J. Ewing (James Ewing) Ritchie.

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Ritchie, J. Ewing 1820-1898

The London pulpit



BY /



" Oh heavens ! from the Christianity of Oliver Cromwell, wrestling in grim fight
with Satan and his incarnate blackguardisms, hypocrisies, injustices, and legion
of human and infernal angels, to that of eloquent Mr. Hesperus Fiddlestring, de-
nouncing capital punishments, and inculcating the benevolences, on platforms,
what a road have we travelled ! " — Carlvle's LiXTER-DAV Pamphlets.







Deae Eobith'son,

In dedicating to you this edition of a
Work, the contents of which originally appeared
under your editorial sanction, I avail myself of one
of the few pleasures of authorship. Of the defects
of this little Volume none can be more sensible than
myself: you will, however, receive it as a trifling
acknowledgment on my part of the generous friend-
ship you have ever exhibited for an occasional col-
league and

Tours faithfully,


FiNCHLEY Common,
Nov. 7, 1857.




* Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto,'
said Terence, and the sentence has been a motto
for man these many years. To the human what
deep interest attaches ! A splendid landscape
soon palls unless it has its hero. We tire of the
monotonous prairie till we learn that man, with
his hoj^es and fears, has been there ; and tlie
barrenest country becomes dear to us if it come
to us with the record of manly struo-o-le and
womanly love. This is as it should be, for

* The proper study of mankind is man.'

In pursuance with this axiom, we have de-
voted some little time to the study of one section
of modern men deservedly worthy of serious re-
gard. There is no subject on wliich men fetl



more intensely than they do on the subject of
religion. There are no influences more perma-
nent or powerful in their effects on the national
character than religious influences. We pro-
pose, then, to consider the pulpit power of Lon-
don. There are in our midst, men devoted to a
sacred calling — men who, though in the world,
are not of it — who profess more than others to
realise the splendours and the terrors of the
world to come — to whom Deity has mysteriously
made known his will. Society accepts their pre-
tensions, for, after all, man is a religious animal,
and, with Bacon, would rather believe all the
fables in the Koran than that this universe were
without a God. For good or bad these men have
a tremendous power. The orator from the pul-
pit has always an advantage over the orator who
merely speaks from the public platform. Glori-
ous Queen Bess understood this, and accordingly
' tuned her pulpit,' as she termed it, when she
sought to win over the popular mind. We deem
ourselves on a level with the platform orator.
He is but one of us~flesh of our flesh, and bone
of our bone. The preacher is in a different ca-
tegory : he in his study, we in the rude bustle of
tbe world ; he communing with the Invisible


and Eternal, we flushed and fevered hj the pass-
ing tumult of the day ; he on the mount, we in
the valley, where we stifle for want of purer air,
crying in our agon}^,

' The world is too much with us ; late or soon,
Getting or spending, we lay waste our powers.'

We feel the disparity — that there ought to be
an advantage on the preacher's side — that there
must be fearful blame somewhere, if his life be
no better than that of other men.

Before we begin our subject, we will get hold
of a few facts and figures. According to the very
valuable Report of Horace Mann on Religious
Worship, it appears that there are, in England
and Wales, 10,398,013 persons able to be pre-
sent at one time in buildings for religious wor-
ship, and that, for the accommodation of such,
34,467 places of worship have been erected, leav-
ing an additional supply of 1,644,734 sittings
necessar}", if all who could attend places of wor-
ship were disposed to do so, the actual accom-
modation being 8,753,279 sittings. In reality,
however, the supply more than keeps pace with
the demand. ' Returning,' says Mr. Mann, ' to
the total of England and Wales, and comparing
the number of actual attendants with tlie num-

