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out one. Now, my dear Spectator, ought it not to be taught a lesson, and a good sound one too? Ought not its managing men very plainly to be told, We are Independent ministers ; more than that, we are brethren solemnly leagued together, for the purpose of teaching wisdom, if possible, to those who are so lamentably devoid of it? We must teach you a lesson; you shall have no minister yet; for until you have repented of your pride, we do not look upon you as altogether in a fit state to send an invitation to a Christian teacher. We have not sufficient confidence in you to induce us to put our happiness, usefulness, and character in your keeping.'
The physical consequences of men swollen with pride and selfimportance receiving such a letter, it might be sad to contemplate ; but had we really Independent ministers, I can imagine nothing more desirable than such a communication being sent to all such churches, whatever history' might be attached to them. It would for a time,
' I think, make them a little more circumspect in their behaviour.
And, Sir, I could wish that those churches who are ever changing their ministers, having a new one at least every two or three years, should be taught the lesson they have long needed to learn ; though it be through the severe method I have just hinted at, let them be taught it. Some churches find their amusement in obtaining and dismissing ministers; indeed, I have heard a church member boast, actually boast, of the number of ministers who would not 'do' for them.
There are certain churches in our land becoming quite notorious for the pains they take in obtaining a pastor, and for the equal zeal they manifest in turning him adrift. They send the most glowing invitations; they give no end of promises of sympathy, affection, support, and cooperation, which promises they unblushingly depart from, and wonder that the minister should feel hurt at their conduct. And after he has been at the trouble and expense of moving, and after perhaps, through short-sightedness and momentary anxiety, he has relinquished a post of usefulness and comfort, he is coolly and cruelly sent about his business to seek another home. Yet, no sooner has he gone, than the church, without one feeling of regret, as if it had borne an unblemished character, begins to look out afresh, and has not the slightest doubt of finding dozens of men to accept the vacant post, and in accepting it, to confirm as honest conduct at once the most cruel and impertinent.
Wanted, I say again, an Independent minister, who would have courage enough to say to this church when asked to become their pastor, 'I hear a bad account of you; you are known at present by the undesirable title of the minister's heart-breaker; you have got rid of five ministers during the last eleven years, and have established for yourselves quite a Blue-beard notoriety; the excitement of ministerkilling is bad for you, and you
skill at this kind of thing no more; you must be without a pastor. The people no doubt would be wonderfully surprised at receiving such a document, and think themselves very ill-used, for it is a strange fact that the more some churches persecute their ministers the higher they rise in their own estimation. There is another kind of church, my dear Spectator, that
we should all delight in seeing thoroughly punished by our much wanted Independent minister; that church which is constantly breaking faith with its minister in respect to income. There never was, I believe, in this world, anything half so cool as the manner in which the deacons of Stone-street went from their engagement with their minister. They invited him in the usual manner; they listened with delight, and they trusted with profit, to his ministrations for several Sabbaths; they had taken the pains to find out the opinion of every member of the church and congregation in regard to his acceptability as a preacher and as a man, and they were glad to say that all the members of the church and congregation were unanimously desirous of obtaining him as their pastor, and that they had empowered the deacons to make any, and all arrangements that they deemed necessary to induce him to accept the call.
Now upon examining this invitation sentence by sentence, Mr. Hcould find no fault with it; it seemed satisfactory in every respect. He therefore accepted the call on the usual understanding of receiving a certain guaranteed sum per annum, and any increase that might be the result of his own labours in the town and neighbourhood. The income soon went beyond the guaranteed sum, but what was the minister's surprise when he found that the increase without a word being said to him was being coolly applied to the liquidation of this debt and of that, and to the improvement of the place of worship. In vain he remonstrated ; in vain he appealed, and urged upon the deacons to do what was right and just. They said the income he received was quite enough for him, and it would be for the good of the cause, if for a few years any surplus was devoted to the improvement and beautifying of the place of worship. And so, poor fellow, with barely enough to live upon, he saw himself labouring for the benefit of his successor, who true enough in a few years stepped into his place, found a handsome chapel awaiting him, and a salary in proportion.
