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defence of Christianity, very few omitted to set out with this maxim * Infidelity is rather a disease of the heart than the head.' With preachers and religious writers, the general notion of an argumentum ad hominem appears to be, telling your opponent if he is not convinced, it is because he is depraved, and perhaps profligate. I quite admit that moral disturbance is a principal cause of intellectual error; but to throw that belief in my antagonist's face, with a plain personal application, is a rudeness to my fellow-men, an outrage on the laws of controversy, I will never be guilty of. I regret that so far from this evil habit being put away, it is adopted, with an enlargement, in the high places of Dissent. The Rer. J. Angell James, in a letter to the British Banner,' imputes to the people to whom he would send Mr. Brewin Grant as a missionary, revolutionary designs, in addition to their individual depravity. He writes :
One of the travelling agents of the Religious Tract Society lately stated in our Town Hall these three facts :-Ist. There is an organized system of Infidelity at work in this country. 2nd. The object of this is to revolutionize the country in its political constitution. 3rd. This organization has continental connexions and continental resources. And he sustained each particular by facts. We have only to refer to the crimes and horrors of the first Gallican revolution to learn what unbridled and maddened atheism accomplished in that country, and which it may be expected, under similar circumstances, to repeat wherever it prevails.' So the anti-Gallican panic is to be revived, because Mr. Holyoake has organized his friends into discussion clubs! I am curious to be made acquainted with the facts' by which the travelling agent sustained his appalling discovery. I suspect the good honest man has been sadly hoaxed by some Lancashire wag. I am sure the 'Seculars' will be vastly amused at their affiliated debating societies being magnified into a huge conspiracy of English and continental revolutionists. I much wonder, too, that so worldly-wise a man as Mr. James should repeat the story of continental resources,' as though the rank and file of European liberalism were not now in London, living and hoping on the contributions of their English friends. But seriously do I deplore that an effort otherwise promising should be maimed, at its commencement, by such a mistake as this. With what disposition will the sceptical and republican operatives of our great towns listen to Mr. Brewin Grant, if the men who send him forth announce as a motive for doing so that Messrs. Holyoake and Cooper have designs of sedition and anarchy which they solemnly disclaim ?
Thirdly: I would suggest—and I beg to be held individually responsible for an individual opinion—that the usual method of presenting Christianity, whether to the young, the worldly, or the sceptical, is capable of great improvement. I do not, of course, ask that the preacher suppress or modify his conscientious views of the gospel system : he can but speak as he perceives. But pointing to the fact clearly brought out in these papers, that the three infidel teachers most influential in the present day on the masses, repel the evidences because they are themselves repelled by the doctrines of Christianity, I ask whether it is not probable that those doctrines are falsely represented to minds not naturally more indisposed than others to accept them? The hosts of infidelity are recruited not so much by direct perversion from the truth, as by the gradual alienation from Christian institutions of young men nurtured beneath their shadow. I, for one, cannot but suspect, that had these strayed sheep been gently led to the green pastures and still waters of evangelic truth, instead of being fed with the husks of mere doctrine—the human formulas which confine and corrupt divine principles—they would not have mistaken the voice of strangers for that of the Good Shepherd.
Words for the Wise.
• Faithful are the wounds of a friend.'—SOLOMON.
* Ego autem neminem nomino; quare irasci mihi nemo poterit, nisi qui ante de se voluerit confiteri. -CICERO.
XIII. PEW-RENTS, LANCASHIRE passes sentence on the Corn-laws. The world stares, listens open-mouthed for a second or two, gradually relaxes into a smile, shakes its knowing head, and swaggers on: has not for the present, it would seem, the remotest intention of executing the sentence for Lancashire. Years pass in this way, seven of them in all ; orators perorating, cotton lords subscribing, editors demonstrating, Justice herself adjuring, all to no purpose. The world has heard enough, and Lancashire is in despair.
Then a change, sudden as night-fall in the tropics. Black Death has seized on the potato-crops, and the world's smile is gone.
Who so ready as the world to take counsel now? There is a pause, brief but anxious; a cold shudder at the thought of death by hunger; and, in the columns of the Times, the world has told herself, that the Lancashire sentence is, after all, a 'great fact.' We need not continue the narrative. The Stock Exchange (chief ruler in modern England) has willed it in the usual form : Le roi le veut. Execution is done upon the Corn-laws, and Lancashire is herself again.
