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It is like driving nine horses a breast. It will almost inevitably happen that some will be going too fast, and others will lag behind. And, in fact, such symptoms have already shown themselves. From the summary of grants it appears that one or two of the team have already gone far ahead of all the rest, while two or three more would seem to be almost wholly idle. For these loiterers there are but two alternatives—they must either be whipped up, or sent away.
But there is a more serious difficulty attending a scheme so comprehensive. To continue for a moment our homely illustration, each of the team has his 'admirers, anxious that he in particular should make a good figure. Should he fail, they will at once suppose that he has not been fairly treated, and they will withdraw from the concern. Such difficulties as these must inevitably belong to a scheme like that of the Bishop of London's Fund. Its aim, no doubt, was one
. -viz. to erect and organise new parishes; and it appeared wise to originators to include within its scope all the constitutional elements of a well-arranged parish. But these elements are so diverse as to suggest that an attempt has been made to please everybody—an experiment which has frequently been made, but which we may venture to say has never been very successful. It appears to us that it will now be desirable for the Committee carefully and deliberately to make choice of some more limited and distinctive field of action, and trust, by a wellordered distribution of their funds, to command and to retain the public support. It is not too late for such a course, and its adoption at this stage of the proceedings might have a very beneficial influence on the prosperity of the Fund. What we should feel inclined to recommend would be the abandonment of rather more than half the objects at present included in the scheme.
First of all, we would relieve the scheme by the removal of eridowments from the range of its operations. Since the fund was started, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, by new rules, have amply provided for this object: and of course the Committee will not take upon itself a burden which the Commissioners are ready to bear. We should also recommend that no sums be granted for the building of parsonage-houses in already-formed parishes: not that we undervalue this object; on the contrary, we believe it to be of great importance to the welfare of the Church. But in a scheine like this we feel sure that it will never obtain more than a very small amount of assistance; and therefore, both for its own sake and for the sake of the other objects, it had better be withdrawn. Our next step would be to exclude lay agency of all kinds from the list of objects of the Fund. In making this suggestion we feel bound to say, as before, that it is from no wish to disparage this important element in the work of the Church. We believe that as matters at present stand, especially in reference to the supply of clergy, the question of lay agency is one of very urgent importance, and we hope that the Committee of the Fund will not lose sight of the valuable suggestions which they made on this point in their Statistical Report. But looking at this movement as we do, in the light of a vigorous temporary effort to make some permanent provision for the spiritual necessities of the diocese, we venture to think that its strength had better be reserved for other objects, and that whenever it succeeds in its special purpose it will really do more than by any annual grants to provide for the maintenance and extension of lay agency.
After the withdrawal of these objects we should still have four left, presenting, we believe, an ample field for the operations of the Fund, and these four of such a character as to meet the widely differing opinions which must necessarily prevail as to the best method of distribution. These objects would be Missionary clergy, Mission stations, Churches, and Schools. Those who are in favour of the immediate supply of what is called the living agent,' would thus have the first place assigned to them in the more limited scheme; while others, who think that additional clergy are most surely and permanently supplied through the erection of churches, would not find themselves excluded. A large number of persons, who feel very strongly that one of the most hopeful means of evangelising the careless and ignorant is through the education of their children, have here a provision made for the adoption of their favoured plan. And lastly, in the mission station there would be secured a kind of neutral territory, where each of these different parties would find something consonant to their own peculiar views.
It is partly for this reason that we would further venture to recommend that a very large proportion of the Fund should now be expended in providing these mission stations. The Committee have explained very clearly in one of their papers what is meant by this term :-“By the term mission station we have in view a place which may be used not only for religious services, but also for schools, either day, or evening, or ragged, and for any other purposes, such as lectures, Bible classes, and mothers' meetings, which are now so frequently, and with so much benefit, adopted in populous parishes. This is precisely the arrangement which we so strongly urged in writing upon this subject four years ago, and we see no reason to alter our opinion. We are glad to find that it is put
* Quarterly Review,' vol. cix. p. 114.
prominently prominently forward in several of the papers published in connexion with the Fund, and we only further hope that it may have a very large share of attention in the expenditure. Of the fortyeight missionary clergy who have already been set to work by the Fund, there must be a large number very inadequately provided with the matériel' which is absolutely necessary if any permanent results are to be secured. The sheep must have a fold as well as a shepherd, if they are to be kept in safety. Mere street-preaching, or even house-visiting-most desirable as they are in themselves—will be comparatively unproductive unless there be some settled centre to which all these efforts converge, and from which they will far more successfully emanate. But it is not only for these newly-appointed missionary clergy that such provision is required. In almost every poor and populous parish there is room for the work of a mission-station; there is a great deal of work to be done which cannot be done within the walls of the Church; and we heartily agree with the Committee in one of their statements, that even in cases where the number of clergy has not been increased, the provision of a mission station might promote the success of their work, and greatly add to its efficiency.' We are sure that it would, and we hope that this part of the scheme may not be overlooked.
