St. Stephen's House 621 57 For Church in Gloucester, Mass. 300 00 Through the Alms Chest for the Poor 901 23 $3,117 80 Total, $20,989 71
What might not such a noble and generous Parish do, were we only of “one heart and one mind," in the building of a new Church!
Brethren beloved, in the animating and awakening Epistle for this day, the Apostle is endeavoring to guard the Church against those great and enormous 'evils to which her members had been addicted in their heathen state, and which, from his time to ours, have constituted the besetting sins and vices of the world. But in order to accomplish the [19/20] object of his exhortation, he does not merely tell them what these excesses are, and that they must be avoided, on peril of the salvation of their souls; he does not say, as the mere moralist would have said—instead of rioting and drunkenness, chambering and wantonness, strife and envy, put on temperance, put on chastity, put on charity, cultivate the opposite virtues—but he rises at once to the dignity of his character and position as an Apostle of Christ, and utters the quickening and new creating truth,—”It is high time to awake out of sleep"! “The night is far spent, the day is at hand"! And then, as the only way in which the soul can possibly be reclaimed from sin, pollution and death, and changed into the image of God, he says,—"Put on the Lord Jesus Christ"!—be clothed with Him—in His armor of light. “Make not provision for the flesh, to full the lusts thereof"! “Put on Christ," His wisdom, His righteousness, His sanctification, His redemption. Stand in His great might. Be content with nothing short "of the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."
“Centred in Christ, who fires the soul within,
The flesh shall know no pain, the soul no sin,
E'en in the terrors of expiring breath,
We bless the friendly hand, and live in death."
THE OPEN CHURCH MOVEMENT.
PUBLIC MEETING OF THE SHREWSBURY CENTRAL ASSOCIATION.
(Abstract from Eddowes' Journal, Sept. 2.)
For some time past the approach of this great meeting has been anticipated by the public with feelings of exceeding interest. More than twelve months ago the Open Church Movement ventured to stir itself, in a tentative degree, in this town, and coming suddenly, as it did, upon us, it had to state and explain its objects and intentions, to remove many prejudices, and bear with patience the obstacles which usually oppose themselves to all schemes for effecting good. But its promoters persevered in the road which lay before them, and, as time went on, the truth and charity of the principles which they professed burst so irresistibly on the minds of the public generally on all sides, that eventually, as our advertising columns have shown, the Shrewsbury Central Association for Promoting the Open Church Movement challenged doubts and difficulties by such an array of good names and true, that it was evident that the better feelings and sympathies of Churchmen of all classes, from the Bishop to the curate, and from the earl to the working man, had been stirred to their depths . . . . . . .
The first meeting was accordingly held in the large room at the Shire-hall, in this town, on Monday last, the Right Hon. the Viscount Newport, M. P., taking the chair. . . . .
The noble Chairman, said,--Ladies and gentlemen, in opening the proceedings of this meeting, I do not propose to detain yeu at any length, because there are others who, I hope, will follow me, who are prepared to state to this meeting the objects for which it is called together, and who will, I hope, place before us such facts, and in such a manner, as to show that the desire of those who have called this meeting [21/22] together, is to promote the efficiency of the Church of England throughout this land, and to especially increase the opportunities for public worship which are afforded to the lower classes, so that they may have equal advantages, in that respect, with those who, in social position, are placed above them
We all know very well that it is one of the most difficult problems of the present day, how you can increase the accommodation in our churches so as to meet the continually increasing population of this country. And my opinion is, and has been for a long time—for I have not taken up the matter lately—that the Church of England never can be expected to do its duty properly, in a social point of view, if the area of its churches be appropriated to the upper and middle classes. (Great cheering.) . .
The letter from the Bishop of Litchfield, which I read to you, shows his feeling on the subject, and the Archbishop of Canterbury has also given his name to a branch of this association formed at Sheffield; and I will only say that there are no two men in this kingdom whose opinions I would take upon matters of the Church before those of the two distinguished prelates I have named. (Enthusiastic applause.)
The proceedings of the meeting were more than once delayed a considerable time, owing to the fruitless efforts of many people to obtain room.
Archdeacon Allen moved the first resolution--
"That it is most in accordance with the Holy Scriptures and the laws of the Church that accommodation should be provided in all the churches, without appropriation, and without money payment for the same."
He said—in rising, in obedience to Mr. Tomlins' instructions, to speak to the first resolution, I must ask you not to understand me as going beyond its strict letter. I think it absolutely necessary in our old parish churches that the illegal traffic in the selling and letting of pews should entirely cease
So far as the grievance of pew-letting has come under my observation it is chiefly felt in our old parish churches, where, against the plain teaching of Scripture, we so often see the worshippers in goodly apparel boxed up in high pens of excellent joinery—pens helping sleep and hindering. prayer, making devout kneeling almost an impossibility; and those in viler raiment sent to sit in bad places, on benches against the wall, where the passers stumble over them . . . . .
