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The Venerable the Archdeacon of Manchester, Chairman.
Rev. Canon Richson.
Rev. Canon Anson.
Rev. Canon E. Birch.
Rev. Canon H. M. Birch.
Rev. Canon Hornby.
Rev. Canon M'Grath.
Rev. Canon Stowell.
Rev. J. Pelham Pitcairn.
Mr. Alderman Bennett.
Hugh Birley, Esq.
John Burder, Esq.
Murray Gladstone, Esq.
Robert Gladstone, Esq.
Edward Hardcastle, Esq.
Robert Sowler, Esq., Q.C.
ALFRED NEILD, ESQ.
Honorary Clerical Secretaries.
REV. CANON DURNFORD.
REV. WILLIAM DOYLE.
REV. H. H. WESTMORE.
Honorary Lay Secretaries.
H. CHARLEWOOD, Esq.
MR. JOHN DUFFIELD.
N presenting the Report of the proceedings of the Church Congress for 1863, the Committee thankfully acknowledge the great success which has attended what was confessedly an experiment.
The two former meetings were held at Cambridge and Oxford, in the bosom of the ancient universities of the land, where Churchmen might assemble in full security. For while it was certain that the numbers of the clergy would largely preponderate, it was almost equally certain that the laymen who might attend would be for the most part either members of the universities, or under the influence of their authority and traditions. But it was a bold step to pass from Oxford to Manchester, from the seat of learning to the centre of commerce, from those quiet resting places to a region of business and action, from the halls of the university to other halls where the doctrine of free trade is extended even to matters of religion.
The ground, however, had been tried. The Manchester Church Defence Association, from their knowledge of the public feeling, did not hesitate to invite the Congress to meet in Manchester,* and the Congress, with one voice, accepted the invitation. This confidence was not misplaced. The people of Manchester felt that their city was honoured by this preference, and they made preparations to receive the Congress worthily.
The Bishop of the Diocese cordially accepted the office of President.
An Executive Committee of clergy and laity was formed, and their proceedings were, from time to time, submitted to a general committee, consisting of the principal clergy and laity of the diocese.
The Executive Committee were materially assisted by the experience and advice of the Oxford secretaries, and, it will be observed, that the plan pursued at Manchester differed little from that at Oxford. Invitations were sent to those whose local claims seemed to qualify them for vice-presidents, and to some others not of the diocese, eminent for rank and services to the Church. The clergy, meeting under their several rural deans, were requested
* See particulars in Appendix.
to send in subjects for discussion. Many were suggested in this way, and more from other quarters. The selection of subjects and of writers was entrusted to a Sub-Committee, whose acts were confirmed by the President and the Executive Committee. In each case speakers were secured beforehand, to begin and support the debate on the conclusion of the paper.
The choice of subjects was not without difficulty. For, on the one hand, the Committee were desirous to bring forward new and untouched matter; on the other hand, it was impossible to pass over those questions of pressing and perpetual interest which had been already treated in the two preceding meetings. Manchester is the last place where a Church Congress could refuse to consider how the Church can best adapt herself to the necessities of the times; how, without lowering the standard of qualification, the number of the clergy may be increased and their ministrations extended, how churches may be built, and, when built, filled and maintained, how the affections of the people may be stirred up and drawn to the religion of their fathers. These are questions weighing on the heart and conscience of every thoughtful Churchman, epecially in the manufacturing districts; and had they been neglected, the Congress might justly have been condemned as dreamy and visionary-ignorant of its real work, and unequal to its
The Committee are enabled to present essays and speeches upon these great questions, nowise inferior to those published in the two former Reports.
The Committee were compelled by pressure of business to relegate to the sections some questions, as that of "Free and Open Churches," "The Offertory," and others of no less importance, which, in the opinion of many, ought rather to have been considered in the larger assembly. But these subjects had already occupied the attention of the Congress; the principles on either side had been established, arguments for and against had been fully heard, and it was thought that truth might be best elicited by that stricter examination of details, for which sectional discussion is more peculiarly fitted. Indeed it must be confessed that the vast arca of the Free-Trade Hall, though very favourable to oratorical display, is not equally adapted for calm deliberation. Perhaps, on examination of the report, it may be found that not the least valuable statements of facts, and not the least instructive and convincing arguments were addressed to the more limited audience.