B 2


ber of j)ersons able to attend, we find that, of
10,398,013 (58 per cent, of the whole population)
who would be at liberty to worship at one period
of the day, there were actually worshipping but
4,647,482 in the morning, 3,184,135 in the after-
noon, and 3,064,449 in the evening. So that,
taking any one service of the day, there were ac-
tually attending public worship less than half the
number who, as far as physical impediments
prevented, tnight have been attending. In the
morning there were absent, without physical hin-
drance, 5,750,531 ; in the afternoon, 7,213,878 ;
in the evening, 7,333,564. There exist no data
for determining how many persons attended
twice, and how many three times, on the Sunday,
nor, consequently, for deciding how many at-
tended altogether on so77ie service of the day ;
but if we suppose that half of those attending
service in the afternoon had not been present in
the morning, and that a third of those attend-
ing service in the evening had not been present
at either of the previous services, we should ob-
tain a total of 7,261,032 separate persons, who
attended service either once or oftener upon the
Census Sunday. But as the number who would
be able to attend at some time of the day is


more than 58 per cent, (which is the estimated
number able to be present at one and the
same time), probably reaching 70 per cent. — it
is with this latter number (12,549,326) that this
7,261,032 must be compared ; and the result of
such comparisons would lead to the conclusion
that, upon the Census Sunday, 5,288,294 able
to attend religious worship once at least, neglect-
ed to do so.'

The non-attendance appears to be greater in
towns than in our rural populations ; and in this
respect London is not unlike other places. It is
difficult to classify its religious developments ;
but the principal denominations may be stated as
follows :



Church of England and Ireland.
Scottish Presbyterians :

Church of Scotland.

United Presbyterian Synod.

Presbyterian Church in England.
Independents or Congregationalists.
Baptists :



Seventh Day.


New Connexion, General,


Society of Friends.


Moravians, or United Brethren.

Wesleyan Methodists :

Orif/inal Connexion.

New Connexion.

Prim itive Methodists,

Wesleyan Association.

Independe?it Methodists.

Wesleyan Reformers.

Bible Christians.
Calvinistic Methodists :

Welsh Calvinistic Methodists.

Countess of Hioitinydon's Connexion.
Sandemanians, or Glassites.
New Church.
Brethren (Plymouth).



German Protestant Reformers.
Reformed Church of the Netherlands.
French Protestants.


Roman Catholics.

Greek Church.

German Catholics.

Italian Reformers.

Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Lattcr-Day Saints, or Mormons.



In all, 35 ; of these 27 are native, and 8
foreif^n. These are all, or nearly all, the bodies
which have assumed any formal organization.
There are, in addition, many isolated congrega-
tions of religious worshippers, adopting various
appellations, but none of them sufficiently
numerous to deserve the name of a sect.

Of course, the chief of these various denom-
inations is the Church of England. In the
Handbook to Places of Worship, published in
1851, by Low, there is a list of 371 churches
and chapels in connexion with the Establish-
ment. Some of them have very small congrega-
tions, and every one confesses it is a perfect
farce to keep them open. In some of the city
churches, thirty persons form an unusually large
audience. But most of them are well attended.
To these churches and chapels belong, in round
numbers, 700 clergymen. The appointments of
ministers to the parish churches are, in most
cases, under the control of the vicars or rectors
of their respective parishes. In the case of
private chapels, the party to whom the property
belongs has, of course, nominally the right of
appointing the minister ; but, eventually, that
appointment rests with the congregation, for to


thrust in an unpopular preacher against their
wishes would be to destroy his own property.
For the parish churches, again, the right of ap-
pointing the clergymen is Tested in yarious
hands according to circumstances, which it would
require too much time and space to explain at
sufficient lensrth to make them imderstood. The
patronage is, in a great many cases, invested in
the Crown ; but the Bishop of London is also a
large holder of metropolitan patronage. The
Archbishop of Canterbury is patron in several
cases, and, in some instances, holds his patron-
age conjointly with the Crown. In such cases,
the right of appointment is exercised alternately.
The Lord Chancellor is sole patron of four or
five livings in London, and in six or seven other
cases exercises the right of patronage alternately
with the Archbishop of Canterbury, wdth the
Bishop of London, ^vith private individuals, and
with the parishioners. The parishioners possess
the sole right of patronage in only three or four
instances ; and, in one or two cases in the City,
particular corporations possess the right of ap-
pointing the clergy. The doctrines of the
Church of England are embodied in her Articles
and Liturgy. Her orders consist of bishops,


priests, and deacons. Besides, there are digni-
taries — archbishops, deans and chapters, attached
to cathedrals, and supposed to form the council
of the bishops, archdeacons, and rural deans.
The average income of a beneficed clergyman
is £300 a year ; of a curate, £81. The num-
ber of church-sittings in London and the sur-
rounding districts, according to Mr. Mann, is