We firmly believe that if for the present the Committee were to suspend all their other operations, and to confine their attention to this one point, they would not only confer a more permanent blessing upon their destitute brethren than by almost any other course, but they would also obtain a far larger response to their appeal for funds than they have yet had, or are likely otherwise to obtain. A proposal to build fifty mission stations in poor and populous parishes would, we feel assured, give new life to the movement and conciliate a very large amount of public support. But there is one particular form of mission station to the providing of which the Committee ought to feel themselves peculiarly bound. We mean that which was recommended so strongly by Mr. Girdlestone in his published letter. It is simply this, -to begin by ‘ providing in destitute parishes a parsonage-house, with a mission room attached, and thus combining the social influence of a clergyman's home with a provision not only for public worship, but for other meetings and occasions connected with parochial work.' This mission-parsonage is really almost the only novel feature in the whole scheme, and to our minds it is one of the most attractive. It is also one of which almost all parties could wholly approve. We trust to learn from the next Report that it has been put in the way of being fairly and extensively tried.
We will venture to make one or two further suggestions in regard to the general management of the Fund. We need say little as to the importance of aiming at permanence in the work which is done. The Committee, we feel sure, are quite agreed with us in this matter, and they have already had a good deal of advice on this point from other quarters. One part of that advice, however, we trust they will never follow,-we mean as regards funding their money and dealing only with the interest of the capital sum. Such a course would be completely at variance with the character of the Fund. Rather let them spend their money as quickly as they can, consistently with a wise distribution. An empty exchequer is an admirable basis for a fresh appeal, if only there be something to show for what has been already expended. But for the same reason the Committee should be careful as to increasing their annual liabilities beyond the bounds of prudence. The charitable public does not much like to contribute towards the discharge of obligations already incurred. If new work is to be done new funds will be forthcoming ; but if the money is required for the payment of existing debts it will not be found easy to command either attention or assistance. By all means let the annual grants be continued in such proportion as may be necessary in order to render available to the fullest extent the permanent provisions which may be made. There would be no use in providing the mere machinery without the motive power. But there is as little good in having that motive power in excess of the machinery. In a movement of this kind there is always a strong temptation to do what is popular rather than what is prudent, and to adopt methods which have in them some element of that excitement which is so unhappily characteristic of our times, because the apparent results they produce are, in some measure, direct and tangible. But we must beware of what is called 'sensation' in matters of this kind. Let us not think of applying to the great interests of religion the popular maxims of commercial speculation. This is not the sphere of quick returns and small profits. The work is one which needs both faith and patience, and in which we may have long to wait before we see the fruit brought to perfection. We must lay our foundations deep, if our work is to remain. We must be ready to forego some popular applause if we would entitle ourselves to the praise of posterity. And it is for this reason that we would strongly urge that in everything that is done the constant aim should be to strengthen and extend the existing parochial system, which has already stood the test of so many centuries. We are quite aware that among some of the active religionists of our day it is
often said that this system has failed. On this point we are glad to quote the words of the Bishop of Ripon, himself for some time a London rector in one of the destitute parishes. Speaking in the Northern Convocation, some weeks ago, he said He would entirely and unhesitatingly deny that the parochial system had failed. If the benefits derived from that system had not been so great as they ought to have been, it only proved that they had not made that system co-extensive with the wants of the country. Call any new scheme by what name they pleased, he should be most jealous of it if it had a tendency in any way to clash or interfere with the parochial system.' "Once more, it appears to us that it ought to be one of the leading principles in the management of this fund to elicit as much help as possible from local sources, and to consider carefully how this can best be done. We have considerable faith in the power of even the poorest neighbourhoods to contribute towards the supply of their own wants if once they are put in the way
of doing so. But it is evident that what they can most easily do is to raise small sums continuously, and that what they cannot do is to raise a large sum within a limited time. It would seem, therefore, most advisable to look to them in every case for some portion of the annual stipends, and to assist them more liberally in the larger undertakings which require an immediate expenditure of considerable sums of money. Once fairly established, these institutions, whether schools, or churches, or mission stations, might in a great degree depend for their maintenance upon those continuous offerings, however small, which can be obtained even in the poorest neighbourhoods. We feel sure that this principle of requiring a contribution from local sources to meet grants from a central fund, is one of great importance. The Committee are quite agreed with us upon this point also. We quote their own words : Although such a population (that is, a poor population) by the union of small contributions may help materially in the maintenance of the services of a church, it is unequal to the original effort which is needed to raise it.' It will be of the greatest importance that this principle should be steadily maintained in the distribution of the fund. On the same principle we would express a hope that the Committee will always endeavour to elicit by their operations as much assistance as possible from the funds in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.
We fear that the suggestions we have now made will almost necessarily be unacceptable to some portion of those who have so kindly and zealously interested themselves in the administration of the Fund; but we would fain hope that, in a matter like this, there will be a willingness on all sides to make some con