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vital to the faith of Christ; and this apparently from no other cause than their own inability to explain fully its minor details. The prophecy of the seventy weeks has, from the first, been reckoned among the most conspicuous testimonies to the sufferings of Christ and his rejection by his own people. The leading outlines of the prediction are eminently clear, and their correspondence with the history of our Lord and the calamities of the Jews is of the most striking character. To scatter doubts and suspicions against a truth so evident, because we have not the patience to decide on the mimuter details of chronology, nor discernment enough to fix each clause of the prophecy in its true place, is nothing less than to overturn the pillars of the Christian faith in order to rear an altar to our own pride. Such rash speculations cannot fail to produce the most deplorable effects, if ever they shall obtain a wide currency in the Church. Already a large class of divines, in their zeal for tradition, decry, as rationalistic and presumptuous, all reliance on the internal evidence of divine truth. A second class, we have seen, have busied themselves in attempting to prove that the supposed fulfilments of Scripture prophecy are deceptive and untrue. Isaiah, Daniel, and Revelation, and our Lord's own prophecy, are, in their view, entirely unfulfilled. The plainest correspondence between the predictions and events can be boldly explained into the mere effect of dishonest artifice, and those who are less incredulous derided for their amusing simplicity. With such principles, what anchor is left for the faith of the Church? These writers, or most of them, profess to believe that, in the last days, lying signs and wonders will be permitted to appear.
And what a fearful preparation have they unconsciously made for the wide success of those awful delusions, whenever they may arise! The school of tradition, under pretence of exploding rationalism, will have cut off all appeal to moral and internal evidence. The Futurists, on the other hand, will have done their utmost to sweep away the evidence of fulfilled prophecy. The evidence of miracles alone will be left to us; but how should antiquated miracles, two thousand years ago, counteract the present impression of Satanic wonders ? Those who have adopted, on trust, the declamations of the “ Tracts for the Times against the internal evidence of the Gospel, and, along with these, the maxims of the Futurists, will be left as hopeless victims, bound hand and foot, and surrendered to the spirit of delusion, whenever the last Antichrist shall seek to build his empire on the ruins of the Christian faith.
EDUCATION AND THE POOR LAW.
To the Editor of the Churchman, Sir,-Our Saviour, even when working miracles to feed the poor, did not neglect the exercise of the accustomed duties of charity, for the traitor Judas carried the bag for the purpose of distributing to the poor. The apostles continued these duties of benevolence, and when they pressed too heavily upon them they instituted the order of dca
cons to assist especially in the distribution of alms. From these primeval times the Christian priesthood has consisted of three distinct orders-bishops, the successors of the apostles, and priests, and deacons; and, although the ministration of tables and works of charity may, from the beginning, have more particularly belonged to the deacons, yet institutions of charity, and a perpetual superintendence over them, is, and ever has been, an essential part of the duties of the three orders of priesthood; and in every part of the Christian world, where the sacraments and prayers have been administered, care of the sick and poor has been ordained, as necessary parts of these religious ceremonies. As the greater part of the carly Christians were of Jewish extraction, and members of synagogues in countries widely dispersed, the Jewish offerings of firstfruits and tenths, or imitations of them under the name of Easter-offerings, became common in the early ages of the Church, and of these a portion was invariably set apart for the poor. When assemblies of Christians were first formed in the British islands, the customs common to Christendom obtained in them, and there are clear traces of a primitive or firstfruits in the age of Constantine. Almost as soon as churches were built, and before they were endowed, churchwardens were appointed over them, and these officers were associated with the priest for the receiving of the offering and the distribution of alms. These were usages existing antecedent to endowments. The endowment of firstfruits, of which our church-rates are the remains and a species of abridgment, and subsequently the tithe, both of which originally paid their share to the poor, were first generally attached to the bishop's office, and passed through the cathedral before they were apportioned to the parish priest; and the very large portion of the lands given by the crown, and the noblemen, and thanes, in Frank Almoigne and “Divinum Servitium, were given in trust to the bishops and abbots, and other ecclesiastical personages, to distribute. The perpetual exercise of the duty of distributing alms, and also the recognition by the State of the right of the clergy to fulfil this duty, has been clearly expressed in every period of our history, from the first building of our churches, until the passing of the late Poor Law bill. During these successive generations, for a period much exceeding a thousand years, the church wardens have shared the duties with the parish priest ; and they may be considered, in fact, as a species of sub-deacon, having charge of the poor. After the dissolution of the monasteries, when it was necessary to supply new channels of relief to the poor, by the act of Elizabeth, additional officers were added to them, and we hear of the overseer of the poor; but these persons, although officers of the parish, cannot be considered as belonging properly to the Church. But still the affairs of the poor were decided in the vestry; the church wardens were joint anthorities instituted for the protection of the pauper, and the parish priest by law presided in his vestry in the church. Under these circumstances it became impossible that the church of the inhabitants of the parish could grant rates without an acknowledgment of the obligations of religion, which made them binding on their conscience as well as in law. The presence of the priest and of the Church officers, made the parties feel that the
poor had rights supported by religion, and the sacrifices necessary to be made for their support were made with decency and respect to the power that called for them, when the State claimed the provision for the poor and the sick through the parish priest, who asked for them as the ambassador of Christ.
