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not the main topic suggested for this afternoon's discussion. We shall not, however, address ourselves the less profitably to our task for having a clear impression that it involves some history of the true history of parishes and of the reason for the assignment of definite districts to particular clergymen.
I must be content in the circumstances to condense my own idea of what is implied in the traditional Christian practice of parochial organisation into two leading lines of thought.
A parish is a subdivision of a diocese, however it came to be so: and it is as such the universal monument of what has been expressively called "institutional Christianity,” by which I take it that a pointed contrast is intended with what might be called sporadic or individualist, and still more markedly with all types of exclusively emotional Christianity; and it is further the universal monument of what is also historically inseparable from Christ's religion-viz, the collective or social or communal idea of religion, the idea of the Church as a home, a family, a society.
It is impossible to discuss these ideas at length. I confine myself to a very few observations upon each of them.
Can there be a doubt that the solid presentment and the constructive forces of religion are the presentment and the forces of the Church which the world to-day at once deeply needs and urgently demands ? Everything indicates that the really influential elements of modern thought are attracted by the positive forces of religious faith and repelled by the negative, and the hesitating, and the indefinite. And I am claiming the institution of the Christian parish as a force on this side. I cannot however enlarge. I have spoken of Christianity as “institutional.” Need I in this audience go about to prove it? At home in every human organisation, and capable of influencing all forms and types of human life, the Church nevertheless imports not only her own ideas but also her own institutions into them all. Her sacraments, her sacred books, her visible society, her ministry, the episcopate, her churches, her schools, are necessary to her existence. It is her task to engraft, to enroll, to enlist; and her appliances and machinery exist to prove it, and are meaningless without it. It would waste your time to argue that this is not to magnify machinery, and undervalue products. No Christian does, or can do so. We are entitled to retort that to ignore or undervalue Christian means under cover of magnifying ends is to ignore human nature and the revealed will of God. And of this whole world of life the parish is the microcosm, and the parish church the special seat. If it fails to present this fact, it fails from the foundation. If it becomes the scene, it can never become the home, of wholly alien ideas; it is not being supplemented, it is being superseded by
Secondly, the parish and its church are the witnesses of that primitive conception of Christianity for which the Church has yearned and striven from the first, never more earnestly than at this moment-namely, that of some community of life, some community of goods, some common property, some common place of glad and frequent assembly, some sense of brotherhood and fellowship, in virtue of much community of faith, and constant community of worship. I cannot pursue this inspiring
theme. But I repeat that the parish, and the parish church rightly realised and worked, and wisely supplemented, are its best witnesses.
And I will venture to add this. The substitution for this true parochial idea, of the idea of the parish church as a mere structure for convenient hearing, as a place where the privilege of attendance on the ministry of the word is measured and sold, and other ministries and other Christian relationships to which it should minister are comparatively ignored-this is probably the most complete and most compendious counterfeit of the true faith of Christ and the true religion of the Gospel, which has ever been palmed off on any portion of Christendom. No! the open door, the homelike but impressive interior; the master idea presented of the holy house, with its appointments for the use of the whole family, that they may all "go in and out and find their pasture there ;" the sacred board, the sacred books, the free and equal offer of a place to all, the constant use of this common home for all the sacred purposes (very widely and liberally construed), which befit it; this surely and no other, is the true idea of the central institution of the church in every parish in the land which most needs to be affirmed and upheld, and by all means developed and supplemented amongst us to-day
Let me briefly indicate a few directions in which this witness, and this influence of the parish and the parish church needs supplementing.
I can only be abrupt. The parish and its church are the witness and recognition that Christian religion is made for man, and that man is not all soul any more than he is all body or all mind. It claims from him and offers to him a consecration of all he is and does. Hence it is incomplete without education in the widest sense. It undertakes to train the infant man, the adolescent man, as well as to feed and teach the adult man. Education is not less, but more important now every day. I avoid controversy. There is much to make us thankful and hopeful. But we are passing into a new phase of the question. Remember then that the State considers its educational responsibility at an end in any case at the age of thirteen. If we share our responsibility with the State up to that age, as we must, we have it undivided afterwards. And, alas ! it is just then that we too often lose it altogether. The first need of supplementing that the parochial system has, is in redoubled energy and zeal on the part of the clergy in the work of Christian education in all its forms, but especially in its secondary form and its later stages. While the grace of God keeps England what it is, we shall keep what we have got-viz., a substantial amount of religious teaching and Christian influence and training in nearly all of our national elementary schools. But it needs, and will need, supplementing. If we do our duty, and act up to our belief, we shall keep what we have gained. But I am trying to enforce the enormous importance of supplementing it by any and every means, direct and indirect.
