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by increased government grants according to the necessities of the case, to provide the school accommodation required, it might be competent for the Council Board, any district remaining unprovided, to send down an inspector, and upon his report to erect schools, the cost, to a certain extent, to be defrayed by a district rate, but the management to devolve upon the Council. No long period need elapse, without taking an over sanguine view, before the school provision would be adequate. With such a gentle compulsory measure as we have named, and the effectual working of the Reformatory and Industrial Schools Acts, we should then be able to congratulate the country upon the possession of a system by which all the young would be cared for. There would be no very violent and sudden radical change, and our distinctive religious teaching would be preserved, and voluntary efforts correspondingly increased.
For the satisfactory working and complete success of such a system, a liberal conscience clause would be required. Speaking at the Manchester Education Conference, Dr. Howson, the Dean of Chester, stated that "it seemed to him most desirable that the clergy should be ready to accept a conscience clause, if only fairly and reasonably worded, and if a similar conscience clause was applied to schools connected with all other religious communities. His belief was, that the acceptance and generous working of a conscience clause would be very good policy on the part of the Church of England. The day was gone by when the Church of England could expect to live by mere prestige." "This conviction was strengthened," the Dean observed, "by his seventeen years' experience in the Liverpool College, where no difficulty ever arose in the working of a conscience clause, though, in the upper school, the proportion of Nonconformists was 20 per cent., in the middle 30, and in the lower as much as 40 per cent., in round numbers." That there will be no settlement of the question without a conscience clause, may be gathered from the fact that a conscience clause occupies a prominent position in every scheme recently broached, by whatever party and to whatsoever government belonging. Ultimately it will be enforced, but at present the graceful concession would greatly strengthen the clergy. Its concession would purchase corresponding privileges, and the political dissenter would be deprived of his most specious cry of religious intolerance. Practically the influence of the clergyman for good would in no way be diminished, because, when conceded, a conscience clause is very rarely exercised, its existence being regarded as a sufficient safeguard. With its concession we should retain the children we already possess, and receive seven-tenths, at a moderate computation, of those .who will be the subjects of compulsion.
If the readers of this Article are prepared to take the same view of the features of the Education question as that taken by the writer, they will agree with him that it is most important for the best interests of the country, of our own Church, and above all of Scriptural Christianity, that the clergy and laity, putting on one side their own personal local interests, should combine in a vigorous effort to cover the remaining ground and to make the existing system more effective.
In such an effort, the following would seem to be the points to be kept in mind :—
1st. The creation of a fund for aiding the erection and enlargement of school-rooms in districts insufficiently provided— plain commodious rooms, not expensive ornamental buildings —the cost of which experience proves can be reduced to a much lower outlay than some architects may be generally willing to admit.
2nd. An endeavour to procure a relaxation of the Committee of Council's regulations in favour of more liberal grants in aid of school erection; and again, without interfering with the payment for results, to obtain a more liberal scale of payment for attendance—such payment being at a higher scale for the first fifty children, so as to make it worth while for all schools, even the smallest, to associate themselves with the Council, and so receive the visit of the inspector.
3rd. A demand for some simple comprehensive Act for gentle compulsion.
4th. The expression of a general willingness to consent to a liberal conscience clause. Were some such programme adopted by the clergy and laity of our Church, and vigorously worked, it would be found that the Church was still strong enough to carry it. By such a movement, the cause of Education would be advanced, the hands of the Church herself strengthened, and much political and religious hostility disarmed. The establishment would be found to be, indeed, a nursing mother to many who, a few years hence, would be in the hour of her need, it may be, her loving sons and loyal supporters. It is not pleasant, on the other hand, to anticipate the postponement of the question, because it is to be feared, from the light thrown on "Church and State" by recent events, that the Church would only be able to deal with Education as one of the sects; and then a national scheme, with secular Education and compulsory rating, would doubtless be the system into which we should drift. In the matter of Secular Education, the experience of America ought not to be lost upon the mother country. Deplorable as may be the depravity of our own nation, it can be proved that, for crime, immorality, juvenile delinquency, and rowdyism, America bears away the unenviable palm. An absence of Education, such as it is, cannot be assigned as the main cause, for it is absolutely free to all and each. In reading and writing they greatly excel, whilst every child can read the daily papers, of which there is no stint, and many even of our University dons would be startled by the number of subjects which an American "Miss" sends up for examination. Of Secular Education America has an abundance; but of religious teaching there is a dearth. "In religious instruction, in the sense which we in England attach to the words, it cannot be said that any provision at all is made. Anything like doctrinal or dogmatic teaching, anything of the nature of a creed, or which requires children to utter the phrase, 'I believe,' is implicitly forbidden in all the schools; in some states it is forbidden in words." Mr. Fraser, whose is the testimony I quote, has very well, from personal observation, brought out the character of a school in which there is an absence of the religious element in the teaching :—
"The tone of an American school, that ncscio quid, so hard to be described, but so easily recognized by the experienced eye, so soon felt by the quick perceptions of the heart, if not unsatisfactory, is yet incomplete. It is true that the work of the day commences with the reading of the Word of God, generally followed by prayer. It is true that decorous, if not reverent, attention is paid during both these exercises; but the decorum struck me as rather a result or a part of discipline, than as a result of spiritual impressions; there was no face as it had been the face of an angel-—no appearance of kindled hearts. The intellectual tone of the schools is high; the moral tone, though perhaps a little too self-conscious, is not unhealthy; but another tone which can only be vaguely described in words, but of which one feels oneself in the presence when it is really there, and which, for want of a better name, I must call the religious tone, one misses, and misses with regret. A religious poet has painted in exquisite language his idea of a Christian school as it passes before a watchful pastor's scan:—
'Tis not the eye of keenest blaze,
These do not please him best;
And timid glances shy,
To sue all wistfully,
Yet fearing to be wrong—
A lamb-like, Christ-like throng.'" (p. 13.)