By the late Poor Law all superintendence by the priest and the officers of the Church of the revenue belonging to the poor has been abstracted. I have no hesitation in declaring that this abstraction is a direct breach of the covenant existing between them and the State, and it is a violation of their apostolic right, which the time during which the robbery las existed (for sucli is the proper name of the transaction), has already proved to be equally injurious to all parties; and the end is now sufficiently known to call for a remedy, and none other can be found than the restoring to the parish priests those paro. chial thrones of charity from which that administration, whose object it was to separate the Church and State, have deposed them.
I am now writing on the subject of Education, and the office of the parish priest is intimately connected with teaching and seeing the poor properly fed, and both duties are united; and the sympathy between the two is most beautifully pointed out by Hooker, as he traces the order of benefits conveyed to our first father in Paradise : “ He had a law given that he was commanded to keep, and faculties that he should cultivate ; but he was at the same time placed in a garden of plenty, that want should not tempt him to destroy." In treating of the Poor Law the Times paper has very aptly quoted Hooker on this point. Rapid transitions from fulness to famine are prejudicial equally to the regular growth either of the mind or the body. The interests, both of the intellect as well as of morality, are always confounded by extremes.
If the clergy are to preserve their ancient right of teaching, their no less ancient privilege of presiding at the vestry as ministers of God, must be restored to them. The late administration, both individually and collectively, had, I believe, in State matters, either no conscience, or the most convertible one ever conversant with the affairs of men. Those who now hold power are not the kind of men to justify their predecessors in this treatment of the clergy, though, with their wonted courtly politeness, they may abstain from blaming them; but probably they have long discovered what most men and the poor themselves feel, that something is wanting in the New Poor Law bill in order to make it effectual in protecting the poor. There is no power, or any persons in the State, who can execute this protectorship but the priesthood, to whom it originally and legally belongs, both by human and divine right. An attentive consideration of the circumstances of the parochial poor, for more than a generation, has couvinced me that the concerns of paupers are not so short and simple as is generally supposed. The poet may write of “the short and simple annals of the poor," but their wages of labour, and the regulation of them, most surely cannot come within that definition, and they certainly are surrounded by the same necessities as the nature of law itself: they must be regulated by general and fixed principles, and they also require the
temperament of equity, as cases are always occurring which the law, by reason of its generality, cannot comprehend. It is impossible, with out extreme cruelty and injustice, to administer to the various cases of the poor without a discretionary power entrusted to their guardians. These separate orders of the State are necessary to complete this guardianship-the parochial clergy, the country gentleman, and the farmer. The farmer and the labourer alone, without the intervention of the other two classes, will never conduct the business of life amicably. The abuses of the old Poor Law arose from this separation, and the defects of the New are considerably increased by the same imperfect superintendence. It had long been the custom for the great ratepayers to absent themselves from the vestry, so that in the country as well as the town, the rich, the well-educated, and the intelligent left the management of the poor to the overseers. These officers were changed every year, and consequently quitted their office before they understood it; and the parish priest, finding, perhaps, that the parties who attended the vestry were impracticable men, ceased to take that active share in the administration of the rate which certainly belongs to their office, and which the law, when it made them the presidents of vestries, intended should come under their inspection.