Our Sunday-schools need surely to take, must take, a wholly new departure, and recast themselves to meet the needs of the time. Not only must we use to the full our existing opportunities of influence in the elementary schools of all kinds, show sympathy to Christian teachers, grudge no trouble to influence the younger teachers, and teach them directly if we can, make our Sunday-schools rational and popular, make
the Sabbath a delight and not a terror to the young. but give our minds and our hearts to children's services, and obey the Church by plain and interesting catechising. We must at once utilise and enliven Sunday by separate classes and meetings for reading and innocent recreation, by guilds and associations of all kinds to make Christian fellowship practical for all, not as baits, but as a real satisfaction of a felt and lawful need; and, as the end of all this, we must attach the young inseparably to the Church and the parish, not as to an organisation in which we are interested, but as to a living society, which redeems and hallows and brightens and cheers all life, and which will never release those whom she has really attached and embodied, any more than the natural family can ignore or let go one truly born into it.
I have never been in America, but I believe there is very much to be learnt from their Sunday schools in plan and method. I heard the other day of what was literally a Sabbath school, held on Saturday forenoonthe dies non of elementary schools—by the late lamented Dean of Bangor, every week in his cathedral church, and used by him for direct dogmatic teaching only, and immensely popular both with the children and their parents on that busiest of days to the humble housewife. And I have seen the aisles and side chapels of foreign churches used for classes of instruction on week-day afternoons and evenings in a way too little known amongst us. Our northern Sunday schools retain at least the form of the tradition of religious instruction up to quite adult age, and often far beyond it. Each and all of these paths need treading. Exceptional efforts to get a hearing from the adult generation will, of course, be necessary. I am leaving them to day to others. But I am once more arguing for prevention as surer and safer work than cure. Churchmanship-1.e., Catholic Christianity-is a realisable thing, almost worthless till it is realised, and it is only adequately learnt and realised by the formation of life-long habits which the parish exists to create and foster. I must be content to have barely suggested a profound conviction. If we lent more energy to laying the foundations of religious conviction, to impressing the conscience and reaching the understanding in early youth, we should have to spend less time in desperate attempts to touch unintelligent, unenlightened feelings in the later life of the same people.
But I must try and clinch the other nail I have tried to drive. The Church and the parish are also witness of the collective and social idea of community and fellowship. Lay this foundation deep abroad. It is the necessary supplement, or rather complement, of all Christian theology. Even the most faithful ministry of the Word and sacraments is incomplete without some express attempt to realise social principles and human solidarity in some of the forms of common life which the parish supplies. I need not particularise them at length. But I must glance at the more directly religious expression of the principle from this point of view.
I have not considered it my province to furnish either arguments or facts in favour of any of the direct supplementary ministries of religion, now happily revived and at work amongst us. They may really be taken for granted. The sisterhoods of pious and devoted women to which the ministry of many of us owes much of its popular acceptance are
happily familiar and recognised supplementary agencies. I would just refer those who may be interested in the work of deaconesses (however understood), or in the revival and extension of the truer diaconate of men, under new or restored conditions, to some interesting reports of, and debates in the last session of York Convocation, which at least indicate the readiness of our rulers and fathers in God as wise master builders to bring out of their treasures things at once new nd old." And I could add that experiments in both directions have been made, and are meeting with a fair measure of success in the diocese of Manchester. There is still less reason for me to offer an opinion on the wholly modern organisation which has sprung up amongst us in wholly modern times—the Church Army—of which I assume that the fairest account to be given is that it aims at enlisting the zeal of humble and unlettered men, to reclaim and evangelise humble and unlettered men, and that it does not disdain rough instruments for rough work. For it has its own chief to speak for it to-day, and it has received support and encouragement in our own diocese and province from those with more knowledge and authority than I. But I ought to say that not only does the case of the Church Army, as I stated it, seem to me to come well within cover of the ideas of evangelisation and of Church life for which I have contended, but that we have the direct evidence of the parochial clergy who have worked in it, and through it, that it does support these ideas, and that large numbers of settled Church men and women of the humblest class have become communicants, and have been added to the Church body, and have been brought to share the Church life of their parish by its means.