The Committee, however, did not confine discussion to subjects already treated by the Congress. Among the new subjects introduced were "The Law of the Colonial Church," "The Progress
of the Church in Ireland," "The Growth of the Church in Lancashire," "The Tithe Redemption Trust," &c. &c.
Some objection has been made to the consideration of Irish questions in an English Congress. But the Committee took a wider view. They could not regard the Church of England as existing only within the twenty-seven dioceses of England and Wales. The Congress, both at Cambridge and Oxford, had devoted much time, and doubtless much sympathy, to the affairs of the Colonial Church: surely the Church in Ireland has an equal claim to be heard, and her interests, to say the least, are no less important. The Committee asked themselves, Are Churchmen in England well informed as to the condition, the activity, and the prospects of the Church in Ireland? If not, is it right that they should remain in ignorance? Can the Congress be more legitimately employed than in hearing from trustworthy reporters, from eye witnesses, from men above all suspicion of party interest, what is doing not in India or Africa, but within a few hours sail of our own shores by a Church, now, whether for good or evil, united inseparably to our own. The Committee are confident that in this matter the published report will be a full justification of their proceedings.
In consequence of the admission of the public to the galleries of the hall at a low rate of payment, the evening meetings were of a more mixed character. The Papers read were of greater length, and might rather be called lectures. There was little opportunity for discussion.
Three subjects, Church Architecture, Church Music, and Church Schools, were chosen as most likely to attract and interest, as well as to instruct the great body of the middle classes who at that time only could be present. Important theories were presented and illustrated in a popular form: a great impulse was given to improvement, and no less encouragement to those who are engaged in combating false taste and false principles.
The Committee, however, felt that the question of Church Schools well deserved fuller consideration, and they trust that it may be brought forward and more completely examined in the Congress of 1864.
It remains only to say that the Report is as correct as it could be made. The Committee desired to place on record, with the greatest attainable accuracy, the words of each writer and speaker, so far as the space at their command allowed. Papers which were cut short for want of time are published in extenso. One characteristic of the Congress was its perfect honesty. There was no attempt to disguise the failings or shortcomings of the Church. Christian men spoke out with Christian openness, though, as it
might seem, to their own hindrance. The Committee follow the spirit of the Congress in presenting a faithful transcript of its proceedings.
Much of the success of the Manchester meeting is owing to the generous co-operation of eminent persons who, at the call of the Committee, freely imparted the results of their thought, wisdom, and experience, for the benefit of their brethren; much to the patience and judgment of the Right Rev. President; much to the kindly spirit of the inhabitants, opening their doors with large hospitality; but still more to that yearning for union which drew together, with secret influence, men of all classes and of every shade of opinion that the liberality of the Church of England comprehends. It is true that many invitations were issued in vain, and some not even acknowledged. Many high in Church and State still hold back, as though fearing to commit themselves to a new and, as they may deem, a questionable movement. But this year as before, our benches were graced by prelates and statesmen, who have rejoiced to cast in their lot with their brethren. The Colonial Bishops, men accustomed to popular contact, who know that the real strength of the Church lies in the hearty union of all its members, have, from the beginning, identified themselves with the Congress, and on this occasion they did not fail. The Committee believe that, with God's blessing, the present meeting of Congress will conciliate increased support, and will secure yet more general confidence in its objects, conduct, and character. The actual meeting of Convocation silenced the calumny that the clergy could not meet even for consultation without risk of unseemly and unchristian contention. These meetings of Congress have proved something more, that clergy and laity may join in discussing matters of the deepest religious moment, if not with perfect agreement on all points, yet with forbearance and charity, and with an increase of mutual harmony, respect, and affection. The enemies of the Church have unconsciously worked a work which her friends have long laboured for in vain. Common dangers have cemented union between Churchmen, whose points of agreement are so much more numerous than their points of difference, that they ought never to have been estranged.
During the preparations for the meeting at Manchester, the Committee felt that the total absence of fixed rules for the conduct of the Congress threw upon them a very undesirable amount of responsibility. It is their opinion (an opinion expressed by more than one speaker, and received with general favour) that, like the British Association and other bodies of an itinerant and deliberative character, Church Congress ought to be governed by written laws, and that a standing committee is necessary to carry