Next in order are the Independents or Con-
gregationalists, who difier from the Church of
England more in discipline than doctrine. They
maintain the independence of each congregation
— that a church is simply an assembly of
believers. Only two descriptions of church
officers are regarded by them as warranted by
Scriptural authority — bishops or pastors, and
deacons ; and the latter office with them is
merely secular. Amongst them the deacon
merely attends to the temporal affiiirs of the
church. In the Episcopalian Church, the deacon-
ship is the first step to the priesthood. In
London and its neighbourhood the Independents
have about 140 places of worship. Mr. Mann's
return does not give them so many, but he states
the number of sittings to be 100,436.


The Baptists have mucli in common with the
Independents. Like them, they believe in the
unscriptural character of state churches ; and,
like them, believe each church or assembly of
faithful men to be able to manage its own
affairs ; but they differ from nearly every other
Christian denomination on two points — the pro-
per subjects and the proper mode of haptism.
According to them, adults are the proper subjects
of baptism, and im?7iersio7i, not sprinkling, is the
proper mode of administering that rite. As an
organized community, we find them in England
in 1608, about thirty years after Robert Brown
had begun to preach the principles of Independ-
ency. The Baptists have many subdivisions.
The Particular Baptists preponderate : they are
Calvinistic. A remarkable unanimity of senti-
ment has always existed among them, except on
one particular point — the propriety of sitting
down at the communion table with those who
reject adult baptism. Mr. Horace Mann gives
the general body 130 chapels ; Mr. Low, 109.
The Census returns give them accommodation
for 54,234.

The Methodists have, in all, 154 chapels in
London, the larger number of which belong to


the Wesleyans, who are Arminians, who are
governed by a Conference, and whose ministers
are itinerant. Mr. ^lann tells us they seldom
preach in the same place more than one Sunday
without a change, which is effected according
to a plan generally re-made everj'" quarter.
London is divided into ten circuits. Then
there are the Calvinistic Methodists, who were
originated by the labours of George Whitfield,
aided by that devoted Countess of Huntingdon
whose name yet lives in connexion with one of
the most remarkable revivals of religion in our
land. There are several sub-divisions besides.
The original Wesleyan body has suffered much
of late in consequence of the operations of the
"Wesleyan Reformers. It is stated that, by
this division, the connexion sustained a loss of
100,000 members. In London, the Methodists,
including, as in the case of the Baptists, six or
seven sub-divisions, have sittings for 60,696.
Of the number of attendants it is calculated about
12,000 are church members, or communicants.
It may be as well to mention here, that, with the
exception of the Irvingites, and, of course, the
Homan Catholic Church, which only admits
priests to the celebratioiji of the Lord's Supper,


and of the Quakers, who do not profess to observe
that ceremony at all, there are two classes of
persons attending all churches and chapels —
the common hearers, and the smaller class who
profess to be converted and regenerated men.
In the Church of England the theory is, every
baptized man is this ; and therefore every one has
a right to approach what is called the Table of the
Lord. In the Church of Scotland, we presume,
it is the same. An anecdote, which was told by
Mr. J. Haldane, implies this: — that gentleman
stated that once he was present at a Highland
parish church on a sacramental occasion, when
there was a pause, for none of the people seemed
disposed to approach the tables ; on a sudden he
heard the crack of sticks, and, looking round, saw
one descend on the bald head of a man behind
him. It was the ruling elders driving the poor
Highlanders forward much in the same manner
as they were accustomed to pen their cattle.
Among Dissenters only a certain class are sup-
posed to have this right — that class consisting
of those who profess to have become in their
natures changed and sanctified to God, who are
considered to be ' a chosen generation — a pe-
culiar priesthood ! ' They are received into the


church after, generally, a careful scrutiny as to
their motives and convictions and character, and,
at any rate, amongst Dissenters are generally
considered as the Church, for whom a Saviour
died, and on whom he devolves the conversion
of the world.