And these are surely not the days to "quench the Spirit," or to “despise prophesyings,” but days for the most vigilant care lest we undervalue or discourage zeal which may be purer and greater than our own. At the same time, no one, I think, can fairly call it discouraging or chilling if one utters an earnest hope that the Church Army may be able to avoid the extravagance, both in doctrine and practice, which has been the snare of the so-called Salvation Army, on which it is avowedly modelled in form ; that it may steadily maintain that reverence is not a question of taste, but a question of principle, resting on the moral law attested by the universal voice of conscience, and not on the feelings of a few fine people; and that it may hold firmly, as the true basis of evangelisation for gentle and simple, rich and poor, to the Creeds and the Catechism, and the sacramental life of the Church. With this sheetanchor, it may be, please God will be, most helpfully supplementary to the parochial system.
But the point I am rather trying to make in conclusion is this. Such enterprises as the Church Army, and, I may add also, the admirable mission work of the Church of England Working Men's Society, and the older-fashioned district visiting associations, are the necessary expression of this true sense of Church fellowship, and of the responsibility of the Christian laity for each other's welfare, both in soul and body. But they do not exhaust that responsibility.
The parish witnesses to more than this—by witnessing to the true constitution of human nature as body, mind, and soul. We hear enough of the territorial character of the parish priest's jurisdiction ; but not always in quite the right direction. I am contending that
it has a moral and spiritual significance. The Christian minister is
. attested by it as minister to the whole man, and charged with the application of Christian principle to all relations of human life. I am denying deliberately that he is sent with a message only to the souls of men. It is really the assertion of this great principle. It regards and treats its Christian parishioners, not as immortal spirits only, but as human beings; not, as is sometimes said, only as so many souls, but as men. And if this is true-and I challenge contradiction—it puts all question of limits of ministerial duty and ministerial influence out of court. It is co-extensive with human life and human duty.
As the programme of this annual Church Congress witnesses to parochial life, and therefore ministerial responsibility, touches politics, art, literature, business, recreation, human progress, and more particularly, and at every point, the whole social welfare and elevation of the people, the facing of these questions, and the setting of them in the light of Christian principles, with practical action upon them in the many small ways in which they present themselves to all of us, this is strictly supplementary to the Church and the parish.
I am speaking with entire respect and even sympathy; but I must enforce my point. The isolation of the human soul from the body, necessary and right as it is for certain purposes and times, and in view of the higher ends of life, and of the temporal end of all life, is yet, in view of present duties, often quite unreal. Language, habits, ways of life, and thoughts which tend, or try, to make this severance universal, which at least ignore the part of the body in every act of the human spirit, are, I submit, not supplementary to, but subversive of, the truer Christian principle which the parochial system represents. things of the Spirit truly are only spiritually discerned.” And there is a large and separate sphere of the Spirit, which cannot be too highly prized or too jealously guarded. The Word and sacraments, are for the sustenance and refreshment of the spiritual life. But the very form and substance of them witness against a too arbitrary or too sustained severance of the two Sacraments, witness ipso facto to the relation of the outward and inward. The religion of Christ is no doubt a creed, a theology, and a Church. But it is, before and above all things, a life. And this life is for each man the state of life to which it pleases God to call him ; and he must therein abide with God. And this the parochial system asserts and exists to promote.
I am therefore urging that what are sometimes called its secondary aspects, are in fact primary and fundamental. It is no condescension, far less a waste of time, for the parish priest to lend his aid to further Christian living in any way. Questions of political and social import, of property and land, of work and wages, of business and pleasure, of trade and morals, of temperance and drink laws, of betting and gambling, of pernicious recreations, and of innocent substitutes for them, are not outside, nor on the edge of his province, with one foot in religion and the other in some other territory, which it is of no use to dispute with the devil, but they are at the centre of it, being in fact the very subject matter of the life he is to teach and illustrate. The lecture, the library, the club, the debating society, the influence upon mind, and on the formation of opinion, the singing class, the concert, the excursion, the attempt to bring young men and young women