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for the relief of spiritual destitution in the metropolis and its suburbs.
The details of the scheme are probably now familiar to most of our readers. We can only here repeat the list of objects to be embraced in the operations of the fund. These objects were to be as follows:-1. Missionary Clergy or additional Curates; 2. Scripture Readers; 3. Mission Women; 4. Clergymen's Residences ; 5. Schools; 6. Mission Rooms or School Churches; 7. Endowment of Old or New Districts; 8. Endowment of Curacies; 9. Building of Churches. And thus the great scheme was launched, and rolled away with all sails set to catch the breeze from whatever quarter it might chance to blow. With such an ingenious adjustment of canvas every wind would be fair, and although the course might not be very direct, the voyage would in any case be prosperous. Once fairly under weigh, the committee set themselves to study the chart, and they appointed a Special Committee; after months of laborious investigation this Committee published a careful report, under the title of Statistics as to the Religious Condition of London.'
There are one or two features in this paper of statistics which we ought not to leave altogether unnoticed. We are happy to observe that in framing their report the Committee have not omitted to consider that there were other Christian communities at work in the diocese besides the Church of England. They have made ample allowance for what these bodies are doing, and for what they might be expected to do, and they have made their calculations accordingly. These various communities have done much to fill the
in our ecclesiastical arrangements, and to overtake the work which the Church has been obliged to leave undone. We may wish that the Church had been able to occupy the whole field; but we can have imbibed little of the spirit of St. Paul, or of his Master and ours, if we cannot say with him 'Everyway Christ is preached, and therein I do rejoice; yea, and I will rejoice.'
The Statistical Committee found that, after making every allowance for the labours of other communities, there yet remained in the Diocese of London about One Million of persons for whom no adequate provision was made either as regards public worship or pastoral care.
It is somewhat remarkable that the result thus attained should agree so accurately as it does with the estimate of Bishop Blomfield, formed on a similar occasion nearly twenty years ago. • It is fearful to think,' he says, “and yet I see not how we can escape the conclusion, that more than a million of souls in this vast aggregate of human beings are unprovided with the means 2 F 2
of grace, and that for want of them thousands and thousands are suffered to pass every year into the eternal world, in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity, having no share in the comforts, or privileges, or hopes of the Gospel.' But the standard by which Bishop Blomfield estimated the deficiency was considerably higher than that now assumed by the Report before us. Judged by the same rule as that which he had adopted, our destitute million of to-day would be changed for a number larger still.
Such being the state of the case, it must at once be allowed that the Bishop and his committee had made no unnecessary demand upon the liberality of the Church when they asked for even the large annual income of 100,0001. for ten years to come. If they had needed encouragement, they had only to call to mind what had been done in other quarters for similar ends. They would naturally look back to the very similar effort made by the predecessor of the present Bishop. The Church-Extension scheme of Bishop Blomfield had the same ultimate object in view, and had to draw its resources from the same quarters. Two months after the publication of his proposal in 1836 the subscriptions reached 74,0001. ; and before the close of that year they exceeded 106,0001. Within twelve months from the issuing of his appeal, the whole sum promised to his Fund was, in round numbers, 120,0001., of which there was actually paid within the same period upwards of 90,0001. ; and, ultimately, instead of building fifty churches, as he originally proposed, he was enabled, through the operation of his Fund, to provide no fewer than seventyeight, and to add more than 150 clergy permanently to the staff of the diocese.
But there is another and a very different quarter to which the Committee might have looked for an example of what may be done in a cause like that of which they had become the champions.
The famous utterance of Dr. Chalmers with regard to Bishop Blomfield's scheme has often been quoted. Advise him,' said the Doctor, to be more moderate in his views, otherwise his whole scheme will be nothing more than a devout imagination, impossible to be realised.' Within a few years after expressing this opinion, Dr. Chalmers himself was called, in the providence of God, to take the lead in a very similar movement, and with at least an equal success. In the year following what is called the Disruption of the Presbyterian Church in Scotland there was raised by the Free Church, as a general fund for church-building alone, and chiefly by the exertions of Dr. Chalmers, the sum of 85,0001. In the following year, a similar effort on behalf of schools produced nearly 40,0001. And in the next year again another
fund was commenced for the erection of parsonages, which, during a course of years, produced upwards of 100,0001. Altogether, during the fifteen years which immediately followed the Disruption, there was raised for such purposes only as are included within the scheme of the Bishop of London, a general fund of not less than 2,000,0001., in addition to a further sum of about the same amount, contributed locally for the same objects; and at this present time there is still raised for one of these purposes only, namely, the payment of ministers' stipends, a sum of about 120,0001. yearly, in addition to about 100,0001. more, raised locally by congregations for the same object. All this has been done, and is being done, in a country far inferior in wealth to our own, whose whole population scarcely exceeds that of the diocese of London, and by a Church which does not number more than one-third of that population among its adherents, and these for the most part of the middle and lower classes. No doubt a large allowance must be made for that excitement of controversy which unhappily appears to be a more powerful stimulus than almost any other to liberality of this kind; nor would we forget the urgent necessity of their position when the seceding half of an Established Church found themselves beginning their new career without stipends, churches, parsonages, or schools. But on the other hand, we are bound to remember that while the feeling of animosity which once prevailed is happily abated, the amount contributed for these purposes is not only undiminished, but is increasing every year.