The remaining divisions of the church and
chapel goers of London may now be disposed of.

The Presbyterians have 23 chapels, some in
connexion with the Church of Scotland, and
some not. The number of chapels thus connected
is 5, and the number of Scotchmen settled in
London being about 130,000, it is more than
probable that Sawney is not the church-going
animal abroad, he most undoubtedly is when he
is at home. It seems that the Scotch attending
Presbyterian churches in London, even if they
occupy every sitting, are not more than 18,211 ;
and, if Sawney were not proverbially an econo-
mical fellow, one would be inclined to hint that
you will catch him taking a cheap railway ex-
cursion on the very day in which, in his ' land of
the mountain and the flood/ it is deemed sinful
to do more than walk from one's home to the
nearest kirk.

jSText, as regards numbers, come the Unita-


rlans, who have 9 chapels in London, and about
3300 sittings.

By-the-bye, we ought to have mentioned
before this the Roman Catholics, who have 35
chapels, and of whom there were, on the Census
Sunday, 35,994 worshipping at one time. In
no case do the Census returns give us the real
attendance. We have merely the number of
sittings, or attendants, morning, afternoon, or
evening. In the case of Roman Catholics, we
have given the number of persons attending in
the morning, there being this diiference between
them and other sects, that with the latter, the
number of sittings will be generally much greater
than that of the attendants, whereas with the
Roman Catholics the reverse is the truth, as
they get more out of their chapels than any
other denomination can.

It seems the mild, drab-coloured men, who
call themselves Quakers, and wear broad-brim-
med hats and square collars, and say 'thee'
and ' thou,' of whom Belgravia knows but little,
but who, nevertheless, are foremost when some
great good is to be done, and some outcast class
is to be reclaimed and saved, are but a feeble
folk, as far as numbers are concerned. The


* youngest of the four surviving sects which trace
their origin to that prolific period which closed
the era of the Reformation/ they promise to be
soonest extinguished. In 1800 they possessed
413 meeting-houses ; in 1851 they had but 851.
Mr. Low gives them 9 chapels ; Mr. Mann but 4,
with sittings for 3151. This latter number,
small as it is, appears to be considerably more
than is required for their services. The real
truth, probabl}^, is, that Quaker worship is too
calm and phlegmatic for this bustling go- a- head
age. In George Fox's time, men held com-
munion with the Invisible and Eternal — with
Him who dwells in the light to which no
man can approach. There are but few who
care to do so now, and therefore is it that
that race of practical philanthropists was
far larger in George Fox's time than ours.
As to the other sects, it is scarcely necessary
that we do more than take a very hasty glance
at them.

The ^Moravian Brethren, who date from 1772,
with Count Zinzendorf at their head (and who
have no reason for their separate existence save
the fact that, when they appealed to the lot as
to whether they should join the Lutherans or


not, the lot was against the junction), have 2
chapels and 1100 sittings.

The Jews have 11 synagogues and 3692 sittings.

The remaining congregations, with the excep-
tion of the Mormonites, who have now 33 places
of worship, are almost exclusively isolated.

There are 94 chapels that thus defj^ classifica-
tion ; nor can we be surprised that such is the
case. Our boast is, that every man is free to
worship God according to the dictates of his
own heart — that religious inquiry is unfettered
amongst us — that every man who chooses may
form a sect for himself. The advantages of this
state of things preponderate over its disad-
vantages. The philosopher may despise, and the
Christian of a generous heart and catholic aspira-
tions may regret, that such should be the case —
may think it better that men had wider views —
better that we should stand on a broader platform
than a sectarian one: but we may not quarrel with
the conditions of religious existence. AVe must
feel that these sects and schisms denote religious
life and thought — that their absence would be
death — and that, as the world grows and the
truth becomes clearer, they will, one by one,


' Thus star by star departs,

Till all have pass'd away ;
And daylight high and higher shines.