It is plain that this pew system is against the teaching of Scripture, which makes it distinctive of the Gospel that it should be freely preached to the poor. If we look at the arrangements of many of our churches, we might almost fancy that they were fitted with the express purpose of embodying in good oak and Hanoverian green baize a [22/23] material practical protest against the teaching of St. James. And as these pews are against Scripture, so also do they nourish in the hearts of the worshippers feelings most hurtful to the growth of Christianity. For what can be more hurtful to the growth of Christianity than the cultivation of a feeling in church—”Stand apart from me; my pew is my castle; no one has a right to enter in"? We shall never be truly Christian in our feelings until we feel, from the bottom of our hearts, that we are unworthy of the lowest room in God's house; that kneeling at the door-sill, if we had our deserts, is too good a place for us sinners.
I have known cases in our parish churches where a worshipper, coming to his accustomed pew and finding a stranger there, would stand at the door, though there be abundance of room for both, as much as to say, “I will not come in until you come out." One result which I hope will follow from the discussion of this matter is, that the churchwardens, as I have known it clone in certain instances, will (where there is need) themselves do their legal office, and seat the worshippers orderly and conveniently, so as hest to provide for the accommodation of all.
The Rev. A. J. Pigott, of Battlefield, said—The subject is indeed one which has been so often and so fully debated, that I confess I despair of being able to throw any additional light upon it. In the first place let me say that, in speaking to this resolution, I desire so to express myself as to avoid giving any just grounds for being misunderstood, if misunderstood I should be, by those who at present do not feel themselves fully prepared cordially to support the great cause we have so much at heart. When, then, we talk of free and open churches, let it be well understood by all, that we are neither revolutionists ourselves, nor have we any sympathy whatever with revolutionists—least of all with those whose openly avowed design is to make our parish churches free and open to all sects and denominations for the performance of their respective religious services. Such a measure as that would be a far more serious perversion of our holy places from their original and appropriate destination than even the modern pew system in its most exaggerated form; for our parish churches would henceforth become so many towers of Babel and confusion to attract to our land the lightning of the wrath of Heaven, instead of continuing to be what I believe they now are, and ever have been, so many electric conductors to avert it. If, then, we are not revolutionists, it may be asked what we are? and I answer that we are church-restorers, nothing more, and nothing less. (Applause.) Our object being to restore to all classes of Churchmen their right to a free seat in their parish church; more [23/24] especially to make restitution to the poor; that the humblest inhabitant of our land, that the most destitute pauper that knows not where else to find a spiritual resting. place, may be able to enter her sacred courts, and to feel himself upon an equality of Christian brotherhood with the noblest and wealthiest of his fellow-creatures. And I desire, for one, to take my part with those around me by doing what in me lies to bring it to pass, that when on the Lord's day, and on other days, the hells of our parish churches summon their several flocks to the fold, the invitation which their sober melody conveys may be of no narrow or exclusive kind, but as comprehensive as the Church herself, and inclusive of all her children alike, without any distinction of rank or condition, without any respect of persons, without any partiality to those who have an ampler share of this world's goods. I desire, I say, to see the advent of that day, when the chimes of our church bells, sounding forth their morning and evening call to prayer, may no longer grate harshly upon the ear of any, nor be associated with a sense of injustice in the minds of the humbler classes; so that those who pay not one farthing may be entitled as their indefeasible birthright to attend without let or hindrance upon the ministration of God's holy word and sacraments; and that liberty, equality, and fraternity, in the true and Christian sense of those much-abused words, may prevail within our sanctuaries, and be there recognized in act and in deed, as they are already recognized in word and profession. (Loud cheers.) And the society which comes forward to advocate this important principle, is not, be it observed, enunciating anything which is new, but is simply vindicating and enforcing that which is old; its object is not to remodel the parochial system, but only to reassert it; its aim is not to remove the ancient landmarks, but only to disinter them; its design is not, in the spirit of speculative wilfulness, to innovate, but simply to renovate and restore; to. raise the Church of England nearer to that platform on which she originally stood, and so to re-establish her in our towns and cities, no less than in our rural parishes, as the preacher of Christ's Gospel to the poor. (Loud applause.) But if in contending for free and open churches we are contending for the old and primitive ways and customs, which are coeval with Christianity—nay, which are themselves part and parcel of Christianity, it is no less true that in protesting against the pew system, as it exists at present, we are protesting against an innovation of comparatively recent growth; though I admit that the spirit from which it sprung was at work in the Apostles' days, for it is on record that the reception into the Church, with undue distinction, of the man with the gold ring and goodly apparel, was made a matter of rebuke by the Apostle St. James. For sixteen centuries the pew system, according to its modern use and idea, was unknown [24/25] in this Church of England. In bad times that bad precedent was made. And surely, those days