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THE CHURCH AND REFORM. IF the report just issued by the Standing Committee of the bt. Asaph Diocesan Con- ference is to be regarded in a serious light, there is but the minimum amount of praise to be bestowed upon the united intellects of the group of men who drew it up. It is a remarkable manifesto in many ways, and if the Committeemen had made the acquiring of ignorance and bigotry the study of a life- time, they could not have graduated with lligher honours. The Committee jubilantly refer to the Suspensory Bill as being practi- cally defunct, but remark that it is well to remember that although the Parish Coun- ,etls Bill might be thought excellent, so far as its provisions affected the Church, it was distinctly a measure in the direction of dis- establishment and disendowment, as it cut away at least one link which for centuries had bound the State and the Church to- other. The tenour of these remarks un- mistakeably show how tenaciously she ,elijugs to the oppressive power which she un- fairly possesses. No matter whether the principle of her power is right, or as to the righteous manner in which it came into her grasp, she intends to fight for priest autho- rity with one hand, while with the other she greedily reaches out for more. This bitter opposition to the Parish Councils Bill only serves to illustrate how much the Church dreads the slightest lay interference with her supposed rights. The only means by which the Bill can sever the link between Church and State is that it provides for parish councils to deal in a certain degree with charities, to fix any place for holding the vestry meeting, and has the option of electing any man chairman. There is no pereon but a blind partisan who would deny that in each instance the proposed alterations are sadly needed. Charities left for the benefit of the poor of the parish have been in .innumerable cases dispensed by the 40hurch parson in such a way as amounted to a bribe to attend Church, while rate- payers have been powerless to interfere. With regard to the place and time of parish meeting, this innovation is one of the ctcong points of the Bill. The labourer has just ground of complaint at the hour at which the usual vestry meeting takes place. Unlike the parson and squire, he is dependent for bread on his daily toil, and consequently cannot afford to lose a half-day's wage to attend the parish meeting. He knows nothing whatever about the system upon which parochial affairs are carried on, and the great men of the village vigilantly exer- ,ei" care to keep him in darkness by fixing the hour of meeting at a time when it is im- possible for the toiler to attend. At present the clergyman by right takes the chair— whether it is or is not agreeable to his parishioners. If the latter desire him to preside he should do so, but at least they parishioners. If the latter desire him to preside he should do so, but at least they should have the opportunity of passing the compliment. It is unquestioned that in many vestry meetings there are men who are eminently more fitted to perform the func- tions of a chairman than their consecrated brother, who should not be troubled with carnal transactions. In the past, if the in- liabitants of a village agreed that it was de- sirable to effect an improvement, the parson had to be first consulted, and because the Bill reduces the importance of these estim-' iible gentlemen to the level of ordinary human beings, "it cuts away at least one link which for centuries has bound the State and the Church together." Continuing, the report deals with the question of voluntary schools and sectarian education. The latter is not considered suffi- cient at present, and mention is made of the BISHOP OF SALISBURY'S precious Bill for greater freedom of religious instruction in Board Schools, 'the Committee mourn that there is a tendency to depose religious teaching in Board Schools, and affirm that plain Christian teaching" should be se- cured as a portion of the instruction given. Later on the report deeply laments the de- mand of the Education Department for lMhool managers to put their buildings in sanitary order and conform with the Act. IThis they regard as a real crisis in the his- tory of voluntary schools. A few weeks ago 'We dealt with the question of sectarian teaching in State. aided voluntary schools, but there is in the report a veiled attack capon Mr ACLAND, the President of Educa- -tion. The reports of H.M Inspectors upon the various voluntary schools have revealed .A shocking -state of affairs. Many school .1mitdings are badly built, out of repair, de- void of lavatory and cloak-room accommo- dation, defective in regard to ventilation and 'Warming, while overcrowding is not infre- ^aeat. These prevalent cond tions are not conducive either to the health or education children, and Mr ACLAND, in persisting that such ill-conditioned buildings shall be improved, deserves the warmest thanks of -the whole community. Instead, he has ex- cited the fierce and unbending animosity of the Church clergy. These latter have con- spired against public opinion. They recog- nise full well that the populace cry out for a voice in the administration of the affairs of voluntary schools, and with the advent 43f the people to power a last farewell has to be said to sectarian instruction and church government. Why Mr ACLAND should be made the object of the concentrated hate of the elerical party is inexplicable. Church .orators scarcely ever forget to mention that they have been the pioneers of education, and ardently desire its spread. ,i _1.1 r. il If that were true they woum DO at mu ffight hand of Mr ACLAND, supporting his rolieyand seeing that education is imparted m accordance with the spirit of the Act. Instead of which the school managers, and the Church, through the Bishops in the House of Lords, give him their cordial dis- approval. If the clerical party were true friends to education they would rejoice in the fact that the country" has a minister at the Itead of the Education Department, who Jute done more to secure its triumph than any minister who has preceded him. In viewing these recommendations of the Committee, the only conceivable reason why tbtfy should be proposed by the full force of do Church is because the Parish Councils Bill, if passed, will just touch the incum- ) bent's power, while it is seen that if th6 unfair advantage which the Church has in instilling into the minds of tae young her own doctrines and practices, there is no hope for future adherents to her cause. A two fold endeavour is abroad, to protect voluntary schools, however insanitary they may be, and introduce, by fair means or foul, complete sectarian and doctrinal in. struction into Board Schools. It has been admitted by a supporter of this policy that the question of religious instruction and the ques- tion of school accommodation are the same thing seen from different sides. In addition to this there is the semblance of a desire tc keep the people in a state of ignorance, to allow the laws to remain unfair, and a manifest desire to acquire earthly power and such influence as will allow the Govern- ment of the country to be dictated by the Church. If she could attain to that position aud triumph by the innate merits of her own fdith, securing the popularity aud love of the nation, not a word could be said in disparagement, but while such practices are put forth, no words of censure are too strong. In spite of the bluster of Bishops and Lords concerning sectarian education, Mr ACLAND will maintain his policy, and in defiance of the report of the St. Asaph Committee, the Government will proceed to pass into law the Parish Councils Bill.