Now, my dear Sepectator, what would this successor have said to the people had he been the Independent minister this letter advertises for? He would have said, “You are dishonest; you cannot expect to prosper while you are so; repent of your sin, and show that you
do so by refunding to your last minister every shilling of which you defrauded him; he earned it honestly ; by the sweat of his brain, by the labour of his heart, by the wear and tear of his pastoral life amongst you he earned it; no minister will have anything to say to you while this act of justice is left undone.'
You will perhaps say, Mr.H— concluded his engagement with the deacons too quickly. I agree with you, and conclude my letter to you with an extract from an unpublished letter, written to a minister seeking a charge :-
• Of course, as you are seeking to become a teacher in God's world, you have taken a thorough estimate of your own powers, and have satisfied yourself upon the all-important point, that you have something to say. If you really have that it matiers very litile what sphere you choose for your life-work, whether manufacturing or agricultural, village or town districts. * The living thoughts that you have made for ever your own will out in any language, and every man will hear you in his own tongue. I wish you had faith enough to get into any thickly populated neighbourhood, and gather around you a people for yourself, but as you have not, and you are determined to speak in any one of the existing synagogues that may seem to you suitable, I must comply with your request, and set down a few cautions that may be useful to you,
. And beginning with the chapel itself, if any special stigma is attached to it, and you instinctively feel that there is not fire enough in your heart to burn it out, so that no trace of the Ichabod is left remaining, have nothing to do with it.
• If the church is under the control of a little oligarchy to whose nod you must always bow, and to whom you must always preach agreeably if you are to maintain your position, and you are not able to gather around you those who will gradually push such said little oligarchy out, have nothing to do with it.
Become well acquainted with the variety of characters composing the congregation, the young and old, the rich and poor, the talented and the ignorant, the grave aud the gay, and see whether you can speak from one platform to all these at once, meet every individual want, and give every man his portion of meat in due scason. If you can't do this think twice before you accept the invitation.
When on probation look more on the dark than the bright side of your prospects; magnify the slightest sign of discomfort ; look at the different cliques that compose the church, their character and influence; put every inducement beld out by the deacons at half price; and, if after all, there is more light than darkness, try what you can do. But, remember, let it be with a distinct understanding with regard to money, or more misery will result than you can now imagine. Treat the deacons as men of business, and let them see that you are one. And now go your way until the end shall be; be free if you can ; if not, be as free as you can.'
Thomas Paine. If we may judge from the writings of our early English divines, scepticism was as well known to them as to us, but the knowledge must have been confined to comparatively few, for there were no general means of propagating it. A public advocacy of unbelief there was not, hence it was principally amongst the learned men that we have to look for the sceptics. Most of these men, however, seem to have been agreed upon one point, at least, that it was best to keep their opinions from what they call the vulgar,' believing that a little superstition did them good. Neither was there a reading public in that day, hence the unbelief of those times differs widely from that which it is our fate to witness.
Thomas Paine was the first man who ever awakened the intellect of our working people into a state of conscious doubt, and was, perhaps, the only man in the world who was capable of doing it. There was something, doubtless, in the time in which he lived which contributed much in his favour. The great French Revolution, which uprooted the old state of things in France, swept off the aristocracy and the Church, and proclaimed the universal brotherhood of man, awakened hope in the desponding heart of the toiling millions of Christendom, and made them believe that the day of their redemption drew nigh. No man who has not himself laboured with his hands for his daily bread, and lived in ‘hard times,' knows the feelings of the common labourer. He may go quietly to his daily toil and nightly bed, but there are germs of revolutions smothered and smouldering in his heart, and he only needs some one to interpret his thoughts in order to make him a fanatic. There was silence in England, but it was the silence which precedes the breaking forth of the storm, and when the French Convention proclaimed ‘LIBERTY, EQUALITY, FRATERNITY,' the intelligent working-men of England held their breath, in expectation of the coming millennium. There was doubt in the heart, and a curse on the lips, but no man had yet put the unexpressed thought into intelligent words. This had been done in France-Voltaire and others were the prophets of the new dispensation therebut not here. No Frenchman can express the Englishman's feelings correctly. Paine saw this, and with the true instinct of genius gave utterance to the half-formed thought, and did it in a manner to defy competition. His words found an echo in ten thousand hearts. What was it to them that he would dethrone the king and exterminate the Church? They had been cold and hungry; had Church or King warmed or filled them? They had toiled in the cold of winter, and under the scorching rays of the summer sun; had Church or King lightened their burden? They had borne the whips and scorns of time, the oppressor's wrong,' the proud man's rudeness, the pangs of despised toil, the delay of justice; had Church or King helped them ? What, then, had they to do with Church and King; they had nothing to lose by the change, and everything to hope from it. So thought and felt many in Great Britain when Paine wrote.
