Church of England. Leeds Rural Deanery.

What are the best means of reclaiming our lost population? : a report presented to the Ruri-decanal Chapter of Leeds (Volume Talbot Collection online

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Online LibraryChurch of England. Leeds Rural DeaneryWhat are the best means of reclaiming our lost population? : a report presented to the Ruri-decanal Chapter of Leeds (Volume Talbot Collection → online text (page 1 of 3)
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U N lY t R5 ITY
or 1 LLl NOIS











October 20th, 1851.

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The Committee appointed at the Ruri-decanal Chapter, held
on Monday, September 1st, 1851, to take into consideration
the best means of reclaiming that large portion of the popu-
lation, who are unhappily lost to the Church and to religion,
beg leave to present the following Report : —

The Committee, when entering upon their deliberations,
could not but be impressed with a deep sense of the momen-
tous character of the questions and interests involved ; they
could not but feel themselves on many grounds very incom-
petent to the task committed to them, and their only, as it
was their proper resource, was to ask His help, and guidance,
and blessing, whose work they sincerely desired to advance,
and whose Spirit they earnestly trusted would over-rule all
their reflections, to the promotion of His glory, and the good
of His Church.

For your Committee could not take any other view of the
present circumstances of the Church and the world, than one
calculated to excite the most serious and thoughtful, and even
alarmed attention, of all who care for the cause of truth and
morality, of all who sincerely wish the welfare of their fellow-
creatures, and believe that Christ's Gospel and His Church
are the only efficient means of promoting either truth or

Everywhere your Committee can see a special call for exer-
tion on the part of the Church ; whether they look at the

workings of a refined infidelity, or to a revived and aggra-
vated superstition, or at the widening dissensions in other
religious communities, or at the large amount of population
yet unprovided with the means of grace, it is evident that
the present is a season for putting forth the energies of
the Church, such as scarcely ever before has been witnessed.
They are not unmindful of the great work which has been
done in and through the Church of England during the
last fifteen years ; they need to go no further than this dio-
cese, or indeed this town, to perceive ample proof of this,
and to find the most abundant reason for deep and earnest
thankfulness to Almighty God.

But yet is it very certain, that the results of the quickened
life of the Church, whilst afi'ording abundant reason for
gratitude and encouragement, do also shew more clearly than
before the vast field of labour yet before us. The more we
penetrate beneath the surface, the more do we perceive the
absolute necessity of increased diligence and spiritual culture,
if we would preserve a large portion of our country from
being over-run with superstition or infidelity.

Under the influence of these convictions, the Committee
would strongly recommend, that, in an age so loudly calling
for a better adaptation of the principles of the Church to
new and increasing wants, every thing should be done on the
part of the clergy to meet these requirements, and that in
every way, in which they can lawfully come forward, they
should be most ready to do so. Your Committee say, "law-
fully come forward," for they would express in the outset, in
the most emphatic manner for themselves, and they doubt not
for the whole body of the clergy in this rural deanery, their
settled conviction, that what is wanted is adaptation of means,
and not change of principles, and that any departure from the
mind and law of the Church, as embodied in her Liturgy and
Articles, is as undesirable as it would be dangerous.


But whilst keeping the principles and rules of the Church
in the strictest sense inviolate, your Committee cannot but
think, that much might be done to accommodate the per-
formance of Divine Service, and the ministrations of the
Church generally, to the wants and habits of the people.

I. The evils or inconveniences which have occupied their
attention are these : —

1. First of all, your Committee are aware of the strong
feeling entertained by many, especially the young, the illiterate,
and the infirm, as to the inconvenient and trying length of
the Sunday Morning Service : that both physically and men-
tally it is beyond the capabilities of a large portion of th«

2. They are also disposed to think, that for children there
has been no adequate provision made, and that a service
might be specially adapted for them, " much more suitable
than the ordinary Morning and Evening Service of the

3. It has also been deeply impressed upon them, that the
comparative paucity of attenders at the administration of
the Holy Communion is in a considerable degree to be attri-
buted to its celebration at a time of the day when it is most
inconvenient to the humbler classes, and effectually prevents
the attendance of the wives and mothers amongst our poorer
brethren : for it is evident that where there is no domestic
to take the charge, the parents cannot leave their children
until the hour for their retiring to rest.

4. Your Committee have also had their attention power-
fully arrested by the consideration of the vast numbers of
the working classes who at present never frequent the House
of God, and for whom an agency and an appeal are required
beyond what the usual orderly and settled Services of the

• See Note, A.


Church supply ; the call here seems to demand instant and
zealous response from all who have heen charged by their
Lord and Master with the cure of souls.

5. Nor can your Committee hide from themselves, that, in
another important respect, the Church has not hitherto pro-
vided for the spiritual wants of her members, especially the
illiterate and the poor ; they allude now to the want of an
authorised hymn-book in the Church.

For any one who has studied the mental characteristics of
children knows that whilst often disposed to regard reading
as a drudgery, they will nevertheless look upon the learning
of poetry, and especially of hymns, as a delightful task.
These they will learn with alacrity and pleasure, and remem-
ber for a long period almost without an effort : and who can
estimate the influence for good of religious sentiments thus
early and powerfully impressed upon the mind ? Surely by not
having an authorised hymnology suited to the wants of the
Church, for the rich and the poor, the old and the young,
for divine service, as well as for domestic and private use, the
Church of England abandons a great and powerful, as it is
an acceptable and legitimate, instrument for good.