It may well be thought that the cotton lords were at first greatly astonished, when they found themselves placed thus suddenly in the ascendant; but astonishment is a transient emotion, and Lancashire, when the tumult has subsided, will do several things.
The great towns shall govern England. Commerce shall bring to pass what Christianity could not accomplish, and war shall be no more. Rival education-schemes shall find it worth their while to contend for the imprimatur of the County Palatine. Eighty thousand of her Sunday scholars shall sing before the Queen. Cobden shall bandy com.
pliments with Disraeli, and Thackeray strike hands with Dickens at the anniversaries of her Athenæum. 'Lungs' shall be found for Manchester, as well as for London, and her new park be made to bear the honoured name of Peel. Whilst, in the general rush of life, time shall yet be found for the battle of the Churches. The “ins' shall obtain a bishop, a veritable nolo-episcopari man; and the outs, not to be outdone, shall swell, as only outs’ in Lancashire know how, the great cry for · Chapel extension.' In short, the latest Manchester movement has taken the shape of a resolution to build fifty chapels !'
The shrewd hard-headed men, with their pardonable confidence in their own energy, and their touch of Yankee faith in the • Almighty dollar ; ' I should belie my own blood if I did not respect them; and the fifty chapels (unless indeed the worm should get the cotton crops) may be expected to figure in the next census.
Would Lancashire but pause, however, ere she commits herself to any further following in the wake of London! She was not always so humble. The stolid resignation with which London bore the monopoly of food, Lancashire did what she could to disturb. Would she only teach the somnolent city' how to deal with the bread of life! Would she but reflect that, if she must build, it were better to build one free-trade hall, which stood upon a solid fact, than half a hundred chapels based, mainly, on a fiction! And, if she must league, would she only league against pew-rents, with half the zeal which once reduced to their natural dimensions the rent-rolls of Richmond and Derby.
These 'pew-rents' are, I sometimes think, the strangest birth of our times. Would any sane
man, during the great Puritan struggle, have ventured to foretel that the Christian religion would one day come down to them? From Henry Barrowe hanging by the neck for the crime of visiting his Nonconformist brother in prison, to Tritissimus fattening on pew-rents—what a step! We take it however every day; and we occupy our new ground with a kind of bashful unconsciousness. We are loud upon the voluntary principle.' An excessive diffuseness seizes on our orators, whenever they touch upon the subject; immense audiences applaud to the echo; and you are in danger of fancying they will all run over, in one boundless flood of voluntaryism and love; until you recollect how soon they will have recourse to an astringent, in the form of pew-rents.'
For, to tell the truth, this ingenious device, strange as at first sight it may appear, is after all extremely characteristic of the age we live in. Indeed, Redtape, who studies my papers with assiduity, but can in no wise make them out, deems the device as worthy of the nineteenth century as it is unobjectionable in itself. • Pay for what you have,' says he is not that fair ?' Fair enough, good sir, and right glad am í that your tradesmen have to do with so honest a man. But fairness and honesty are not here in question. We are now, or we ought to be, on far other ground. It may, on the commercial principle, be perfectly fair that every pulpit in the land should be rendered
vocal by means of 'pew-rents : ' but is it Christianity? Is it the religion of the gospel, in any credible sense of that word? Is it, at the utmost, anything better than a poor theft from Anglicanism, of the pillage torn in olden time from the dead body of Judaism ?
Honestus jogs my elbow here, and bids me have a care what I write ; since 'pew-rents,' says he, are indispensable at present to the independence of the ministry.' He, poor fellow, bruised and battered down in shire by the rich factor Diotrephes, has no wish to return to the subscription system, with Diotrephes for treasurer, and in default of that, takes up with London 'pew-rents.' I do not wonder at it; but Honestus would make a sorry advocate if that should constitute the whole of the defence. Needful for the independence of the ministry,' does he say? He is not complimentary towards the Christian communities he has known. Honestus, I pity you from my heart; but if that be the whole of your case, I must write on.
