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The Rev. A. W. MILROY, Preacher at the Rolls Chapel, and
Rector of Newnham, Hants.
The position of this subject as last in the Congress programme does not by any means represent the place it holds in the minds of us all. On the contrary, it is uppermost in our minds as ministers of Christ, and it is now forced upon our attention by the great political movements of the day. I protest and I ask my brother clergy to protest against our being identified with the interests of the rich. We may claim to be pontiffs, that is pontifices, which, as Dean Stanley reminds us, means bridge-makers, the only bridge between the rich and the poor belonging to both alike and if possible to the poor rather than to the rich. If we clergy are not the defenders of the poor, who are? We are the only “independent” ministers, and not any of the Noncon. formists, as one of them when asked if he were the Independent minister of such and such a place, replied with grim humour, “ No, sir, I am the dependent minister of an independent congregation. I rejoice that the greatest stress in the line of Church defence has been laid upon this point that the clergy are the poor man's friends. We hear of the promise of free education, and some ask, Why should not the children of the poor be fed for nothing as well? It is, I believe, a clergyman of the Church of England who has answered that question by providing penny dinners for poor children attending school. I wish especially to plead that in our preaching we should give a larger place to the claims of justice between man and man, and righteousness in commercial relations. I believe that the people long for some utterance from us on these questions. The Bible more than any other book enforces the claims of justice and righteousness, and the cause of the poor, but we are apt to be too much priests and to fulfil too little the work of the prophets of old. Are there not texts enough? Take the question land. It is not an English but an American clergyman who recalls the forgotten text that the land is the absolute possession neither of the rich nor of the poor, but all are stewards, "for the land is Mine, for ye are strangers and sojourners with Me.” Do we wish to touch upon the labour and wages question ? Jeremiah gives the warning, “Woe unto him that useth his neighbour's service without wages and giveth him not for his work, that saith I will build me a wide house and large chambers, and it is ceiled with cedar and painted with vermilion." Dr. Pusey has well said that “to show mercy on the poor by allowing them to minister to our luxuries is according to the new philosophy of wealth to be the counterfeit of Christian charity.”. I am glad to hear a protest made against the tyranny of political economy. It has, I fear, in many cases lulled the Christian conscience to sleep. To employ the simile used by a statesman lately, political economy is only the soothing syrup which puts the infant to rest, but does not cure the disease. I believe that the principle of market price has been the ruin of many a labourer, for it has often meant starvation. Again and again it comes up even where least expected. As a member of a School Board, I recently proposed to add to the salary of a schoolmistress upon which I knew she could barely live with comfort, but I was told that we must be ruled with the market price. I do not find the phrase “market price” in the Bible, though I do find something of the spirit of those who would make it the rule of all our dealings. The grumbling servants in the parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard clamoured for market prices, and wished to reduce the labourers who came in last to wages that meant starvation, but I read that they met with the severest denunciation from the lord of the vineyard. And may I make an appeal to our cathedrals to come and help us country clergy in this matter of preaching, as one of the subjects discussed has been the relation of the cathedral to the diocese? I lately met with a Liberationist tract in our village which asked what was the use of idle canons receiving a salary of £1,000 a year? They did not dare to ask such a question about bishops, for you, my lord, by coming in person to our parish as to almost every parish in your diocese, have made the labouring people feel that you are the hardest working man in the county. It is not enough that the villagers should go up to the cathedral and remember it as a magnificent pile of stone, but we want that the cathedral should come to the villagers in the form of living preachers speaking with the living voice the humblest. If only the scholar's brain could thus be brought into touch with the poor man's heart, if our Church showed that she did not grudge to feed her humblest children with the finest of the wheat, and to pour, in the person of her canons, her treasures of wisdom and knowledge at the feet of the poorest labourer in order to commend the Gospel of Christ to him, then we need not fear the agricultural vote, for the people would be anxious to preserve and per. petuate an institution of which they had reaped the benefits in person, and of which the blessings had been brought to their very doors. I read in to-day's Times of that great man who has to-day been laid in the grave, Lord Shaftesbury, the words that “it was of no avail to tell him that finally the particles beneath would struggle to the top. He looked on the waste meanwhile of human labour and human happiness and would not wait.” We clergy ought not to wait in pressing the claims of righteousness. We may offend some possibly of the middlemen and lower middle classes. I care not if we do. The Reform Bill of 1832, as a statesman has told us, enfranchised the lower middle class, and it is they who fill the ranks of Dissent, and are the bitterest enemies of the Church. May we not hope that the Reform Bill of 1885 may readjust the balance of power by giving the working men their political rights, and that we may have the people on our side if the Church only shows that she makes their cause her own?
