Leonard Woolsey Bacon.

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in New York, but from within the State itself, would it
not be likewise well if the Church-building and Sunday
School work within these States should be arranged in
like relations to the National Work ? There has never
been any clash between the Sunday School and Churoh-
bailding movements in New England, on the one hand,
and the Home Mission and Home Evangelization work, on
the other, and it is desirable there never should be ; and
to this end these several courses of evangelical labor,
*hiuh are so palpably parts of the same general irork,
thoftld be included in some comprehensive plan, and
prosecuted not without concert.



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<64 CHUBCH, PARISH, AND BENEVOLENT SOCIETY.

2. Societies for the evangelization of particular classes of
people.

There is reasonable ground for doubt whether Societies
of this class have any proper relation to the work of the
gospel in a Christian State. They ^seem to be founded on
a misapplication of the economical principle of the division
of labor. Given a certain province to be evangelized,
occupied by different classes and professions of people, it
seems to be imagined that the highest economical
advantage requires that one Board should undertake the
conversion of one class of people, another Board of another
class, and so on until the whole community is provided
for. If this policy were carried out, instead of a union
of the churches of any State for carrying forward the
work of the gospel in their several parishes, and thus in
the whole State, we should have one Board and set of
missionaries for converting Romanists, another for
u meliorating" Jews, another for disenchanting Spiritists ;
— one mission to Irish, one to Germans, one to negroes,
one to Yankees, one to sailors, one to tailors, and one to
hatters. The fact is — .the general fact, to which, doubtless,
there are exceptions — that the proper main division of the
work of the gospel, is the geographical division of the
field. In any community, among all its classes, the work
of evangelization is essentially one work, and the means
to be used are the same — the gospel and the church. If
there are large and peculiar classes of population in the
community or the State, they may well be made subjects
of special report to the church, or to the council of
-churches. But to have different sets and systems of
national missions to these different classes, is not only to
commit a grievous waste of resources, but to intersect and



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CHURCH, PARISH, AND BENEVOLENT SOCIETY. 65

discompose any plans of systematic Home Evangelization
which may have been entered on by the churches of any
particular province, or State.

3. Societies Jor the enforcement and propagation of
particular ideas in morals and religion.

In special emergencies, societies of this class have been
mightily effective of useful reforms. Of this a reference to
the list of them gives sufficient evidence. But the same
reference will show that they lack powers of endurance.
They sometimes run for a while, but by and by Satan
hinders them, and the gates of hell prevail, against them.
They cannot be relied on for a long fight with wickedness.
When the emergency is past for which they were
providentially designed, their influence becomes small,
their field of operations small, their legitimate expenses
small, and commonly their men become very small
indeed, and the character of the Society itself tends to
become narrow, querulous and vicious.

The duty of a great enterprise like that of Home
Evangelization towards one-idea Societies, is to use them
when, and while, they are useful, and to avoid entangling
alliances.

4. Publishing Societies.

These institutions have two departments of labor,
entirely distinct in idea, bttt more or less confounded in
practical operation ; — the Manufacturing and Mercantile
department, and the Charitable and Missionary depart-
ment. Some of these uastitutions, as, for instance, the
Sunday School TJnuon and the Boston American Tract
Society, attempt in good faith to keep these two depart-
ments quite separate in administration ; but with very



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66 CHURCH, PARISH, AND BENEVOLENT SOCIETY.

partial success. Nevertheless, the distinction is clear
enough for us to follow in this discussion.

(1.) The relation which the conductors of the Home
Evangelization enterprise bear to publishing Societies
considered as manufacturing and mercantile corporations,
is simply that which they bear to other parties in the
same line of business ; — that of customers for such goods
as we want to buy, and as they can sell us to the best
advantage. It is highly important to churches and
missionary societies as purchasers, that they should not
be exclusively the customers of any one or two parties.
And this, not only for economical reasons, but because
they thus shut themselves up to a comparatively narrow
range of selection, instead of entering the whole market,
and the whole field of Christian literature. By confining
themselves to the issues of u Catholic basis " societies, in
all large operations by means of books, our churches have
needlessly shut themselves out from many of the best books
for popular use — including many books whose only fault
is that they are not silent on important truths assailed
from within the Church.

