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an original sermon, which I preached, or rather read, to inaugurate the royal letter.
My text was taken from Heb. xii. 22-24, come unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church. of the first-born, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel." I applied these words to the Church of England, and rather reproached the Cornish people for not being more loyal and scriptural!
I think I was more roused by my sermon than any one else; and no one asked me to print it, but I did for all that, with a copy of the king's letter. I am sorry to say that the public did not care sufficiently about it to buy copies enough even to pay for printing.
It fell very flat, but I attributed that to the degeneracy of the times, and of Cornish people in particular. The fact was, they understood that text far better than I did, and knew that "The Church of the first-born " was something more spiritual than I had any conception of.
From the commencement of my ministry I did not, as a general rule, preach my own germons, but Newman's, which I abridged and simplified, for in that day I thought them most sound in doctrine, practical, and full of good common sense. Indeed, as far as Church teaching went, they were, to my mind, perfect. They stated doctrines and drew manifest conclusions; but my people were not satisfied with them then; and I can see now, thank God! that, with all their excellences, they were utterly deficient in spiritual vitality.
The author was one whom I personally admired very
THE CHOIR "ON STRIKE."
much, but by his own showing, in his "Apologia," he was a man who was searching not for God, but for a Church. At length, when he grasped the ideal of what a Church ought to be, he tried by the Oxford Tracts, especially No. XC., to raise the Church of England to his standard; and failing in that, he became dissatisfied, and went over to the Church of Rome.
Once, when I arrived at a friend's house in the Lake district, I was told that there was a most beautiful view of distant mountains to be seen from my window. In the morning I lifted the blind to look, but only saw an ordinary view of green fields, hedges, trees, and a lake. There was nothing else whatever to be seen. In the course of the day, a heavy mist which had been hanging over the lake was dispersed, and then I saw the beautiful mountains which before had been so completely veiled that it was difficult to believe in their existence.
So it was with me. I could see ecclesiastical things, but the more glorious view of spiritual realities beyond them, in all their full and vast expanse, was as yet hidden.
Whether my extracts from Newman's Sermons were more pointed, or whether I became more impatient with my congregation, I cannot tell, but it was very evident that my words were beginning to take effect at last; for as I went on preaching and protesting against the people and against schism, my "bass viol" called on me one day, and said, "If you go on preaching that doctrine, you will drive away the best part of your congregation." "Excuse me," I answered, "not the best part; you mean the worst part." "Well," he said, "you will see."
On the following Sunday, I gave out my text, and had scarcely read three pages of my manuscript when I heard a voice say, "Now we will go." With this, the "bass viol," the other fiddles, the clarionet, the ophicleide, and the choir,
came stumping down the gallery stairs, and marched out. Some of the congregation followed their example, with the determination never to come back to the Church again. I waited till the noise was over, and then went on with my sermon meekly, and thought myself a martyr for Church principles.
I little thought that the people were being martyred; yet they were right, and enlightened in the truth, while I was altogether in the dark, and knew nothing about it. From this time there was a constant feud between the parishioners and myself. I thought that they were schismatics; and they knew that I was unconverted, and did not preach the Gospel.
One day, a Dissenter called to pay a burial fee for the funeral of his child, which he had purposely omitted paying at the proper time because he wished to tell me a piece of his mind. I was absent on the occasion on some architectural or archæological business, which was to me all important. "I know," he said, why you went away and would not bury my child." "Do you?" I asked. "Yes; it was because I am a Dissenter." "Oh !" I said, "I would bury you all to-morrow if I could; for you are no good, and can do none either."
This went round the parish like wildfire, and did not advance my popularity, or do my cause any good.
Seriously at this time I thought that separation from the Church of England was a most deadly sin—it was schism. Idolatry and murder were sins against the Mosaic law; but this was a sin against the Church. I little dreamt then that many of the people with whom I thus contended, and whom I grieved so much, were real spiritual members of Christ, and had only ceased to be members of the Church of England because I did not preach the Gospel; that, in fact, I was the cause of their leaving the services; that I
"THE HOUSE OF GOD."
was the schismatic, for I was separated from Christ: they only, and that for a good reason, had separated from the communion of the Church of England, which I misrepresented.
The Church of England's teaching since the Reformation, like that of the primitive Church, is based not on baptism, but CONVERSION. Baptism was intended according to the Lord's commandment (Matt. xxviii. 19), for the purpose of making disciples*—that is, to graft members into the body of Christ's Church outwardly. Whatever special grace is given to infants and others at baptism, is given upon the condition of personal faith and repentance. Until a baptized person has been enabled by the Holy Ghost to repent and believe the Gospel, he is not really a new-born child of God, or raised from death unto life, though nominally, in the words of the Catechism, he has "been made a child of God."
Since the feuds and dissensions in my parish, the church was almost deserted, and left chiefly to myself, my clerk, and a few poor people, who, for the most part, were in ill favour in the chapels.
One day I was absorbed in writing, or rather re-writing, a text over the porch door of the church. It was, "This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." A man who was standing at the foot of the ladder said, "Heaven is a long way from that gate, I reckon." I pretended not to hear him, but his speech stuck to me. 1 knew only too well from this, and many other indications, that the people had no respect for the church under my ministrations.
The New Parish.
BOUT this time the news reached us that the Vicar was dead; and thus ended my connection with Perranzabuloe. As the Dean and Chapter would not appoint me to succeed, I had no alternative but to make arrangements for my departure.
In one sense I was not sorry to go; but for various other reasons I much regretted having to leave a place where my health had been so wonderfully restored and sustained, and in which I had received so many tokens of God's favour. It is true that my labours were of an external character; but these I thought most important, and did them with all my might as unto the Lord. I took the work as from Him, and did it all to Him, and for Him, thanking Him for any token of success or commendation which I received.
I also regretted leaving the place before I had done any good to the people; for, with all my endeavours, I had not succeeded in persuading them to receive my idea of salvation by churchmanship.
However, the door was shut behind me; and this crisis happened at the exact time of another important event in