The Rev. E. R. CHRISTIE, Head Master of the West
Kent Grammar-School, Brockley.
The question facing us to-day, which we can only avoid by retreating from the century, is this—How to make Christianity, which we believe to be a universal religion, applicable to the new needs of the age. It is a question for all the Churches. It is more especially the problem of that Church which claims in this country to be national and representative. We are asked to consider one of the gravest phases of the great social problem-namely, the relation between employers and employed. It is a province where much might be quoted against the capitalist to prove him guilty of selfishness, and where the toilers have shown elevated endurance. On the other hand, it is easy to point to employers who display a large clemency, and to working men who, not content to be the quellers of tyrants, are the fertilisers of fierce longing for an age of anarchy. What shall be the attitude of the Church, when her children are thus alienated each from each? First, we must beware of substituting big language for truth. We must not confound political speculation and economic practice. It is well that we should have our choice volumes of ideal commonwealths, that Plutarch should have left the epic Life of Lycurgus, and Bacon have bequeathed The New Atlantis, and More have dreamed of an unclouded Utopia. But it is preposterous to suppose that society is at our immediate disposal, independent of its past development, devoid of its inherent instincts, and capable easily of being regenerated by the mere modification of certain legislative rules. We may be able to call a new England into being “ to redress the balance of the old,” but it will only be by several generations of churchmen spending years of most earnest manhood in profound labour underground. The Church must cherish and practise “plain living and high thinking. What else can we do? We can learn a beautiful economy, that so we may have more to give. We can offer the poor more friendship and less patronage. And we can cultivate undivided love of our fellows, steadfast faith in humanity, strenuous search after justice, and cheerful acceptance, in all our labours, that the future may reap whatever reward may be. It may be said that practical doing is needed now more than passionate declamation. But I am not sure of this. This I am certain of, that the sphere of the economist is inferior to the province of the prophet. The English Church is rich in her prelates and priests, and her long brotherhood of saints ; what she lacks, and what each generation should produce is a prophet. By a prophet I understand one who has journeyed back to the hidden wells, and having tasted of the secret waters, has returned with the power of erasing evil. We want a prophet to disentangle this complexity of capital and labour-nay, we want a school of sublime teachers, whose distinction will be neither correct thought, nor an eye for the exigencies of practical organisation, but simply depth, fervour for humanity, bringing with them the gift of touching ten thousand hearts by virtue and the things of the Spirit. Science will never save the world. It is as true to-day as 120 years back, when Rousseau wrote “People suppose they have described what the sciences do, when they have only described what the sciences ought to do !”. If applied Christianity cannot save us, class distinctions will not diminish, but develop, vague agitation will change into vital action, and the blank practice of the present generation of Socialists grow into a more deadly business of ball and shell. We are watching the unfolding of a great historic drama dating from 1789. We are now in the second act, and the dramatic dialogue is fierce and fast. Economic speculators make splendid guesses as to what will follow ; but the fifth and final act is known only to the angel of prophecy. But God is not asleep, and if the Church is faithsul the Spirit of Christ will yet leaven life. The capitalist will then clasp hands with Justice and Mercy; the workman will then know the worth of life and labour, and, having sustenance, will find the sunlight pleasant; and then, once more, you may be proud of a regenerated country, for where there is now weakness there will then be strength ; where there is no lasciviousness there will then be labour; and wilfulness will quail and grow quiet before the serene eyes of subordination. But this, you say, is Utopia! And what would life be without its aspirations? For it is only by believing in, cherishing, and climbing towards inimitable ideals, that an individual or a nation grows great.