But under all circumstances, however unpleasant or difficult, I conceive it would have been both the policy and duty of the clergyman to have taken the chair at the vestry, and to have endeavoured to have brought back the independent squire, and in the towns the hereditary tradesmen, and the monied and educated men of his parish to have attended the vestry. The same method must be adopted under the New Poor Law, if the working classes are to be rescued from their present depression, and placed above that destitution under which education will never take rest, nor religion either, when want presses very severely, and long, galling penury makes them reckless and callous. If farmers and factory men become exclusively guardians, and out-door relief is not allowed, the relief in the unions will, in the end, be brought to that state that the poor will endure the utmost possible destitution rather than submit to it; and under these discouragements education will never be attended to, and religion have very little power. If neither magistrates nor country gentlemen attend the union boards, they ought not to be permitted to sit for the transaction of business, and in every union a spiritual board of parish priests should be held weekly. They should have no concern with the management of the temporalities of the house, but an universal power of inspection over all things, and of making reports to the bishop, which every year should be sent up to the House of Lords, and printed. Thus the balance and check of the triple power would be established-nothing could be concealed, and the poor would certainly gain by the publicity. Such a position as this in the union would restore the clergy to the authority of which they have been dispossessed, and of which, it appears to me, they cannot longer suffer themselves to be deprived ; for experience has now proved that the poor, wliom their office requires them to protect, have already suffered much from their absence. I believe that the Episcopal Church of England is as truly apostolic as
poor man las
any community on earth ; but it will surely cease to be such when it omits to take charge of the poor. It must, to preserve
its character, either immediately restore the ancient offerings at the communion and the great festivals, and the gifts of the firstfruits, or be restored, in some shape or other, to the superintendence of parochial relief. As an estate of the realm and of Parliament, they betray a great trust; if they remain as they now are placed as to the poor,
che a right to relief and privilege, which has been, and, I believe, is now disputed ; and the parish priest is the only true guardian of that right, for he demands it from the State as a religious duty, and he would betray the poor as their trustee, if he exchanged a voluntary system for one established by law. The voluntary scheme succeeds on nothing, and is fit for nothing. Will any man trust his life and property to a voluntary association, when he can command tlıe sure strong arm of the law? The lives of the poor are dependent on the Poor Law, which is fixed and sure, and might and ought to be liberal; why, therefore, should their lives be put to peril, or their happiness endangered by a return to the free-offerings and the chances of capricious feelings? I think the parish priest would not do his duty if he did not exert himself to get back his ancient constitutional power in the vestry, or an equivalent for it in the unions. And I would have the whole system of the union-houses remodelled, liberalized, Chistianized, and made fit for Christian priests to share their administration, which, in too many cases, they could not as they now are conducted. I would regenerate them, and make them the representatives of the rich mitred abbies in all good things that related both to the soul and the body-places of refuge, in which poverty should never be considered in itself as a crime,
the pauper treated as a criminal—where there should be intelligence to discriminate between the different kinds and species of poverty, and to allot its due portion of honour or dishonour to each where there should be a power to reward the good, as well as to punish the dishonourable species of want; and seeing that matrimony, according to the Church of England, is an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man's innocency, the unions should be places in which no man, under penalty of transportation, should dare, unless for crime, to separate man and wife for one moment. Then the unions might be made subsidiary to the national scheme of education, and children might be trusted in them. Charl. Vic., May, 1843.
ROMAN CATHOLIC SUPERSTITION.
To the Editor of the Churchman. SIR, -An unfortunate man of my parish—unfortunate, because addicted to drunkenness--having been severely admonished of his crime, retired into Leicestershire, into the neighbourhood of the Roman Catholic institution in the forest. But to my surprise, the other day he staggered into our court-yard, and presented me with the following placard, stammering out as well as he could, “ Master, don't ya' be angry!"