See, here are two men, brothers in Christ. One is a merchant, rich and childless. The other is his clerk; poor, but with a home populous as the palace of the Queen. Both .sit under' Tritissimus, and both are members of his church. The merchant has two sittings, which he does not always occupy, but for which he duly pays; the clerk has four, and blushes to think he should so often occupy six. Perhaps the merchant will die of apoplexy, and his wealthy relict win golden opinions by continuing to pay for the second sitting. Perhaps the clerk will die of consumption, and his struggling widow-but the heart sickens at the recital. Even Deacon Goodfellow cannot make Christianity out of such a system as that. And yet deacon, merchant, and clerk have all, as it is understood that Tritissimus himself has,
an invincible repugnance to the compulsory maintenance of religious institutions.'
It was with such words as these, that our Anti-church-rate Samson made sport for the Philistines on Mr. Trelawny's committee. They had asked him, it appears, more than once, the ground of his objection to 'church-rates ;' and he made steadfast answer to this effect, that he had an invincible repugnance to the compulsory maintenance of religious institutions.' Upon which the quick-witted Churchmen bethought themselves of pew-rents;' and some of the committee,' says my report, 'seem to have tried to fog the witness, and not quite unsuccessfully, as to pew-rents-asking whether those payments in Dissenting chapels are not virtually as compulsory as legal exactions : but witness adhered to his opinion, that pew-rents everywhere, that is, where the gospel is faithfully preached, would be sufficient for the maintenance of divine worship.' Honest Samson ! All men must love you as the affectionate editor of the almost inspired dreamer ; but I would as soon attempt a “pilgrim's progress' for the day we live in, or break my neck against the pillars of any Philistine temple of the time, as allow pew-rents' to stand for the gospel in the eyes of the elected Commons of England.
And yet the system works well—within its own limits. For whereever, in metropolitan church or chapel, you see a vast crowd of persons
jostling and incommoding one another, there you may be very sure that, with scarcely an exception, every square inch of every pew in the place is rented and paid for. It would be churlish to deny, then, that within its own bounds this system prospers; or that, within those, you might carry it on for ever, with no worse result possibly than that degeneracy which is known to characterise certain close families in Spain, where the race is too noble to allow of the infusion of vulgar blood. But what of them that are without?' As well expect a hidalgo of Castile to marry a peasant girl, instead of his own niece, as hope to persuade the multitude that you intend your pew-rent gospel as a provision for their wants.
The common people heard Christ gladly. Where are they now? Where are those who thronged the steps of Jesus whilst he lived, and who formed the chief part of his care when he was about to ascend to God? Oh! more bitter than any jibes from infidel lips is the satire involved in the answer, 'Go on Sunday to Battersea fields if you would see.' Proclamation is made to these people that the gospel may be had-at five shillings a quarter, or something less. Proclamation, the faintest possible echo of which can be heard at Battersea at all, and then to such effect as this : Ragged wretches from the alleys, courts, and back slums of London, why will ye hie away on the day of rest, immoral and profane ones that ye.are, to blaspheme and torture miserable donkeys at Battersea ? Come hither and be made Christians; our terms are five shillings a quarter. Unfortunates ! our hearts swell with a divine pity when we contemplate your godless condition. See this noble building.
It is for you. Doors open at 11 a.m. Terms, five shillings a quarter, with an allowance to families. It is too ridiculous. Some roving fancy might wander along this track of thought until it had seen the prescribed conditions complied with, and poverty listening for the first time to the glad tidings from the text in Isaiah, · Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters : and he that hath no money comem'but I have said enough.
• True for once, cries Sugar Candy, who has been rubbing up his Latin since that fatal day, “ true for once ; Satis superque. But why not be candid and give us the benefit of our free sittings? Why, at least, were they not allowed to figure in the Battersea Proclamation ? Indeed, Sugar Candy, I cannot tell; but methinks, my candid friend, this silence should not surprise you. Look at the railways. Once in the day, at least, must every railway company in the kingdom convey all who desire it in covered carriages, at the rate of one penny per mile ; but what company makes its parliamentary train’ prominent in its advertisements ? Flesh and blood could not extend so far. Economy contrives, however, to hunt down the parliamentary train' in the columns of Bradshaw; and justice demands the acknowledgment that in most of our modern temples there are to be found free sittings ; whilst truth requires us to add, that they are generally accessible en gh-for they are near the lobby; and would not let very well, perhaps, as pews. Sometimes I have seen these benches lettered