6. Another most important subject has also closely occupied
the minds of your Committee, viz. : the necessity of a large
increase of the staff of the clergy for the full and efi&cient work-
ing of the parochial system ; and this with regard to all the
three orders of the ministry, but especially the order of deacons.
At present, in this town, notwithstanding a considerable sub-
division of the original parish of Leeds into new parishes and
districts, there is, in many populous localities, but a single
clergyman, and in others not more than two, who are utterly
incapable, from mere physical inability, of becoming personally
acquainted with all the parishioners entrusted to their care, or
of carrying on effectually many of the means necessary for
the right organization and spiritual well-being of a parish.


7. And lastly, your Committee could not overlook^ that
closely connected with the important subject, or subjects, on
which they have to report, is the momentous and pressing
one of the extension .of the education of the country, and
along with it, the review of all such institutions of a literary
and scientific nature, as are intended to enlarge the mind,
and increase the intellectual advantages and enjoyments of
the people. And here they felt they were on ground perhaps
as much fraught with difficulties, and exposed to dangers,
as any which the awakened and anxious member of the
Church is called to occupy, in these days of new and press-
ing responsibilities.

II. On all the various points now stated, your Committee
are prepared, in the discharge of the task imposed upon them,
to offer such suggestions and recommendations as, after
mature and serious consideration, appear to them best suited
for the object in view ; whilst in submitting the result of their
labours to the notice of their brethren, they have th© comfort
of reflecting, that what they have thus done, before it can be
productive of any serious consequences^ will have to receive
the approval and sanction of the large and experienced body
of clergy, who form the Euri-decanal Chapter of Leeds.

1. First, then, with regard to a better adaptation of the
Church Services, — your Committee are disposed to think,
that a separation of the Litany or Communion Service from
the Morning Prayer on Sunday Mornings would be a great
relief to many. They do not mean that any portion of the
Church's prescribed service should be omitted, but only that
the period of its taking place may be altered. For instance,
in churches where there were three services on the Sunday,
the Morning Service might consist of the Morning Prayer
with the Litanv or Communion Office ; the Afternoon Service


of the Litany or Communion Office, whichever was omitted
in the morning, or of both, should it be considered desirable
to repeat either of them a second time; and the Evening
Service might consist of the Evening Prayer, and occa-
sionally the Communion Office also. Your Committee do
not believe that by such an arrangement any rule of the
Church would be infringed, whilst by it the extreme length
of the present morning service would be avoided, an after-
noon service peculiarly suitable for children and servants
would be provided, and the occasional administration of the
Lrord's Supper in the after part of the day, would allow many
of the working classes who now are virtually debarred from
that ordinance, to approach the table of the Lord.

Your Committee, however, in making this and other recom-
mendations of a like nature, would distinctly state, that they
are for laying down no rule on the subject, nor for interfering
in any way with the mode of conducting Divine service, when
the clergy and their congregations are indisposed to effect
any change. But it may be well with respect to authorities
to state, that Wheatley is strongly for the separation of the
services which are now used altogether in the morning, and
that Bishop Sparrow is still stronger on the same point; whilst
as regards present sanction, they cannot doubt that the allow-
ance and approval of such a change by our own Diocesan
would carry it with all the support and encouragement that
are required ; and though the change might be opposed at
first, on the mere ground of dislike to any alteration in what
had been long the established usage, yet remembering, as
your Committee well do, the strong resistance that was made
when evening services were first proposed, and seeing the
wonderful results wliich have followed tliat adaptation of the
Church's ministrations to tlie requirements of the age, they
confidently trust, that a great and happy effect would be
produced by this concession also, and that by means of it


many aliens would be brought within the House of Prayer.*

2. Contingent upon this change your Committee conceive
that a service much required might be framed for week-day
evenings. The service here alluded to would consist of the
Litany, with psalm or hymn singing, to be followed by a
portion of Scripture, expounded in a plain and familiar man-
ner ; and in this way, following in the track of some of the
most eminent Fathers of the Church, as well as of others in
later days, the parochial minister might go through a Gospel,
or an Epistle, or a consecutive portion from the Old or New
Testament history, much to the instruction and edification
of many, especially of the working classes, who might be
induced to attend a service so short and so suitable.

3. The subject of open-air preaching is one at present
occupying much attention. Your Committee are aware that
it is open to much objection, on the ground of inconvenience
and irregularity, and that many of the most valuable among
the clergy are not qualified for the work; yet they are of
opinion that, under due regulation, such ministrations might
be attempted with much advantage. Your Committee cannot
but remember the effects produced by the sermons preached
at St. Paul's Cross, which were among the main instruments
for establishing the reformation of religion in this country
three hundred years ago ; and they have a strong conviction
that if men properly qualified were selected for this duty, they
might, with the consent of the incumbent having the cure of
souls, preach in places sufficiently public to call the attention
of the multitude, and yet sufficiently retired to avoid distur-
bance, and thus, by going out into the highways and hedges,
and compelling men to come in, render essential service to
the cause of religion, and extend the l

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Online LibraryChurch of England. Leeds Rural DeaneryWhat are the best means of reclaiming our lost population? : a report presented to the Ruri-decanal Chapter of Leeds (Volume Talbot Collection → online text (page 1 of 3)