(2.) In their capacity as missionary institutions, it does
not appear that the Publishing Societies can advantage-
ously aid the work of Home Evangelization.

The missionary operations of the Bible and Tract
Societies are included under two heads :

a. Making grants of money and books for missionary
purposes.

b. Employing agents to sell and distribute books, and
(incidentally to this work) to preach the gospel.

a. Under the first head, the relation of Home
Evangelization in the old States to these Societies may



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CHURCH, PARISH, AND BENEVOLENT SOCIETY. 67

be defined very shortly and decisively. Considering that
the current contributions of the churches of those States
are much more than enough to pay for all that they want
in the way of books, it is neither needful nor desirable
that they should be beholden to these Societies for
gratuities. It is better that from the money by them
contributed, should first be drawn whatever may. be
wanted for home use, and expended for the best books
wherever they can be got cheapest, by no means refusing
to circulate books that vindicate truth that has been
assailed.

As to the question whether the surplus should go to the
publishing societies at all, that is a question " on which
there is a great deal to be said, but it does not immediately
pertain to the subject of this article.

6. Can these Societies help the work of Home
Evangelization through u Colportage " operations?

No : for several reasons.

First, A manufacturing and trading corporation is
constitutionally unfitted for conducting missionary opera-
tions Its eye is not single. It has goods to sell, as well
as souls to save. With the fairest intentions in the
world, its managers cannot help seeing, whenever any-
thing needs to be done, in city or country, in army or
navy, that the only thing to do it with is a bunch of their
cheap and beautiful publications. The wonders which
were formerly wrought by u the printed page" are now
promised through the agency of "the flexible cover."
Each of these corporations claims to be the u old, original
Dr. Jacob Townsend," that its own list of remedies forms
the only panacea, and that all othsrs are counterfeits. Is
a company, pre-committed to such convictions as these,



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68 CHURCH, PARISH, AND BENEVOLENT SOCIETY.

bound to them by its constitution and antecedents and by
grave financial and commercial interests, the best
directory of a system of Christian missions ?

Secondly, If there is to be a band of itinerant
missionaries employed in arty of the older States; they
ought to be directed from within the State, and by the
churches and. pastors of the State, and not by a
u National " committee from outside. A general good-
will and fraternal disposition on the part of the outsiders
is not enough. It will not save them from intersecting
with cross purposes any plans which the allied churches
of the State may attempt to pursue for Home Evangeliza-
tion. The work which these Societies propose to do
through their u colporters," is only a part of the general
work of the gospel which belongs to the churches. It
ought to be included in any comprehensive system of
evangelization.

Thirdly, If we are to have a system of Lay-missionaries
(and a great deal may be said in favor of such a system,
for certain uses,) it is better to have missionaries who
shall circulate Bibles and tracts incidentally to the work
of preaching the gospel, rather than book-agents, salaried
by the ohurches, who shall preach the gospel incidentally
to the work of peddling books.

Fourthly^ The principles of economy enunciated above,
in speaking of a Societies for the evangelization of
particular classes of people," apply in general to all
Societies which propose to employ sets of missionaries to
do a petty or fractional work, instead of doing the whole
work of the gospel. What gain is there, in the case of a
particular town or county, in having one man to traverse
the whole field to circulate Bibles, another to scatter



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CHURCH, PARISH, AND BENEVOLENT SOCIETY. 69

tracts and books, another to found Sunday-Schools and
gather the children into them, and another yet to preach
the gospel, instead of letting the man that preaches the
gospel, hims'elf do these other things, which are properly
part of his work ?