The Rev. HENRY BRAMLEY, Vicar of Uffculme, Devon.
I HOPE that thirty years' work among the poor will excuse stammering lips when I speak on a subject that I have very dearly. at heart. We heard just now of a murmuring in towns against the rich. I am sorry to say that it is not confined to the towns. I labour in a town partly manufacturing and partly agricultural. Nothing grieved me more than to find a statesman speaking the other day of rich men as those who “neither toil nor spin.” I think that such utterances are to be deprecated. In the country we are suffering from what you are happily ignorant of, I hope, in towns--depression ; and I am sorry to think that when there is such a depression there should be an attempt to set class against class. Nobody sympathises more than myself with a statesman who would try to bridge over the gulf that yawns between rich and poor. I see no good in speaking against landlords as if they were the
only ones to blame. There are good landlords. I would have those words of the Times describing Lord Shaftesbury as a landowner written with letters of gold, to show what landlords can be and are. If there are bad landlords, are there not also bad merchants? I hear those who employ labour complaining that the labourers of the present day are not what labourers were in the past. I hear mistresses say that you cannot get servants like those of the old times. Why do not the labourers of the present day work like those of the old time? Do they not see their sons and daughters going out into the world, and their sons employed as porters and on works, and gradually increasing their wages as they improve in the knowledge of their work, and rise to higher positions ? Do they not see their daughters going into service, and gradually getting higher and higher wages ? And these poor men stop at home and toil and spin, and have, as a statesman said, "little in prospect for their old age.' With regard to the ladies, I cannot sympathise with them. They want to live in the present, and they want their servants to live in the past. They want to enjoy all the comforts and luxuries of the present age, and their servants are to go on toiling as they did in the age that has gone. Ladies want more finery, and more holiday and more dissipation and more lawn-tennis, but the servants are to toil on. Then as to the subject of non-residence. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says that he wants a new source of taxation. Why not tax the non-residents? I do not say it because I am jealous of them. But I think that property has its duties as well as its rights. I wish that the rich would be more discriminating in their charity, as Mr. Walrond said, not deluge the poor with silver and gold, but say to them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, “Rise up and walk and lead purer lives," and help them to do it. I think that as clergy we could do a great deal more to raise the people and do them good. In the first place let us take care that in our Churches there is no difference between rich and poor. Why do we call our vestry meetings when poor people cannot attend? Why do we not have them at hours when they can come and take an interest in the affairs of the Church, so that it shall be not in name but reality, their Church as well as ours ?
F. J. CANDY, Esq. One great thing wanted is justice between employer and employed. Another great thing wanted is honesty-honesty in the workman, the manufacturer, the grocer, and the producer. Everything ought to have its true composition stated; and I think that the Church might set a good example in this respect. Let there be a Church Mill Company. Let the shares be taken by the clergymen and the laymen of the Church. Let the workers be daughters of shareholders or clergymen. Take one of the lovely secluded valleys in which there is still a beautiful mountain stream. Build there a mill, and a village, and a church. Let the workers go for three years. Let the novices of the first year be "juniors" the second year, and the third year be “seniors." Let the novices and the seniors live together night and day, each novice being put with a senior. Let the workers be daughters of shareholders and clergymen. Let no others work in the mill. Let no others enter the mill while they are working. Then let the mill run night and day, and let them work by relays. Let half the seniors and their novices work in the morning ; the other half of the seniors and their novices work in the evening, and the juniors in the night ; and let the mill run night and day from Monday morning to Saturday morning. That is the way to get the work out of the machinery. Why should machinery stop in the night?' On Saturday let men, engineers and others, come and clean and repair the machinery. Let the material wrought be pure silk.
The Rev. J. COWDEN COLE, Vicar of Upton, Somerset.