must have been evil days, wherein there arose and prevailed so widely a system based upon a practical denial of that fundamental axiom of Christianity, that rich and poor are brethren in Christ; a system chargeable with the crime of selfishly misappropriating to the exclusive use of the few what was originally designed for the common use and common benefit of all Churchmen. And as the pew system is evil in its origin, and evil in its principle, it is no marvel that it should be evil also in its results. For how can a corrupt system any more than a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit? What a' heartsore it has been, what jealousies and contentions it has engendered, let its history tell from its first establishment to the present hour. The pew system has exercised a pernicious influence upon ourselves; it has done more than anything else to blind our spiritual sense to the full perception of a first principle of our holy religion; it has cherished and fostered in our hearts that natural selfishness towards God and towards man which the Church's system, with its free and open sanctuaries, is specially designed by its Divine Author to correct and contravene. “Sirs, ye are brethren," is the voice of God and of his Church to rich and poor, and in proportion as the pew system has encroached upon us, in the same proportion have we failed to recognize in all its fulness the fundamental truth which that voice proclaims. We may cloke ourselves in the mantle of sanctity, but what shall it profit so long as the panoply of worldly pride and exclusiveness bristles beneath it? We may give all our goods to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, but what will that avail us so long as we withhold from our poor Christian brother the possession and enjoyment of that which is his almost only inheritance here, and his assistant and passport to an immortal inheritance in another and better world (Cheers.) And when I say that the pew system is injurious to the highest and best interests of the humbler classes, I do not so much declare a truth as express a truism. The pew system has made for them straiter still the area of the parish church, which, through the rapid increase of population, had become too strait already; and too many instances there are in our towns and cities where the doors of the parish church have been almost, if not altogether, closed against them. Under such circumstances can we wonder that the humbler classes, in large numbers, having become outcasts from their church, should have become also aliens to their God?
The strength of the Church lies not in the favor of princes, premiers or Parliaments, but it lies, under God, in the affections of the multitude; and the surest way to establish the Church in the affections of the multitude, is to make her once more what at present in our towns [25/26] and cities she certainly is not, but what she must become again ere long, the poor man's church. (Vehement cheers.) The Church must shelter, defend, and dignify the poor, and then the poor will look up to the Church with affection, will cling to her, and stand by her. Then there will be less of Chartism, socialism, and sectarianism, and less of the hidden working of morbid feelings among 'all classes; for the Church will “satisfy them with the plenteousness of her house, and will give them drink out of her pleasures as out of the river." But while I desire to stand side by side with this society in protesting against the injustice of any one entrenching himself within the walls of the parish church, in his separate pew, as in his castle, to the exclusion of others equally with himself members of the same household of faith—while I contend that no length of time, no human legislation, no court of earthly judicature can render invalid pleas which are valid in the high court of Heaven, or rightfully bar the poor man's claim to a free seat in his parish church—I am nevertheless disposed to trust to time, that greatest and safest of reformers, and to the progress of sounder principles, and above all, to the blessing of God, on the efforts of patient and self-denying spirits, to remedy the enormous wrongs which the modern pew system has inflicted and is inflicting upon all classes alike. And the day, I humbly think, is not far distant when the question now so much discussed shall be settled to the general satisfaction; when with more self-denying habits and feelings we shall be prepared for an arrangement, which, while preserving order and preventing confusion, shall protect the poor man's rights in such a way as shall be welcome b his feelings; when the force of a sound public opinion, the power of good examples, and a better appreciation of the principle involved in an important article of the Christian's creed—”the communion of saints," bound one to another in the same holy fellowship, shall eventually enfranchise the floor of the parish church as the common property of all Churchmen. That will, indeed, be a happy day for this country which shall witness the re-establishment everywhere of free and open sanctuaries; no greater impetus could be given to the cause of Church extension, and to the efforts we are making everywhere to provide for that crying want of so many of our countrymen—the knowledge of their God; no more effectual method could be devised for winning back to the Church the multitudes that are now either bewildered by strange doctrines, or else are reckless of any, and are wandering on all sides of us as sheep that have no fold. And therefore I pray that God, in His mercy, would speed the coming of that day which shall clear the area of our sanctuaries of the usurpations and encroachments which have for too long a period desecrated the holy places of the Most High; the day which shall reinscribe upon the free and open portals of the Church [26/27] of England, "This is the poor man's sanctuary;" and which shall at the same time re-imprint also upon her venerable brow the glorious title of “Nationality." (Loud and protracted cheering.)
Mr. J. R. Kenyon moved the following resolution:--
"That the weekly Offertory is the best mode of providing funds for the endowment, the maintenance, and the extension of the Church."