The sum raised by the Sustentation Fund alone (that is to say, for ministers stipends), during the past year, was very nearly twice as great as it was in the first vigour of the movement, twenty years ago. It is impossible to deny the fitness of the language in which the leaders of the Free Church characterise these efforts as a great and marvellous success. But there can surely be no reason why this success should not be rivalled by the Bishop of London's Fund. In a diocese which may be called the head-quarters of the Church of England, and which includes within it the richest city of the world; in a city containing a large number of the world's wealthiest inhabitants, and attracting to itself, for many months in every year, a multitude of wealthy visitors ; in the metropolis of England, with its yearly rental of probably 17,000,0001., on which a rate of three halfpence only would produce the whole sum of 100,0001., annually required ; under such circumstances as these, so far at least as regards the sources of supply, the success of such an enterprise ought not for a moment to be doubted. We might point to several other quarters where similar efforts have been made with results full of encou
ragement to the Committee of the Bishop's Fund. We need only, however, allude further to one of the most recent, the Church-Extension movement in Leeds, for which, in the course of not more than ten months, a sum has been raised of about 55,0001. We venture to hope that the manufacturers and employers of labour in London will follow the noble example of their brethren in Leeds, by whom alone a very large proportion of the above sum has been contributed.
It is time for us now to inquire what measure of success has attended so far the operations of the Bishop of London's Fund. In the Report recently published, and dated 31st December, 1864, we find it stated that up to the end of the eighteen months during which the fund had then existed the total receipts had been, in round numbers, 100,0001.; but that further contributions had been promised during the next ten years, or less, amounting to about 72,0001. It appears, then, that during the first eighteen months there has been paid or promised a total sum of 172,0001. This is no doubt a very considerable sum of money; but it will be seen at once that it falls far short of what was desired. The proposal was to raise 100,0001. per annum for ten years.
But this is almost exactly the sum which has been raised in a yearand-a-half. The remaining 72,0001. has nothing to do with these first years ; it is a portion of what is to be contributed in years to come. It has thus taken eighteen months to do the work of twelve.
It is no doubt a cause for thankfulness that nearly 100,0001. has been already received for the work of the Church in the diocese of London; but it is a matter of regret that this sum is one-third less than that which was asked, and which was undoubtedly needed. In a movement of this kind the largest measure of success is almost always obtained at the outset, unless by the introduction of some new feature in the scheme, or through some change of circumstances, a fresh impetus is given to the undertaking. The history of Bishop Blomfield's scheme has its lessons of warning as well as of encouragement. His success was for the most part achieved during the first twelve months. The contributions which had been promised during this period amounted to nearly 120,0001. : in the next year they had fallen to 10,0001.; and in the next to 5,0001. A considerable increase, viz., to 13,0001., marked the following year, which was that of the initiation of the special movement in Bethnal Green ; but after this period the annual income rapidly diminished, and eventually had almost disappeared. In the present case the Fund has already drawn into its treasury the contributions of almost all the usual donors in such cases; and the number of these, even in our vast metropolis, is
lamentably and shamefully small. A good many more may possibly have been attracted by the novelty and magnitude of the scheme. But the Committee have probably obtained already the largest donations which they are likely to receive; and more than a tenth part of all that has been paid and promised is contributed by two donors of 10,0001. each. We do not mean to say that under these circumstances the Committee should be at all discouraged ; still less that they should despair ; but perhaps it would be well for them at this stage of their operations to consider what causes may possibly have hindered their progress hitherto, and by what means they may hope to ensure a larger measure of success in the time to come.
To these considerations we now address ourselves in the very limited space which we can at present devote to this subject. And first as regards the scheme itself. Its comprehensive character and widely varied objects are, no doubt, to some extent, elements of popularity, but they are also as certainly elements of weakness. The programme seems to be wanting in what we may call individuality. There seems at first sight to be no master idea, no governing purpose apparent in the arrangement of the scheme. It looks like a mere aggregation of the old existing societies. We are no advocates for great novelty in such matters; we would rather stand on the old ways, and strengthen the things that remain. But there is room for fresh combinations and fresh developments where the ancient foundations remain unchanged; and in this sense the Church, like a wise householder, should bring forth out of her treasure things new and old. We remember hearing the present Bishop of London say very happily, in presiding at some public meeting, that he frequently met with persons who, when asked to subscribe to certain objects, had some conscientious objection to the particular scheme put before them, and on that ground withheld the help which (as they professed) they would gladly have given under other circumstances. The Bishop added that, fortunately, there was now such a variety of societies for purposes so manifold, and on principles so various, that if any one who had peculiar views on these subjects would only inform his Lordship what these views were, he believed he could point out to him some channel through which with the safest conscience he might disburse his alms. This thought seems to have been present to the minds of the Bishop and his friends when they drew out the programme of the present scheme. There is ample choice of objects for scrupulous donors, to any one of which their contributions may be given. But a scheme like this, with its nine different objects, must always be extremely difficult to handle.