Fifthly, The missionary labors of the Book-concerns, in
fields of Home Evangelization, are not only prosecuted at
an economical disadvantage— they are an actual hindrance
to thorough and earnest parochial labor on the part of the
churches. Every intelligent and diligent pastor or lay-
evangelist reckons the judicious distribution of good books
as among his best helps in the work of the gospel. The
interference of the u colporter," or Bible agent, cripples
him in this arm of his power. Before, he might have
established a tie of gratitude and affection between
himself or the Church, and some neglected family, by the
gift of a Bible or of some other good book. And the good
seed thus planted he might have watched and tended and
watered from time to time. But the Bible agent comes,
hurries from house to house, drops a Bible here and a
Bible there, gathers up a few choice cases of u Alarming
Destitution " for the Annual Eeport, and goes on his way
rejoicing. The Directors in the grand room in Astor Place
read his letters and give devout thanks (it has been
decided to be not unconstitutional for them to give thanks,)
for the good that has been done. They never hear^of the
good that has been hindered. 1

1. Our attention was first attracted to this eril during- a visit to the Syrian
Mission of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. Onr
missionaries were grievously complaining of the mischief wrought by the weU*
intended labors of an agent of the British and Foreign Bible Society. For the
space of a generation they had been laboring to train the people to value the
Bible ; to make sacrifices in order to own it ; to buy it ; to treasure it and keep
*t; in some measure they were succeeding, when the British and Foreign



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70 CHURCH, PARISH, AND BENEVOLENT SOCIETY.

The conclusion, then, to which we come, is that
according to their present modes of working, the Bible
and Tract Societies can render no other service to the
Home Evangelization work than that which is rendered
by publishers of good literature generally. There may be
other methods — we believe that there are — in which a
Society for Promoting the Circulation of Good Books
could accomplish greater and most desirable ends, by
means liable to none of the above mentioned objections. 1

6. Philanthropic Societies. .

The proper relation of the Home Evangelization work
to Societies of this class may best be defined by the
statement of certain general principles.

(1.) The practice of works of mercy is declared by
divine example and command to be the proper accom-
paniment and adjuvant of the preaching of the gospel It

gentleman arrives with a big packing-case of books, which he gives away right
and left, plenis manibus, and writes home to the Bible Society in London of his
Glorious Work. For some months thereafter our missionaries were gathering
in the fruits of his labors, in the shape of highly scriptural wrappers to successive
bars of soap, chops of mutton, and other vendibles from the hucksters of Beirut.

1. The subject, but not the limits, of this article, would justify us in discussing
at length a graver charge against the Bible Society's policy, which we are pre-
pared to substantiate by evidence, but which we have room only to state.

It is this, that the Bible Society, by sedulously discouraging the trade in
Bibles, has driven them out of the ordinary market, and made them purchaseable
only through its own stipendiaries, or those of its auxiliaries. In attempting the
circulation of the Scriptures by sale, it defiantly overrides the Laws of Trade
which are as much God's laws as the law of gravitation is, and affects to
substitute for them its inefficient apparatus of Auxiliaries and agents.

Whatever be the cause, the effect is unquestionable. The Report of the
Connecticut Home Evangelization Committee for 1860, made up from actual
canvass of the State, reports that in the country towns, generally, there are no
Bibles kept for sale. Is this true of any other article of general household use
and demand ? Would it be true of the Bible, if the circulation of it by sale were
entrusted to free trade and not to a monopoly ? And can the Bible Society do a
better service for the circulation of the Word of God, than to a stand out of its
sunshine" and let it * have/ree course and be glorified f "



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CHUBCH, PABI8H, AND BENEVOLENT SOCIETY. 71

is a proof of the presence of the Christ, that u the deaf
hear, the lepers are cleansed, the lame walk, the poor
have the gospel preached unto them." And these good
works ought to he performed, not simply for their
relation to the success of preaching, but for the love of
them, and as accomplishing in themselves an ultimate,
though inferior, good. When we do good to men's
bodies, simply for the sake of reaching their souls, we are
apt to be found out in our device, and thus to lose the
very thing we are aiming at.

(2.) All public arrangements for doing good to the
community, inasmuch as they spring from the prevalence
of the gospel, ought to be outwardly, as they are in fact,
associated with the gospel, that Christ may have the
glory.

(3.) A plan of evangelization, whether for a parish or
a State, ought to comprehend, as far as. may be, arrange-
ments for promoting the bodily welfare of the people.
And it is desirable that the Church and the minister of
the gospel should undertake as much as possible of this
work, leaving as little as possible for the civil authorities
and for merely secular associations.