Till pure and perfect day.
Nor sink those stars in empty night,
But hide themselves in heaven's own li^ht.


The 94 chapels we have referred to, belonging
to the New Church, the Brethren, the Irvingites,
the Latter-Day Saints, Sandemanians, Lutherans,
French Protestants, Greeks, Germans, Italians,
have accommodation for 18,833. Of course
some of these people have but little reason to
give for the faith that is in them. Actually, in
this age of intelligence — in these days of cheap
literature and cheap schools — there are men and
women so sunk in ignorance as to credit the
absurd pretensions of Joanna Southcote or Joe
Smith ; but these people we must include. We
sit in judgment on none ; and thus we give the

rcii and chapel goers, as loitows

> :

Church of England

. 409,834


. 100,436


. 54,234


. 60,696

Presbyterians . .

. . 18,211



Roman Catholics

. . 18,230




Moravians . . . . . . . . 1,100

Jews 3,692

Isolated Congregations . . . . 18.833


According to tlie last returns, we have the
following population : Finsbury, 323,772 ; Lam-
beth, 251,345 ; London (City), 127,869 ; Mary-
lebone, 370,957 ; Southwark, 172,863 ; Tower
Hamlets, 539,111; Westminster, 241, 611 ; and
with other places not classified, in all, 2,362,236.
If we compare this with the figures I have
given, we shall see that, if all the accommodation
that exists were used, rather more than a quarter
of the London population frequented public
worship. In reality, the number is less. Yet,
perhaps, the returns show as much religious
observance as we could expect.

By way of contrast, let us see how the London
world that is not religious spends its Sabbaths.
A very large and complicated organization
would be required to collect the statistics of the
habits of the population of London on a Sunday,
but an attempt was made on August 16, of the
present year, to throw some light upon the sub-
ject by a few gentlemen accustomed to observe
and estimate large numbers of people. The



outward passenger-traffic by the railways during
the morning appeared to be about as follows : —

Great "Western, by the 8 and 9 o'clock trains

. . 1900

Ditto, by the afternoon trains

. . 2400

South Western, by the two early excursion

trains 2500

Ditto, parliamentary

. . 2800

Ditto, afternoon trains

. . 5000

London and Brighton, with South-Eastern,


Kent, and other lines at London-bridge :

By morning trains

. . 10,500


. . 6000

Great Northern :


. . 1500


. . 2000

Eastern Counties :

Morning . .

. . 1800


. . 4500

North Western :

Morning . .

. . 1800


. . 1000

The steam-boats above and below bridge were
crowded, and the various public gardens, &c., on
the sides of the river, were also crowded. About
14,000 persons passed down the river, and about
6000 upwards, beyond the ordinary river traffic.
In Greenwich Park there were about 80,000
persons, and Gravesend and Woolwich were also
crowded by visitors, estimated at 10,000, includ-
ing the patrons of Eosherville gardens, &.c.

c 2


At 5 o'clock there were nearly 2000 persons
in Cremorne Gardens, and at 8 o'clock fully four
times that number. Hampton Court was scarcely
as crowded by visitors as on some previous days,
but the numbers there and the excursionists to
Kew have been already estimated by the boat
and train. In the Regent's Park the numbers
have not been counted at any time during the
summer, thoug^h some of the " penny-a-liners "
have given the exact number. There was an
immense crowd listening to the people's sub-
scription band in the Regent's Park, and at a low
estimate the numbers considerably exceeded a
hundred thousand. In the Victoria Park, where
another people's band played from five till seven
o'clock, there were about 60,000 persons present
at one time. The aristocracy had a very large
number of carriages in the Hyde Park, and about
8t)00 entered Kensington Gardens durino: the
afternoon. From these estimates, intended to be
free from all exaggeration, it would appear that
out of the population of London, about one
quarter of a million were engaged in what has
been characterized as the " public desecration of
the Sabbath." If we include servants, omnibus -
drivers, cabmen, &c. — persons who follow on the


Sunday the usual avocations of the week, of
course this number is considerably increased.

It is cheering' to think that the pulpit has ad-
vanced ; and to feel, if it have not its lights,

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