He said—In venturing to address you at all on a subject of this kind it shall be my earnest endeavor to speak with all charity of things which have passed, and earnestly to impress upon every body that such a movement as that which is contemplated by the society now before us is a movement which must be conducted not only upon principles of justice, but upon principles of charity, in the best and most extended sense of that word. The work itself is an object of charity. The great end and object to which we direct our attention are the extending the means of grace to all our fellow-creatures. The great object we have in view is to make available to others the means of attending the ministrations of the Church, which we ourselves enjoy, and which our Creator and Redeemer has established for our good. It was for this purpose that our parish churches were originally established. They were built and endowed that all might have the advantages of the teaching and preaching of the Church, and that all might be united in faith, hope and charity here, as they hope to be united hereafter. .' . . . The principle I would advocate is purely Scriptural, and it is that each person should give according to his ability, and according to the heart which God has given him to dispose rightly of those gifts entrusted to him. 'We would ask, in the words of the resolution which I read to you, that each person should make his offering weekly, according to what God has blessed him with, and he will feel that he makes it to the Almighty God. This mode does not tend in any way to feelings of vanity or ostentation on the part of those who give much, or to feelings of humiliation on the part of those who are only able to give little. The members of this society are giving the means of grace to society, teaching them their duties, and enabling them to perform them. It is the duty of Christians, it is the policy of statesmen, for it tends to make good men and good subjects, and binds all classes in holy unity. That is a principle of strength, for unity is strength; and that is a principle we may humbly hope will bring with it the blessing of Almighty God, for it is trying to do His work according to His will and by His means. I commend this matter to you as the poor man's question. It is for the poor man we plead, but it is at the same time the rich man's privilege and the rich man's blessing, and its object and result will be the blessing of all. (Loud cheers.)
 The Rev. W. Fraser, D.C.L., Vicar of Alton, Staffordshire, said that the resolution which he rose to second was one the terms of which did not admit of being questioned. The resolution stated that the weekly Offertory was the best mode of providing funds for church extension. Of course it was the best mode, for it was the scriptural mode. Holy Scripture had prescribed the mode in which the donations of Christians were to be gathered in—viz., by collections on the first day in every week; and our Church, guided by the scriptural precept, had embodied that method in her services. The Church of England was a reformed Church. (Applause.) Three centuries ago she had cleared away the accumulated abuses of ages with which her services had become incrusted, and had reformed herself according to the primitive model as set before us in the Bible. Therefore, at the Reformation, she restored the weekly Offertory in accordance with the direction of St. Paul to the Corinthians. In the time which had elapsed since the Reformation, abuses had again crept in. One of these was that the primitive and scriptural Offertory had degenerated into the empty form of a few communicants putting a shilling a-piece into a plate after the bulk of the congregation had left the church. This was fulfilling neither the command of Scripture nor the practice of the Church. He called upon them as Protestants to rid their Church of this abuse by obeying the plain letter of Scripture, and by adding the weekly thank-offering for weekly mercy and weekly prosperity to their other devotions in church. But not only was the Offertory to be advocated on the high ground of the authority of the Word of God, which, as Christians, we were not at liberty to dispute, but it might also be recommended on motives of the truest policy. A clever man who understood human nature well had once given this piece of advice—”If you wish to make converts, do not give money to them; take money from them." (Laughter and applause.) That was a rule that the Nonconformists acted largely on. They got their congregations together, and kept them together, and attached them to their chapels, not by bribing them to come to them, but by taking their money in a constant and systematic plan of collections. Thus they attached them to their own body in the firmest way. The Church might learn a useful lesson from them in this respect, and, in addition to warming the devotions of her children by her glorious liturgy, and instructing their intellects by her sermons, she might rivet their affections to herself by chains which nothing could break, by giving them the opportunity of sanctifying their free-will offerings of thankfulness for blessings received by laying them upon her altars. It was the duty of the Church to cherish the emotion of devotional gratitude. If this were done systematically and generally, not merely in a church here and there, but through the [28/29] length and breadth of the land, no one could doubt but that an immense influx of the means of usefulness would be poured into the storehouse of the Church.
The Offertory ought to be the grand source of the revenue of the Church, and as the Queen had her revenues provided for the various emergencies of the State, so should the Church also have her revenues regularly gathered in, and regularly and systematically applied to the mighty work of progress which was before her. For they must remember the Church could not stand still. Her watchword was “onward." Non progredi est regredi was the very condition of her existence. And had she not an immense sphere of work lying open to her, work to be done among the heathen at home, as well as work to be done among the heathen abroad? Funds must be found for this. Africa and Madagascar were calling upon her; China and Japan seemed opening to her message. She dared not stop. "Finality" was a word her lips were never to utter. Means to sustain her exertions and to fulfil her duties were every day more imperatively needed. Those means could be provided in the best, because in the most scriptural way, by the Offertory made week by week. Let them adopt that scriptural method, and so extend the power of the Gospel, and make their Church “a praise upon earth." (Applause.)
Archdeacon Ffoulkes moved the following resolution:—”That the members of this association pledge themselves to use their influence to support the principles of the association, as far as circumstances permit." He said—It is much easier to theorise than to practise; it is very easy for us to denounce the past and advocate new systems, but we know that people will cling to old customs and practices, and there is very great difficulty in removing even well-known evils. I feel, therefore, in dealing with the question, that we must act in the spirit of the utmost kindness and charity.