(4.) But there are certain methods of doing good*which
require larger organizations than churches to conduct
them, and different organizations. Such, for example, are
the establishment of Hospitals and Orphan Asylums, and
the conducting of systems of emigration, as in the case of
the Children's Aid and Colonization Societies. As far as
possible the churches should be patrons rather than
beneficiaries of such institutions ; encouraging them by
making use of their accommodations at a fair price for
what they receive, and assisting them otherwise, as by



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7 2 CHURCH, PABISH, AND BENEVOLENT SOCIETY.

contribution. It would be well if churches and
Evangelization Unions should own the right of presentation
to Hospitals and Orphan Asylums, and if benevolent men
wishing to render service to such institutions, should do
it by purchasing for the Church the privilege of sending*
the poor to them. But the work from house to house — the
friendly and Christian work connected with these
institutions — ought to be performed, as far as possible, by
the Church and Evangelist, in the name of Christ, so as to
leave as little as possible to be done by the philanthropic*
society, in the name of humanity.

We rest the discussion here, having traversed "the
subject, not exhausted it. If we seem in anything to have
spoken curtly and dogmatically, it is because the limits
of space forbade circumlocution and apology, and our
conviction of the truth and importance of many of the
thoughts above set forth, demanded at least the attempt
to express them. If we have seemed radical, will not our
readers at least ask, before condemning, whether the
blame of it ought not to be laid on radical errors in
existing usages and institutions ?



>»»»eo»c cxK » i -



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CONFESSIONS OF A HIGH-CHUROHMAN. 73



IV.



CONFESSIONS OF A HUGH-CHURCHMAN.



Bryan Maurice, or The Seeker. By Rev. Walter
Mitchell. Philadelphia: Lippincott. 12mo.

This is a volume of Episcopalian polemics under the
form of a novel. It makes u the epic plunge" at once in
medias res, with a discussion on the Pentateuch, and
winds up with a wedding, and red fire, and u the solemn
cares of a Missionary Bishopric," with a handsome Gothic
church and parsonage for the back scene. The story ia
entirely subordinate to the theological intent of' the
author, and serves mainly as a setting for his brilliants of
controversial divinity; so that the book takes place in
literature with a class of school-books once in vogue,
such as u Conversations on Chemistry between a Mother
and three Daughters," or "Uncle Peter's Talks upon
English Grammar with his Little Friends," in which it
was conoeived that the driest studies might be capable of
a certain dramatic fascination; or rather with that large

* From the New Bnglander for October, 1867.



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74 CONFESSIONS OF A HIGH-CHURCHMAN.

and still growing class of popular discussions, the latest
representative of which we see advertised under the title
u Dialogues on Ritualism between a Layman and his
Rector," and the advantage of which is that therein the
ill-favored opponent of the writer's pet doctrines can he
made, in spite of himself, to defend sentiments which he
would abhor, with weak arguments which he would
despise, and then be overwhelmed with sudden and quick-
witted rejoinders which the author had dreamed of for a
week, wishing that some one would only say such foolish
things, that he might seize his chance to make such bright
replies. This sort of controversy is conceived to have
many of the advantages of actual tug-of-war, with none
of its perils. The intellectual satisfaction of it to the
writer, if not quite like

" a the joy which warriors feel
In foemen worthy of their steel,' 1

may at least be likened to the martial glory of a sham-
fight at a militia training; or to the excitement of the
combat in a Punch-and-Judy show, when the left-hand
puppet is so horribly banged with that frightful club by
the right-hand puppet, or to the fierce joys of the gaming-
table, as realized by the Marchioness in u The Old
Curiosity Shop," when she played at cribbage over her
orange-peel-and-water in the solitude of Sampson Brass's
back-kitchen, and kept tally for the right hand against
the left.

