Abbildungen der Seite

Church of England to be the true religion ; and therefore, though we freely acknowledge the right of every man to hold his own opinion unmolested, yet we will, as legislators, extend to the people the means of instruction in that form of doctrine which we conscientiously believe to be the true form of the Apostolic Church".

I Most of the observations which apply to a Churchman, as a member of Parliament, apply to him also as an elector. The good of the Church is the one main point on which his politics turn,-which decides his vote, and carries with it all his exertion. His belief is, that on the extension of Church prin: ciples depends the whole complexion of the nation's destiny. With him, as with the legislator, the summary of his political creed is, “ make the people good Christian Churchmen, and you make them happy and prosperous.

The following, if it were acted on, is sound and statesman


" In these days the labours of the politician ought to be employed in matters connected with the Church-in considering the best means of extending its parochial ministrations throughout the country.

“ There is no object which deserves so grave a consideration on the part of the people, as well as on the part of those in authority in Church and State, as the measures necessary for diffusion throughout the length and breadth of this land, of the knowledge of the Gospel of the Saviour-the knowledge of the truths of religion, as the sure and certain basis—as the best foundation on which a statesman can rest for the real happiness and sound morality of the people over whom he may be set."-Extract from a Speech by Lord Stanley, on laying the first stone of a Church, at Ashton in Macclesfield.





“ And so on us, at whiles, it falls to claim

Chief powers we fear, or dare some forward part;
Nor must we shrink as cravens from the blame
Of pride, in common eyes, or purpose deep :
But with pure thoughts look up to God, and keep
Our secret in our heart.”


The result of the general election was a decided expression of feeling in favour of the Church, and the addition of a considerable numerical force to its supporters in the House of Commons. Before the meeting of Parliament many consultations were held amongst the Church party. Sir Arthur Ridley was grieved, though not surprised, to find that great difference of



opinion existed, even amongst those who were warm friends of the Church. Some insisted strenuously on the revival of convocations; some on the application of cathedral property to parochial purposes; others were strongly opposed to both these measures. With the advice of his friend the Archdeacon, Ridley represented to his associates the absolute necessity of acting cordially together. Disunited they would be as powerless as they had been hitherto; but, if they exerted their strength in one compact body, they could either force the ministers to accede to their terms, or else oblige them to give place to others, who would take more interest in the affairs of religion. Without adverting to points on which there might be difference of opinion amongst Churchmen, there was one great measure, on which he was sure that all would cordially unite,—and that was the necessity of Church extension; the duty of making a grand effort, now that their power seemed adequate to the task, to re-establish the Church on a footing commensurate with the wants of the nation. Sir Arthur Ridley's suggestion met with very general approval; it afforded a ground on which all Churchmen might stand, without compromising their own peculiar opinions; and, when the scheme was duly canvassed, a great zeal was kindled in its favour. It was agreed that notice should be given, on the first day of the meeting of Parliament, of a specific motion on the subject; and Sir Arthur Ridley, as being unshackled by any party, and having manifested much earnestness and ability on the occasion, was fixed on as the fittest person to bring the motion forward. He would gladly have declined so prominent a part, on his first entrance into Parliament; but, being much pressed, and the measure having been adopted at his suggestion, he felt that he could not refuse to introduce a motion which was so entirely congenial with his sentiments.

The motion was accordingly announced, and caused great sensation; the House was unusually full when it came on. It was a trial of strength on a new question,-a question which had been hitherto avoided by both parties, from an uncertainty as to their relative position; and it was entirely unknown what line the government would take.

Ridley was well aware of the ordeal which he had to go through, in bringing forward a motion which would, of course, be unpalatable to a numerous party, and that the noisiest and most

unscrupulous in the House. Yet he was not at all troubled with misgivings on his own account. He felt-as we may suppose David felt when he went out to fight with the Philistine-armed with a religious enthusiasm, and confident in the justice of his cause. He determined, if possible, to avoid using any expressions which might provoke personal hostility; but, if his religious opinions were subjected to scorn, he felt that he had that within him which would bear him through triumphantly.

There was a marked attention, mingled with curiosity, when he rose to address the House. Report had already spoken highly of his powers; and the calm, yet quick expression of his eye, the simple, yet commanding manner of his address, bid fair to confirm the most favourable impressions. The following is the substance of his speech :

6 The motion (said he) which I have the honour of submitting to the House, is comprised in the following resolutions.

“ 1st. That it is the bounden duty of the legislature to afford the means of religious instruction and pastoral superintendence to every British subject.

“ 2d. That this House pledges itself to take

« ZurückWeiter »