Even in America we learn that many are beginning to think that the seeds of morality can only be germinated under the influences of the sun of gospel righteousness, without which even a Socrates can only produce an Alcibiades. When America is becoming convinced of the comparative futility of mere Secular Education to produce those qualities which most enrich a nation, it would ill become us to think of casting adrift our Scriptural Education, and adopting a secular, or, as some would call it, a godless system. With the adoption of a system of Compulsory Rating, all direct influence on the part of the clergyman would be lost. Rates so administered would involve committees of management for the schools not constituted as now, but it might be the local board of guardians, or other persons whose views would not be in harmony with the conduct of schools as now managed. As regards the religious influence of the clergy over the national schools, no greater evil could arise than the adoption of Compulsory Rating.
Two dangers cause misgivings to those who might otherwise view without anxiety the attacks of the enemy from without. On the one hand, Congregationalism is becoming the bane of our corporate Church vitality. There is but little union in that common work which would tend much to the general health and successful growth of our Church. Had it not been for this increase of Congregationalism, every clergyman for his congregation, and every congregation for itself, Ritualism had been nipped in the bud. Many—nay, most—of the members of the Establishment were indifferent that the mischief was in the Church, provided it were not in their own parish. The general expression of authoritative opinion and common interest brought to bear on the plague spots, at first few and far between, would have been sufficient to stamp them out. Such union, even now, would, by God's blessing, be most successful in stemming the torrent which threatens us, and accomplishing the great work which lies before us. Again, it is our misfortune, as a National Church, to delay when we ought to act. Had the Irish Church* reformed herself, instead of lingering, as was the case, she would not now be in the throes of dissolution. She postponed until reform came too late. Surely it ill becomes the position of a National Church to be compelled at last ungraciously to accept any hostile measure which may be thrust upon her, instead of, true to her position, inaugurating such measures as might be desirable.
A great statesman was once asked what was the greatest thought that ever occupied his mind. "My accountability to God," was the suggestive solemn reply. Such an answer ought not to be less fitting in the mouth of a minister of Christ than from the lips of a worldly politician. There would be no fear for the great question of Education, if only as individual Christians, and unitedly as an Established Church, the clergy remembered their accountability to Him "whose will it is not that one of these little ones should perish.". Tn W B
LIFE AND WRITINGS OF CESAR MALAN.
Life, Labours, and Writings of Ccesar Malan, Minister of the Gospel in the Church of Geneva, Doctor of Divinity, and Pastor of L'Eglise du Temoignage. By one of his Sons. London: Nisbet and Co., Berners Street. 1869.
The beginning of the sixteenth century was the memorable time when, breaking loose from the gloomy prison in which it had been so long immured, the truth as it is in Jesus came forth into the light and resumed its ministrations of mercy amongst the children of men. It would be erroneous to designate that period as the time of its resurrection, for that would imply that it had been dead, and revealed truth never dies. It was not dead in the pre-Reformation times. There were stirrings enough in individuals, and in isolated bodies of men, such as the Lollards of England and the Vaudois of Piedmont, which more than sufficed to show that truth was not dead. But it was closely watched by its oppressors, and whenever it ventured to show itself, it was hunted and driven back into seclusion.
The time, however, was now come when God determined that it should be no longer under restraint; that the barriers should be broken, and it should be freed. By His divine power, He moved the hearts of men to feel their need of truth, and enquire after it as that which could no longer be dispensed with. Questions of primary importance began to be intensely agitated—" What is true Christianity?" "Does the Church teach it as God gave it, and as man requires it?" Men in general had long been contented abjectly to receive what the Church imposed; but now they began to question, and that increasingly, as through the art of printing access to the Bible was facilitated.
That they should begin to question, is not surprising. Ample opportunity had been afforded to the Romish system to verify its assumptions, and prove its efficacy. To its requirements men had implicitly submitted themselves; the result was unsatisfactory; they were nothing bettered, but rather grew worse. They wanted help, but the Christianity which Rome taught did not help them. At the present time it is otherwise; numbers do not want to be helped, and the pure Christianity which would help them they put away from them. In the beginning of the sixteenth century numbers longed to emerge out of darkness; but now, in this latter half of the nineteenth century, numbers desire to escape from the light.
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