The Rev. W.H. Egerton, of Whitchurch, said—My Lords, Ladies, and Gentlemen—If I did not believe that the questions we have been discussing to-day have a most important bearing upon the “work of the ministry, and the edifying of the body of Christ," I should have shrunk from addressing this grave assembly. But the experience of nearly thirty years in the ministry has proved to me that the system which the National Association seeks to remove is one which binds the Church in chains, and tends to destroy her very Catholicity, by making her the Church of the few, and not the Church of the many. And it is my calm deliberate conviction that the only remedy for the evils we [29/30] deplore consists in throwing open all our churches from one end of the land to the other, that freedom of access to the means of grace may be commensurate with the freedom of the Gospel which we preach. The' tone of the resolution which I have the honor to support is no less wise than moderate. It pledges the members to use their influence "to carry out the principles of the association as far as circumstances permit." The circumstances of the different churches vary in different localities. All may be groaning under the same malady, but the mode of applying the remedy may vary. 1st. There is the case of the London churches. A case beset with complications, upon which I scarcely venture to speak, except to observe that there must be something wrong about the present system when churches which are built expressly for the poor (like St. Stephen's Church, Westminster), are said to be filled with the wrong people—by which is meant that rich people from other parishes are found to occupy the church. They come to the door with their chariots and horses, because they know that seats are reserved for them. But in the same densely peopled district, we have a noble specimen of freedom of worship in the free services in the nave of the Abbey, A few years ago that glorious nave was cold and silent and dreary. Now the voice of prayer and praise ascends on high. On the last occasion when I attended the service, I was among the publicans and sinners at the west end. All around were attentive and orderly in behavior. One poor woman near me gazed on the preacher with fixed eyes, her hands clasped together, and as he spoke of “Jesus and the resurrection," a new hope seemed to dawn upon her, and a tear fell from her cheek. And then, when all arose to praise God, the words of the Old Hundredth Psalm bore a new meaning as they ascended from the mass of worshippers, “All people that on earth do dwell, sing to the Lord with cheerful voice." Then the case of new churches and districts where the income of the clergyman depends mainly upon pew-rents, is indeed a delicate matter to touch. If the acts of the National Association tended to deprive the clergymen of those districts of their income, few we may hope would be found to sanction the proceeding. But what is the fact? The simple, the inexpensive, the unoppressive, the scriptural mode of collecting money (the Offertory), is found, wherever it has been tried, to yield a large and more certain income than pew rents.
Then again, there is the case of Parish Churches—which were originally ample for the population—but which by reason of being boarded into boxes called “pews "—and these appropriated or bought up and rented, have become quite inadequate for the parishioners, and the poor have been driven to a few free benches, and eventually from the church doors. Hence the "fons et origo mali." It is this that leads to all the consequences we deplore. It is this that tells so fearfully on the [30/31] progress of the Church's work. It is this that irritates people and turns them away from the Church—and fosters jealousy and strife among us. It is this that introduces pride and isolation, instead of humility, unity, and concord. (Cheers.) It is a grievance to all concerned. To the clergyman who sees empty spaces in the house of God, when he knows there are numbers outside who would be thankful to occupy them. It meets him at every stage of his parochial visitations. It brings all his auxiliary machinery to a dead lock. It hinders the fulfilment of his commission to preach the Gospel to "every creature." It is a grievance to the pew occupier to let him lounge in a large pew unconscious of wrong to others, and to lay upon him that which belongs to the system to which by usage he has become accustomed. To the pew-opener, for in that moment of gratitude and almost wonder at getting a good sitting, we are apt to slip a shilling in the pew-opener's hand—an unfair' temptation in God's house. To the poor who are excluded it is a grievance, and to the Dissenter. And then we often hear the high price that is given for a pew used as an argument for the popularity of the Church. Popularity! It shows what a sum is requisite to make her as dreary and unpopular as possible—to buy up a space which belongs by law in common to all the parishioners. (Cheers.) But that which costs a rich man a handful of money, costs the Church that which cannot be bought with “the gold of Ophir, with the ruby, the topaz, or the diamond." It costs her the hearts of her people! But this assembly may well be taken as a proof that better and brighter days have already dawned. The National Association is increasing in influence, We can scarcely take up a Church paper without seeing an account of the projected building, or the consecration of a free church. Many old parish churches, too, have, by the unanimous consent of the vestry, become free. Nothing short of this will, as I believe, meet the case. No decennial appropriations—no triennial sales—no annual lettings and hireings—no tacit understandings will suffice. I have in my mind the case of a noble church in which everything was done in a right direction short of its being perfectly free. All honor to the clergymen and church wardens, and all their supporters. The church was splendidly restored—money rights surrendered. There was no faculty—no actual appropriation—doors removed—sittings made uniform. At last, when the great work was made complete, unfortunately, with the best intentions, a friendly invitation was issued to' the parishioners to send in the number of sittings required by each family. Before that fatal invitation the church was sufficient for all; after it, numbers were excluded. Families of two sent in a claim for four, of four for six, of six for eight, and so on. Oh! that the doors had been flung open (as in the ease of Warrington and Nantwich), and that the congregation had been led to [31/32] settle itself. It is my belief that a murmur would not have been heard afterwards. (Great applause.)
