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THE LIBERATIO NISTS AND THE…

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THE LIBERATIO NISTS AND THE CHURClt. THE observations made at the triennial con- ference of the Liberation Society by Mr BRIGHT on the cotnluot of the bishops in the House of Lords have not passed un- noticed. Mr BRIGHT'S contention is thai the bishops have never exerted what might be called a Christian influence on the House of Lords, that they have never as a body protested against unjust or cruel laws, but have rather supported tllem, that when they might have spoken out against harsh and unnecessary measures they were either si lent or they voted with the party of oppression and wrong. This may be said to have formed Mr BRIGHT S indict- ment against the Episcopal Bench, and it must, we think, be admitted that he estab- lished his case. He took his hearers a long way back in order to make it clear that this has always been the case. Of modern illus- trations many could very easily be supplied, were it at all desirable. But the TiLles has its answer to this re- proach. In reply to Mr BRIGHT'S at- tack upon the bishops, it makes a statement which we are not inclined to dispute, but which it is very easy to misinterpret. Facts are hard nuts to crack, but it is not to be forgotten that while we cannot repeal or abolish or disprove a fact, we may very easily misinterpret it. The rising and falling of the mercury iu a thermometer accompany the rising and failing of the surrounding temperature, Lut it does not follow th;it, as one old woman thought, these fluctuations of the mercury cause the changes in the temperature. So is it in the case of the House of Lords. Tim Times i3 quite right when it represents the open or apparent agitation against the political power given in and by our constitution to the bishops of the Estab- lished Church as somewhat lessened. We do not hear a great deal said about it but why? For no reason in the world but that the leaders of the Liberation party have mad.) up their minds that the time is not far dis- tant when the Church must be separated from the State, and that all their energies ought to be directed towards the one grand achievement which will involve all the rest. "So far as can be "judged from observation of the movements of public opinion," says the Times, "the "Church of England occupies a stronger "position at this moment than she did a few years ago." In some respects this is true, and we rejoice to think that it is. It proves very clearly that the advocates of disestab- lishment do not hate the Church its a Church. I It proves that those men who go about de- crying the Liberationists fls enemies of the Church by law established are quite mistaken. All that they object to is the Establishment, not the Chllrch, Here, however, we must take care not to be mis-apprehended. We I do not mean to say that there is nothing in the teaching, in the cteed, or in the ritual of the Church to which outsiders have no objection. There will always be differences of opinion on such questions, just as there are differences of opinion amongst the vari- ous dissenting communities. A Baptist and a Pai lobaptist do not agree on all points, thought they may co-operate, and they gene- rally do co-operate in all gooj work in the most cordial and brotherly spirit possible. In like manner the more Churchmen and Nonconformists are brought together in [ eocul movements for the benefit of the people among whom they live, the more freely do they recognise the importance of the work which each one is doing, and the more willingly do they give one another credit for sincerity, self-sacrifice, and devo- tion. But we arc not at all surprised at the blunder into which the Times has fallen. Nothing could be more natural, considering the motives which that journal, in common with many others, has always gratuitously assigned to the Liberationists. They always insist upon it that Dissenters hate the Church of England as a Church, that the Dissenting minister lives in perpetual envy of the neighbouring rector or vicar of the parish, and that nothing would be more delightful to a Nonconformist than to see all the cathedrals and parish churches through- out the country swept away by some singular catastrophe which would involve them alone in ruin while the ark of Non- conformity floated securely 011 the deep. In vain have Liberationists protested that this is a false and a malicious view to take of their attitude towards the Church. The charge has been repeated with the same brazen effrontery from day to day in spite of all protests. But if the agitation against the Church has diminished of late years, is there no reason for it more probable than that the antagonism to the establishment is dying out? The Times itself suggests one without appearing to be quite conscious that it has done so. It refers to the Church being now foremost" in every good work, her clergy setting an example of patient and self-denying labour among the poor of our great towns, and so on. The only slip mitted by the Times-and it is rather an im- portant one—is its oversight of the fact that, in so doing, the clergy are -not setting but are rather following an example. In many places they have begun to Labour with the zeal and self-sacrifice without which Noncon- formity could never have existed. But there arc other highly important facts to be taken into account. Some of the more im- portant outworks of the establishment—not the Church—which the Liberationists have for many years been storming have been taken. As long as these were held in the exclusive possession of the Church, occasions for outbursts of passion, indignation, and other strong manifestations of a sense of being wronged were very frequent. When a rich Nonconformist found Oxford and Cambridge closed against o \) his son, or when a rising mer- chant or tradesman found ahimself barred from municipal honours, because he could not submit to the ecclesiastical test required by the Church, feelings and passions must often have been strongly exasperated. Or more recently, when a Nonconformist could not have his own minister or his own ritual in the churchyard of the parish in which he and his ancestors had lived for generations, but had to bow at every turn to the Church which lie did not wish to have thrust upon him, or to have a stranger intruding upon sorrows which even a bosom friend could hardly understand, irritation must often have been excited. Now many of these grievances have been removed, and consequently much of the irritation and soreness has disappeared. But what has all this to do with disestablishment ? Nothing at all. These, as we have stated, are out- works wrested by the Liberationists from the Establishment. They are the earnest of that complete victory which all Noncon- formists are confidently awaiting, and on which every intelligent Churchman reckons as one of the certainties of the future. But, unfortunately, the feeling of exasperation is not yet gone. There are still, especially in some rural districts, many domineering clergymen, of whom Printing-house-square knows nothing. fts observation on matters Anglican is con fined to the metropolis. Its telephones communicate only with the clubs. A little more knowledge of provincial experience would make the comments of the Times more serviceable to those who wish to know what England is and does. If all the clergy resembled the Principal of tho Carnarvon Training College, who refused to admit a candidate because he did not belong to the "Church of CHRIST," but only to the "Congregational Society," there would be no lack of defiance and bitterness. Hap- pily, the rev. gentleman referred to is an exception. For the same reason many Non- conformists visited the cathedral at LlandafF to witness the enthronement of the new bishop. Many, no doubt, were prompted by mere curiosity, but others went from a feeling of friendliness which must not, how- ever, be mistaken for approval of the Estab- lishment. We hope this friendly feeling will continue, but we fear it will be considerably undermined if the Anglican olergy of Cardiffand Newport are determined on forming an alliance with Roman Catholic priests to crush the aspirations of the people after an education equal to that for which the country generally is now loudly crying out. When Nonconformists hear clergymen of the Church of England pleading hard for the poor ratepayer they know very well what it all mear"

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