We are not amongst the despisers of Paine. When he laid his giant grasp upon everything which men consider sacred, it was natural that he should be pelted with every kind of missile, but in that grasp we may see the resolution of a man impatient of the indolence of the Church, and the depravity of the Court. What we mourn over is, that one so gifted should have made shipwreck of faith and of a good conscience; and when we look upon that wretched bed on which he breathed his last breath, we tremble to think how low the greatest and best of us may fall. Unbelief did for Paine what it has done for many others of the sons of toil. It severed the cord of love to God which should have united them to the all Father, and in their loss of spiritual life the working-classes have lost their greatest, noblest defence. We shall have to give many illustrations of this as we proceed; it is only hinted at here.
Living in these quiet days, it is almost impossible for us to form a conception of the agitation which the writings of Paine produced. Answer upon answer appeared to his Rights of Man,' but it has outlived them all, and is still a great monument of political sagacity. Balladsingers sang their execrations of him in the street, and posters on the walls held him up to execration by giving fictitious sketches of his life. In the British Museum there is a collection of these bills and songs,
amongst which may be seen pseudo-letters from his mother abusing her son, and one from Satan, thanking him for his zeal. He was prosecuted in courts of law, and rebuked by judges ; his effigy was burned in nearly every town and village in England ; and mothers frightened their children by mentioning his name. Yet, in spite of all this, he became secretary to the convention which laid the foundation of the great American Republic, and was elected to the senate of France in compliment to his extraordinary abilities. This man is too great to be lost without sorrow, and we sit upon his dishonoured grave with a sad heart, and mourn for him as over a fallen angel.
Thomas Paine was born at Thetford, in the county of Norfolk, on the 29th of January, 1737. He was brought up with care by his parents, one of whom, his father, was a Quaker. Having received what he calls good moral education, and a tolerable stock of useful knowledge,' he was taken into his father's shop, to learn the business of staymaking :
When little more than sixteen years of age,” he tells us, “raw and adventurous, and heated with the false heroism of a master (Rev. Mr. Knowles, master of the grammar school at Thetford) who had served in a man-of-war, I became the carver of my own fortune, and entered on board the Terrible privateer, Capt. Death. From this adventure I was happily prevented by the affectionate and moral remonstrance of a good father, who, from his own habits of life, being of the Quaker profession, must have begun to look upon me as lost. But the impression, much as it effected at the time, began to wear away, and I entered afterwards in the King of Prussia privateer, Capt. Mendez, and went with her to sea.”
Of his life at sea we know nothing, but in 1756 he is in London, working at his trade, in Hanover-street, Long-acre. Two years after he is working at his trade in Dover; and the next year we find him married and settled, in business as master staymaker at Sandwich. Not succeeding in business, he removed to Margate, where he had the misfortune to lose his wife, after which he gave up staymaking, and entered the excise. He was dismissed from this employment from some cause or other, but, after having spent some time in teaching, was restored to his office. In 1771, he married a second time; and in 1772, published a pamphlet, · The Case of the Officers of Excise.' What he wrote was displeasing to the authorities, and either for this, or on account of his keeping a shop, he was again dismissed from the service. Coming to London, he was introduced to Dr. Franklin, and by his advice, and with introductions from the Doctor, he embarked for America, where he arrived in the winter of 1774, only a few months previous to the commencement of actual hostilities between Great Britain and her colonies. Here he undertakes to edit a ‘Pennsylvanian Magazine,' and is soon discovered to be a man of undoubted talent.
Revolutions are remarkable for calling out men of genius, and in the great American crisis Paine found a wide field for his ability. It is easy for us to see now that the Americans had nothing worth fighting for, except it were independence, but it was not so easy for them to see at that time. With no definite plan of operations before them,