Of course, then, it would not be fair to criticise u Bryan
Maurice " as a novel. Not but that there are points of
interest about it in this aspect. We regard the adventure
which is the hinge of the story as one of the boldest
strokes of the pen in recent fiction. The two lovers go



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CONFESSIONS OP A HIGH-CHURCHMAN. 75

down on the same plank in the wreck of the Arctic,
paddle' off in different directions under water, and come
up, one in Nantucket and one in Halifax, never to hear of
each other again until they are both whistled up by the
call-boy in time for the wedding-scene in the last act.
There is nothing quite equal to this, we think, either in
Scott or in Bulwer.

And yet it would be equally unreasonable to criticise
the book as an argument. There is a serious, though
unsuccessful, purpose of argument in it; a number of the
old stock defenses of the high-church faction in the
Episcopal Church are neatly stated, and several fair hits,
together with some foul ones, are made at his antagonists ;
but, as a general thing, the writer u fights as one that
beateth the air," when he strikes out against the com-
munion of Christian believers outside of his sect, in
consequence of his ignorance of their relative position and
views.

But "Bryan Maurice" has, nevertheless, a certain
ponderable and mensurable value, of a sort which its
author, perhaps, did not think of in the first rapture of
publication. It is worth something as Confessions. For
the book is, plainly enough, autobiographical. The scenes
of it, described with pre-Raphaelite minuteness, when not
openly named, are recognized, and meant to be recognized,
as the places of the writer's residence ; and at Boston and
Cambridge, at Norowam, which is Stamford, and at the
Cranmer Divinity School, Broadwater, which is the
Berkeley Divinity School, Middletown, Connecticut, the
writer takes the portraits of various acquaintances in
public and in private stations, which he designates by the
most transparent pseudonyms, and hangs out along his



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76 CONFESSIONS OF A HIGH CHUBCHM AN.

pages for the public entertainment, His style of art is
literal rather than imaginative, and his pictures often
depend for recognition rather on strongly marked
peculiarities in the cut of the whiskers or the curl of the
hair, or on the names or official titles written up under
them, than on any lively delineation of character. But the
most marked trait of his style is the constancy with which
his portraits are flattered up towards his highest ideal of
manly and womanly beauty just in proportion as the
sitter coincides with him in his theological position. For
this, as well as for some other reasons, we are inclined to
class his efforts at character-painting among his acquaint-
ances in successive dwelling-places, with the works, not so
much of the painters, and sculptors, as of those humbler
u artists," whose studios trundle upon wheels from
village to village as the exigencies of business demand.
Grood likenesses are promised, and satisfaction guaranteed,
only to those who come within the narrow range and focus*
of his camera. If none but Episcopalians of the right grade
are portrayed to the last hair with a noble distinctness,
— if Congregationalists are blurred into phantoms, and
Unitarians distorted into monsters, is it his fault, quotha, *
that they would stay in their absurd positions, instead
of coming up upon his platform and inserting their heads-
between the prongs of his standard of orthodoxy ?

It is an incidental disadvantage of the author's free-
and-easy method of dealing with the persons of his various
acquaintances, that it necessarily brings his own-
personality strongly into view. If a late student at
Cambridge College and Middletown Theological School,
and convert from Unitarianism to the Episcopal Church,
leads his hero in the character of a Unitarian u seeker "



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CONFE88ION8 OF A HIGH-CHUBCHMAN. 77

of the Episcopalian ministry, through his own old haunts
and experiences, with free comments on his old instructors
and neighbors from the author's point of view, it is all
very well to call him u Bryan Maurice," or Ohilde
Harold, if he choose, but it will be impossible thereby to
avert the universal inference that the book is an Apologia
pro Vita Sua, and that the paragon with the romantic
name and history is a more or less idealized " portrait of
the author."

It is this consideration to which Mr. Mitchell owes his
title to the honor of a special Article in the New Englander.
We would not unduly disparage the value of his opinions
and arguments. But his testimony concerning himself,
the representative of a class, especially when it is given
unconsciously, and most of all when it inclines against
the witness and his sect or set, is of more importance still.
Let us glance, then, at the story of Bryan Maurice.

He is introduced as a recent graduate of Harvard



Online LibraryLeonard Woolsey BaconChurch papers: sundry essays in subjects relating to the church and ... → online text (page 6 of 26)