This leads me to notice one or two objections of a popular kind against free churches. The first is founded, as I believe, upon a popular error—namely, that the church-wardens are bound to assign the pews to parishioners. The utmost extent of the church-wardens' duty is to find sittings, a very different thing from pews. I have yet to learn that the National Association sets itself against the authority of the Ordinary, or his officials, the church-wardens, or the law. By all means let the church-wardens preside over the arrangement of the congregation. But what if it be found that when the church is free the congregation arrange themselves in the most orderly and seemly manner, to the perfect satisfaction of all classes! Then, I say, “Othello's occupation's gone." But it is said that classes will intermix in a free church in an unseemly manner, and the case usually advanced is that of a delicately nurtured young lady, the squire's daughter, being compelled to sit between two laboring men, whose Sunday coats are not free from the smoke of tobacco. One would pity the young lady, but the laborer would be more to be pitied. For there is that native sensitive courtesy in an English laboring man that would render him quite unhappy in such a position. But the objection is not borne out by fact. The squire's family would never be molested in a free church. Under the pew system it is otherwise. Not long since I was looking at a recently restored church, in company with a most excellent man, the neighboring squire, also a clergyman, who had taken a great interest in the church and spent considerable money upon it. Observing a shade over his countenance, I said, “Is all well?" "No," was the reply; "the fact is that an agent and his family consider that their dignity is somewhat compromised by the position assigned to their pew by the faculty, so they have come half an hour before church and seat themselves in the pew that has been assigned to my family." “Such," I replied, “would never have occurred had the church been free." Families are found practically to be able to sit together in a free church who were separated before.
Another common objection is that we are destroying old associations. I have read graphic descriptions of the place where a child first heard the word of God, and then have been asked, "Would you destroy these?" Now, the associations of childhood in church not many years ago would have been connected with the square pew where the members of the family sit looking at each other. Recently I spent a Sunday from home, and after waiting at the church door for some time was invited into a small square high pew, lined with old baize of the peculiar faded green which has so captivated Mr. Millais. In the adjoining [32/33] pew were two children with their mother. A system of telegraphic despatches was carried on all the while between the children in opposite corners; at last the message conveyed was so pleasant as to result in open laughter. No; I suspect the association connected with the old pew system is not unaptly described by the child of the Dissenter, who was taken by his father to church. After a sound sleep on a soft cushion in a deep pew, when the congregation were leaving the church, the child exclaimed, "Eh! father, what a jolly place that is." (Loud laughter.) God forbid that I should not take a serious view of this objection. Oh, we would have everything that is holy, and impressive, and lasting associated in the mind with the remembrance of our early days in church. The religio loci should be attached to a church in which rich and poor meet together to worship God; in which all the seats range eastwise, so that face cannot meet face to disturb the devotion of a child, and in which if the eye wanders towards the font it is met with the inscription, “Suffer little children to come unto me; “or towards the altar, “I will wash my hands in innocency, and so will I go to Thine altar;" or upwards, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men." Then would association of ideas connect worship on earth with the heavenly adoration above. Then would bitterness, and anger, and malice, which now gather round this pew system, cease; and men of all shades of opinion, of all classes, and of all sects, when they saw the Church loving mercy, doing justly, and walking humbly with her God, would join in one prayer, “Peace be within thy walls, and plenteousness within thy palaces." (Enthusiastic applause.)
SUNDAY SCHOOL INSTRUCTION.
Extract from a Sermon on the subject of SUNDAY SCHOOLS, by the
Rector of the Church of the Advent, preached Sept. 20, 1863.
No doubt the fact is well known to most persons here present, that the efficiency and usefulness of Sunday Schools have of late been seriously called in question. Their practical results in sustaining and replenishing the Church and adding to the number of the faithful, have been denied. Not long since, a pamphlet was published by the American Sunday School Union, revealing the most startling facts—as, for instance, the following:--
 "In a statistical report of the Congregational churches of Massachusetts, for example, published as lately as January, 1863, we notice that of two of the most important towns on the Connecticut river--each greatly distinguished for a succession of faithful ministers, and embracing in its population a rare number of intelligent, active, well-trained Christian men and women, the following facts are reported:—In the first church of one of the towns, having a membership of 505, there was but ONE addition by profession, from any source, during the year 1861. In the second church of the same town, comprising 297 members, only two were added by profession, from any source. The Sunday Schools in connection with these two churches report an aggregate of 618 members, showing that if all the additions to both churches, by profession, were from the Sunday School, they would amount to less than one-half of one per cent.!
“In another town to which we refer, the aggregate of members of the two evangelical churches is 687 (of whom 494 are females), and the total additions to both churches, during 1861, were eight. The number of children reported in the Sunday Schools of both churches is 638. Showing that, were all the additions from the Sunday Schools, it would mare but a fraction above one per cent.
“In another town, in the very heart of that ancient Puritan commonwealth, there are two Congregational churches, both favored with a learned and faithful ministry, and embracing many, men and women of intelligence and piety, in which we find 1106 members, of whom 736 are females. Connected with them are Sunday Schools containing 1057 souls. The aggregate addition to both churches, by profession, in 1861, was eight, or less than four-fifths of one per cent.!"