One of the “last words” that seem to me to want speaking on this subject is with reference to the “unemployed.” I believe that that is the most serious part of this question, as we who live in England at the present time are most likely in that state of society, in which we might have a most terrible evil come upon us, owing to the large population which there now is in the country, and from the fact that there might not be sufficient means of employment for all our people. The few minutes, however, allotted to me will not allow me to follow out this point further. I think, however, that all these questions of political and social economy ought to be taken up by the clergy, and I am glad, for my own part, to see that, at any rate by one of the bishops, they have been placed as a study on a level with a theological subject. I do think, that the more these questions of political economy are discussed by us with our people the better it will be for us as a Church, and we shall find that we shall obtain a larger hold over the great mass of the working people of this country, and we shall be able to discharge those duties which fall to us as a Church in this age-to guide the people in their political and social relations, even as in the past generation we have guided them in their more purely individual relationships. I firmly believe that we ourselves are standing between two opposing generations. We have the individual and his history in the past, and we have now that broad and wide field of society which comes with all its great claims upon our hearts; and whereas, perhaps, we shall feel the special points of doctrine of the past generation grow weary upon us in the light of the laws of society, we shall be able to place the foundations of religion upon such a basis that they will prove to be true and eternal, and able to meet the wants of the coming time.
The Rev. CHARLES R. LLOYD ENGSTRÖM, Rector of St. Mil. dred's, Bread Street, London, and Secretary of the Christian
There have been some very eloquent speeches. In one of them the speaker said that we must be adroit in laying hold of the labourers, or at any rate of those who are to be the voters at the next election. I think that we shall be exceedingly adroit if we can get hold of them in a month. I also think I shall be very adroit if I can say anything worth hearing in five minutes. Underlying the questión discussed this afternoon is the great principle enunciated by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, that “Christianity is a Life. The way in which Christianity deals with these social questions is somewhat after the following fashion :-Suppose that we take, as an illustration, the way in which plant-lise overcomes the resistance of inert matter. It does not do so by pitting its weight against that of the dead clods, though sometimes plant-life, when fully developed, becomes a factor even in regard to mere weight. Still the pacific way in which plant-life overcomes that which has not life in it, is by its principle of vital energy. And to apply this illustration. Christianity must deal with social problems, by using the force of its spiritual vitality. “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God, to the pulling down of strongholds." The effect will generally depend upon the quiet but resistless force of its unseen but Divine energy, which reduces into order the mass of seemingly insurmountable difficulties, and thus gradually solve the hardest problems. At the same time it is true that Christianity is often, and justifiably so, a recognised power in the world. A Joseph, a Daniel, even a Solomon in his early days, might rightly use his position as a prime minister or as a monarch for godly purposes ; though the case of the last-named shows the extreme danger of depending on this worldly influence. Another instance is the gradual deterioration of the originally noble position of the Bishops of Rome. With reference to the question of slavery, I think that perhaps Mr. Spottiswoode, who is, by the way, beloved and respected by his own employés, has not altogether considered the subject on both sides. He seemed to throw out the view that, in respect of slavery, which is a terrible blot on Greek and Roman civilization, Christianity had no cause to be ashamed of its record. That question was very much discussed in Hyde Park during the summer by the secularists, and by others on the Christian side, including myself. I have come to the conclusion that we have not got very much to boast of in respect of the external aspects of slave-holding, but that Christians may justifiably point to its inherent power of gradually severing this frightful evil. For where Christians attain a certain point, that position is a possession for ever. You may, indeed, compare the condition of the slaves in the times of the greatness of the Greeks and Romans, and you may find instances in the United States in Christian times quite as bad. And we must remember the sad fact that this latter slavery was not a tradition inherited by white men from those whom they found there on arriving from Europe, but that they actually imported slaves from Africa. That is an indelible disgrace upon those who thus polluted the Name of God. Still there has been a wonderful growth of a truly Christian spirit, and we have assured grounds of hope and belief that when it has permeated men's thoughts the accursed principle of slavery, and other principles cogent with it, will for ever lose their strength.