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bulk of the people, other agencies are required. Now, among the best and most eligible is the employment of an intelligent colporteur, who brings the works themselves to the homes of the people. By this means the person who has been providentially prepared to look favourably on these works, finds at his door the means of making their more intimate acquaintance. And how many, and how varied are the providences which are daily preparing the way of these works! Every event in life is a prelude to some new phase of thought; every incident discloses some new desire. The deep questions relating to the future dispose the mind to read on “Heaven and Hell," and the colporteur offers the work that is required. The general confusion of thought which prevails on theological questions, the contradictions of the pulpit, and the uncertainties of doctrinal opinion, leading not unfrequently to the total neglect of doctrine and the setting forth of a feeble sentimentalism, lead many to desire definite and reliable instruction in Christian doctrine, and opens the way for the disposal of works of a doctrinal
a kind. And then how endless are the inquiries, and how fruitless the result of these inquiries respecting the written Word of God, the nature of its inspiration, and the key of its exposition. “The Church," said the late Archbishop of Canterbury, “ has not defined the inspiration of Holy Scripture.” She gives, therefore, to her sons no definite rule and no reliable guidance for its exposition. "If the Bishops of the Church of
“ England," said the Times newspaper some time ago, "are worth their salt, they will provide an authoritative reply to works like those of Bishop Colenso.” They have provided no such reply, and few people expect them to do so. The public teachers are thus launched on a sea of uncertainty and doubt. Many have lost faith in the Word as a divinely inspired revelation from God. They speak of it as the production of the several writers. They question its truth, criticize in a hostile spirit its statements, and set up the standard of their own feeble and fallible judgments above “the wisdom which descendeth from above." This condition of the public teaching must, in many thoughtful minds, produce a desire for more reliable instruction. The Word is not rejected, it is buried in ignorance, and men who desire the light are eagerly inquiring for some more excellent way. Nothing can satisfy this craving of the spirit but the discovery of the spiritual sense of the Word. No writings can supply this want of the age but those of the New Church ; and no agency is so likely to bring these writings before the minds of thoughtful inquirers as that of an intelligent colporteur.
To look, however, at our subject in a practical point of view, let us
first clearly state what we propose, and next consider the means of its accomplishment.
We propose the engagement, as early as possible, of an intelligent member of the Church as a colporteur for Lancashire; and we hope to so far succeed in the work as to increase the number to more than one. We
e commence, however, with one. His duties will be to distribute tracts chiefly, but not exclusively, by sale; to promote to the utmost of his ability the sale, and encourage the reading, of New Church publications; and, when opportunity offers, to hold cottage meetings for reading, conversation, or preaching. His Sabbath engagements will be as a missionary preacher, Sabbath-school teacher, or in such manner as he himself shall determine. As colporteur, his labours are on the week days, and it would be unjust to exact, as a condition of his employment, his steady labours on the Sabbath.
The employment of a colporteur, however, will involve cost. There will be a small profit made on the books sold, which might be equally divided between the colporteur and the committee. Assuming with this addition, a weekly salary of twenty-five shillings, we should require for a commencement a small capital for the purchase of books, and a reliable income of £65 per annuim.
Three suggestions are offered for the accomplishment of our objectthe establishment of a new institution, the appointment of a mixed committee from the committees of the several existing institutions, or the carrying out of the project by one of our existing institutionsmodifying and adapting it, if necessary, to the object we have in view.
To the first of these proposals, the establishment of a new institution, I feel a very strong objection. We have already a sufficient number of institutions. What we require is an expansion of their uses, and a greater earnestness in their support. Neither am I
prepared to recommend the second course—the appointment of a mixed committee. It would, doubtless, be possible to appoint such a committee from the members of the committees of our public institutions, which have a direct interest in the success of colportage ; but I question its practicability. It would consist of members whose time is already occupied with other committees, and would scarcely secure the attention, or be able to throw into the question the vigour needed for its successful working. I am led, therefore, to the adoption of the third suggestion, and without attempting to balance the claims of our three most suitable institutions, will at once offer my reasons for
recommending that the work be undertaken by the Missionary Institution.
In the first place, it is a missionary work to which we are invited. It is, therefore, in perfect agreement with the purpose of the Missionary Institution, the committee of which has always strengthened its operations by availing itself of the publications of the Tract Society for circulation at the close of missionary lectures. This society seems also at the present time in a favourable position for undertaking the work. Most of the societies it has so long fostered are able to undertake the charge of their own supply, and are now expected to do so. The society, freed from this charge, is at liberty to enter on new plans of usefulness. It needs also some new idea to give it increased life and vigour, and to secure for it the hearty suffrages of a wider constituency.