So much as to the bearing of this subject upon Orthodox Congregationalism in Massachusetts. The writer also gathers his facts from the experience of the dissenting denominations in England; from which I quote as follows:--
“The subject has recently excited considerable attention among our fellow laborers in the old country. A large Sunday School Union reported, in April last (1862), sixty-one schools, comprising 2266 teachers, end 14,296 scholars. Of these, 502 were members of the church previous to 1861, and of the rest, only 216 joined the church during the year, or a fraction over one and one-half per cent. of those under instruction. Looking more closely into details, we find that in one school, with 78 teachers and between 800 and 900 scholars, none were admitted to the church! In another, with 1404 children and 72 teachers only, none were, admitted to the church. In a third, with 704 children and 77 teachers, six were admitted. Four other schools, in the sane comity, have an aggregate of 313 teachers to only 864 children, and furnished no additions to the church. These were city schools.
"Turning to the country schools in connection with the same County Union, it appears that from 21 of them, embracing 670 teachers and 3199 pupils, not one joined any church. From a body of 1133 teachers and 6273 scholars, the twelve months passed and returned not a single sail to the company of Christ's professed followers!
Such is the melancholy record in relation to the interests of Dissent in England. Now I do not mention these facts because of any special bearing upon ourselves; for the defective system of all these sects as to what constitutes the Church and church-membership, would be enough to show the reasons of their failure, without at all impeaching the value and efficiency of Sunday School instruction when rightly conducted. But the inference is plain, that Sunday Schools as managed and conducted by the sects, and made their especial boast, have lamentably failed in accomplishing the main object for which they are established, viz., the building up of the Society which employs them.
 I am happy to say that the statistics of their influence upon the Church is entirely different; for even here, in Massachusetts, not less than one hundred and twenty-five members of the Sunday School out of every thousand are added to the communion. But the radical de - feet with us has been that we have managed too much upon the sectarian example, organizing our Sunday Schools more as something separate and distinct from the Church, than as a part of the Church's system of discipline and training.
At the last meeting of the Convention of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, the Bishop of that Diocese called the attention of his Convention to this very defect as one which divorced the Sunday School from the family and the Church; that "it tended to relieve the parents of the children, of a task which they have no right to delegate to others, and thus to diminish, rather than increase, the amount of Christian nurture which they receive at home;" that "many Christian parents have come to feel that their obligations to instruct their children are met, when they have secured their attendance upon the exercises of the Sunday School;" that it “interferes with the forming of the inestimable habit of being always at church;" and that “many of the pupils look forward to the time when they leave the Sunday School as the day of their release from all attendance at the sanctuary." Upon this Address a Committee was appointed by the Convention, and an elaborate Report made, sustaining the statements of the Bishop by many statistical facts; as, for instance, that "less than five per cent of all the boys brought into our Sunday Schools are retained in after years, in any living connection with the public services of the Church." . .
For these reasons, I propose to reorganize our Sunday School. . . My plan is based, in the first place, upon the fact that the Church recognizes the Minister of every parish as the authorized and appointed religious Instructor of the young, and as therefore bound to give to them no small portion of his time and attention in the public worship and instruction of the House of God on every Lord's day. "Feed my lambs," was the first injunction and test of love given to St. Peter. Secondly, upon the fact, that the other appointed teachers are the parents and the sponsors; and the children whom they are especially bound to teach and bring to the Church, “obediently to hear and to be ordered by the Minister “(military discipline), are their children or God-children, and also their "servants and. apprentices." Then in reference to all that large class of the young who do not strictly belong to the parish, but for whose salvation and gathering into the fold of Christ, we are bound to labor and pray, I propose to employ a special Assistant Minister, whose duty it shall be to "go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in," and who may have his assistant teachers.
 My plan embraces a system of public catechetical instruction in the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Church, as contained in the Book of Common Prayer, not in any critical study and examination of the Bible apart from the Church, nor in any attempt to educate young or old as disputants or theologians. We maintain that the Book of Common Prayer contains the principles and axioms for the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures, and when we possess them, we possess the key to the Bible. And in order that all may co-operate, parents, sponsors and teachers, as well as children, I propose to distribute throughout the Church, on every Sunday, a printed formula of the subjects and questions for the following Sunday . . . . . . .
Parents, sponsors and teachers may instruct their children and prepare themselves and them for the general weekly examination by the Minister, at any time and place to suit their convenience, either on week days at home, or on Sundays, in the Sunday School room; but the grand, public assembly of all, shall be on Sunday afternoon in the Church, the exercises commencing with the Church service, and then, instead of the sermon, the open catechetical instruction.
We propose to abolish the usual classification of the school by age or sex, so that parents, sponsors and teachers may have their classes in such way as to consist of those for whose Christian culture they are especially responsible, may come with them and sit with them in the Church, may have their names registered together; and that the only distinct and separate classes for distinct and separate instruction, shall be the classes for Confirmation and the Holy Communion.
The plan also embraces the idea of having all the children of the parish instructed in the music of the Church; and also the occasional assembling of the children on appropriate festival days. . . . .
Such, in general, is an outline of my plan for the discipline, instruction and training of the young committed to our charge. No one can deny that it has some advantages, provided it can only be thoroughly acted upon and carried into effect. 1st, It is less complicated and cumbersome than the ordinary Sunday School organization. 2d, It is not an organization independent of the Church, but is strictly within the general system of religious instruction, for which the Church has provided in the Book of Common Prayer. 3d, It is calculated to train up our young, in the Church, in the doctrine, discipline and worship of the. Church, and as members of the Church. 4th, It provides at once for Superintendents and Teachers; for the Clergy are the Superintendents, and parents and sponsors are already the Teachers; and at the same time, it opens a field for others who may be willing to gather in the young from every quarter, and make them their children in God. . . .
DEPARTMENTS OF CHURCH WORK.
1. The Aid of Young Men.
2. New Parishioners.
3. Sunday School.
4. Distribution of Alms.
5. Medical Aid.
6. Sacred Vestments and Utensils.
7. The Nursing of the Sick.
8. Reading to the sick or poor or infirm or ignorant.
9. Candidates for Baptism or Confirmation or the Holy Communion.
10. Procuring and distributing of Church Books and Tracts.
11. The Annual Christmas Dinner to the poor.
12. Christmas Decoration.
13. The Annual Children's Festival on Holy Innocents.
14. The founding of a Home for the sick and friendless.
15. The Church Building Fund.
17. The Burial of the Dead.
P. S. Members of the Parish, willing to engage in any of these departments of Church work, are respectfully requested to send their names to the Rector.
SPECIAL OFFERINGS FOR CHURCH OBJECTS,
ON THE SECOND SUNDAY OF EVERY MONTH, AS FOLLOWS:—
December, 2d Sunday, Domestic Missions.
January, 2d Sunday, Foreign Missions.
February, 2d Sunday, Margaret Coffin Prayer Book Society.
March, 2d Sunday, Sunday School Union.
April, 2d Sunday, Diocesan Missions.
May, 2d Sunday, Nashotah.
June, 2d Sunday, Bishop Seabury Mission.
July, 2d Sunday, Society for the Increase of the Ministry.
August, 2d Sunday, Tracts for the Use of the Parish
September, 2d Sunday, Bibles and Prayer Books for the Use of the Parish.
October, 2d Sunday, Parish Library for the Children.
November, 2d Sunday, Printing Expenses for the Parish.
A Form of Prayer
IN VIEW OF THE
ERECTION OF A NEW CHURCH.
BLESSED be Thy name, O LORD, that it hath pleased Thee to put it into the hearts of Thy servants to commence the erection of a building to Thy honor and glory—a settled habitation for Thee to abide in forever. Grant that we may be duly impressed with a sense of the unspeakable importance of this great undertaking; and inspire us, we beseech Thee, with all the zeal, energy and liberality which may be necessary for its accomplishment. As we have freely received, so may we freely give, not counting any thing which we possess as too much for Thee, our Saviour and our God. Affect us with an awful apprehension of Thy divine majesty and a deep sense of our own unworthiness, that so we may be willing to consecrate ourselves and all that we have to Thy service, that Thy holy name may be worshipped in truth and purity through all generations, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Church of the Advent,
OPEN DAILY, for those who may desire the quiet and retirement of God's House for prayer, and for Daily Worship according to the Book of Common Prayer, as follows:
Morning Prayer, Sermon and Holy Communion, 10 1/2 A. M.
Evening Prayer—Catechetical Instruction, 3 P. M.
Evening Prayer and Sermon, 7 ½ P.M.
All other Holy Days.
Morning Prayer and Holy Communion, 10 1/2 A. M.
Evening Prayer and Sermon, 7 ½ P. M.
All other Days.
Morning Prayer, 9 A. M.
Evening Prayer—Winter, Nov., Dec., Jan., Feb., 4 P. M.
Spring and Fall, March, April, September, October, 5 P.M.
Summer, May, June, July, Aug., 6 P.M.
N. B. The Pews in this Church are not sold or rented, but are FREE; and the pecuniary support, as required by the Gospel, is derived entirely from freewill offerings laid upon God's altar and offered up in prayer, as an essential part of Worship.
Persons wishing to become members of this Parish, have only to hand their names to the Sexton, who is in daily attendance at the Church. Persons desiring the services of the Rector or his Assistant, for Baptism, or in reference to Confirmation and the Holy Communion, or for Holy Matrimony, or visitation of the sick, or burial of the dead, or for any other holy office, may give information to the Sexton; and either the Rector or his Assistant may be found DAILY at the Church at the times of DAILY service.
Rev. JAMES A. BOLLES, D.D., Rector, Residence 8 Hancock St.Rev. M. P. STICKNEY, A.M., Assistant, Residence 11 Cambridge St.