To secure this end, however, the missionary committee must be enlarged and the institution rendered more popular, and better adapted to the present condition and to the growing wants of the Church. At present the committee is confined to members resident in Manchester and Salford ; and the society itself is chiefly, indeed, almost exclusively, sustained by these two societies. The plan adopted by the Yorkshire Colportage Association seems well adapted to this institution. In their case the members of the committee are selected from the several societies in the district. Every society, therefore, which contributes to the support of the institution is represented on its committee. The feelings and desires that are prevalent are thus known to the committee, and an interest in the institution is kept alive in all parts of the district in which it is located. A committee of this kind cannot, however, hold frequent meetings, nor does it attempt to do so. The general committee meets quarterly, but the chairman and secretary being located in one town are able to confer readily with each other, and are empowered to act promptly on any emergency, or, if needful, to call an extraordinary meeting of the general committee. Something of this kind might be, and, I think, ought to be adopted, if we are to secure the hearty co-operation of all our societies in the extended support of our missionary institution. Manchester is admirably situated as a centre.
It has in it all we could possibly require as the nucleus of the committee; and its members ought to receive with no jealousy a proposal to widen its base and extend its influence in the country.
There is an undeveloped power in the New Church in Lancashire, which requires to be organized and concentrated on some useful work. Our societies do a good work in our day and Sunday-schools and in
other works of Christian usefulness, but they are isolated and act only as individual units. They have scarcely any connection with each other, and have not yet learned to combine their energies in any public undertaking in which all are interested. The present proposal is one the usefulness of which will be generally admitted. Can all be brought to join in the effort to establish it ? On the answer to this question depends our failure or our success.
Review. TRANSITION : OR, THE PASSING AWAY OF AGES OR DISPENSATIONS,
MODES OF BIBLICAL INTERPRETATIONS, AND CHURCHES ; being an Illustration of the Doctrine of Development. By the Rev. AUGUSTUS CLISSOLD, M.A. London : Longmans, Green & Co. 1868.
In a recent Work on the Atonement written professedly on the principle of development, as understood by the author, the following statement occurs, in a introductory Essay on Theological developments :
“It can hardly be doubted, that one of the most important theological questions of the day, on which many of our detailed controversies will be found to hinge, and into which they must be ultimately resolved, is that of developments in Christian belief. From failing to recognize this great law of revealed as of scientific truth, thousands are prejudiced against dogmatic Christianity altogether, while others hold it with but a feeble and uncertain grasp. Nor can we look with any confidence for the return to unity of separated religious bodies, while some rigidly adhere to the principle of a lifeless and unfruitful tradition, and others insist on an exclusive appeal to the bare letter of Scripture."*
The above presents one of many distinct indications of a certain general movement of the theological waters, which for some years past has been going on amongst the most enlightened Roman Catholic theologians. It is, in its way, a development, and doubtless is fraught with consequences in the future more numerous and graver than is generally supposed. It is the sign of an earnest striving after intellec
* Vide The Catholic Doctrine of the Atonement, by H. N. Oxenham, M. A., 2nd edit., p. 1.
tual things, and as such is a ground of encouragement and hope for the future of theology.
It is important, however, to bear in mind that between the doctrine of development advocated by the author of Transition, and that assumed by some modern Roman Catholic writers, there is an essential difference. With the former, to use language well known to readers of Swedenborg's writings, the development is discrete ; with the latter the development, if indeed it be such, is continuous. It is almost needless to add that the views set forth in Transition have nothing in common with the barren and nearly obsolete speculations of the Schoolmen, or with the “bare literal sense ” criticism which
be said to owe its origin to the turmoil and struggle of the Reformation period, and which, continued to our own day, has resulted, in numerous instances, in the total denial of a spiritual revelation. Development, in such works as that just referred to, is alleged to take place by means of the “ consciousness of the Church, illumined by the abiding presence of the Divine Comforter ;” and with the author of Transition it is the genuine spiritual interpretation of the revealed Word of God which alone constitutes the source, and determines the limits of all genuine development of Christian belief.
The clear understanding of this preliminary point is indispensably necessary to any rational, adequate, and profitable investigation of this momentous subject. The difficulty, moreover, referred to in our previous paper still recurs, and requires solution in the first place, Does the Word exist from the Church, or the Church from the Word? This question is fundamental in every thoroughgoing discussion of the doctrine of development. It is worth notice that in their reply to this question there appears to be a substantial agreement between the partizans of “free thought” and the devotees of “ Church authority.” “If now,” (says the Jesuit Bozius,) “that be true which St. Paul asserts, “knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth,' then is charity not in written books, but in human hearts."
“Moreover, faith cometh not from reading, but from hearing; as the same Apostle testifies. Therefore, whether we regard faith, without which it is impossible to please God; or charity, which is the first of the virtues ; we must not have recourse to books, but to the Church and its members ” (Vide Transition, &c., pp. 150, 151). The estimate of the Divine Word, according to the mind of Dr. Colenso, is given in the following terms “Our belief in the Living God would remain
: as sure as ever, though not the Pentateuch only, but the whole Bible