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Memoir of the Right Reverend John Strachan
Chapter XXII

Opening of King’s College, Toronto.—Second Triennial Visitation of the Clergy.—Special Meeting of the Church Society in reference to Sales of Clergy Reserves.—Legislative action thereupon.

AFTER the laying of the foundation stone of the University of King’s College, no time was lost in  making preparation for its actual work. Pending the completion of the building of which a commencement, as we have seen, had been made, it was determined, if possible, to procure some temporary place in Which the business of the University could be carried on; and, happily, the Parliament buildings in Toronto, which were now unoccupied, were allowed to be used for that purpose. Three Professors,—the Rev. Dr. Beaven, Mr. Potter, and Mr. Croft,—were obtained from England, in order to complete the staff immediately requisite; and on the 8th of June, 1843, the University was publicly opened.

“The solemnities of the day (we quote from the “Church” newspaper,) commenced with the performance of Divine Service in the College Chapel; which, with its very appropriate black walnut fittings, and sober decorations, presented a most seemly appearance. Addresses were delivered in the Hall by the President, the Lord Bishop of Toronto,—the Vice-President, the Rev. Dr; McCaul,—and the Hon. Chief Justice Robinson, and the Hon. Justice Hagerman, two of the official Visitors of the University. On the following day, inaugural Lectures were read by four Professors, viz.: the Rev. Dr. McCaul, the Rev. Dr. Beaven, Professor Potter, and Professor Croft. The ability displayed by the speakers and lecturers on both days, is said, by those who were present, to have been of a very high order in every respect, and to have added fresh lustre to the theological, literary, and scientific character of that best instructor of Britons,—the Church of the Empire.”

Twenty-seven students matriculated on the occasion, and the business of the University commenced in good earnest. All seemed bright on its horizon; but the past mutterings of discontent were remembered, and the hopes of its future were not without anxiety and apprehension. There was an undisguised jealousy of its connection with the Church, in the religious instruction interfused with its ordinary work; and the fear was outspoken at the time, that this might too soon revolutionize the whole Institution. “A fear of some such misfortune,” said the Chief Justice, in his admirable address, "is my only fear; but I trust that the wisdom of the Goverment and the Legislature may guard against the danger. It becomes us at least to entertain the hope; and may God in his goodness avert this and all other evils from the University of King’s College.”

The annual meeting of the Church Society,—the first after its formation,—was held during the same week at Toronto. The Bishop presided, and a large number of the Clergy and of the influential Laity of the Diocese were in attendance. The report of the year’s transactions was very encouraging; for although no Missionary work, under the auspices of the Society, had yet been instituted, the establishment of the Depository with a good supply of books was an important achievement. There had been sold during the past year 17,233 Books and Tracts; and the collections and sales during that period amounted to £1836.

On Thursday, 6th June, 1844?, the Bishop of Toronto held his Second Triennial Visitation of the Clergy of the Diocese in the Cathedral Church of this city. Seventy-four Clergymen were present. The Visitation Sermon, which was a very eloquent one, was preached by the Rev. William Macaulay, Rector of Picton; and after a recess of half an hour, following the administration of the Holy Communion, his Lordship, delivered his Charge. From this able address, occupying two hours and a half in the delivery, we shall make such extracts as more particularly bear upon the work and life of its author.

We have already given some account of his Confirmation journeys, and their results, in 1842 ; of what he effected in the following year, he says :—

“My journeyings during the last summer commenced on the 10th June, and ended on the 21st October, I visited the Niagara and Home Districts, and those of Simcoe, Colborne, Newcastle, Victoria, Prince Edward, Midland, Eastern, Bathurst, and Dalhousie. My travels were not quite so extensive as those of the previous year, but there was much more actual duty to be performed. The Confirmations at seventy-eight stations were 2923; Churches consecrated, five, and burial grounds, two ; sermons and addresses delivered, 155; miles travelled, 2277."

His Lordship, since his consecration, had held regularly two Ordinations every year, at Toronto. The results of these are thus shewn :—

"In October, 1839, when I returned from England to take charge of this Diocese, the number of the Clergy was 71; they have since increased to 103. Many changes and casualties have in the meantime, taken place. Some have removed, to employ themselves in other portions of the Lord's vineyard ; and a few have been called to give an account of their stewardship, and, it is hoped, to receive a blessed reward.

“While I saw much to call forth our thanksgivings to Almighty God, in passing through the Province, from beholding the vigorous progress of the Church wherever she found an opening,—the Congregations that were forming in all directions,—and Churches, of a simple and cheap structure, that were rising in every District, — there is another aspect which the Diocese presents of a far different character, and in which it exhibits, I must in sorrow confess, a melancholy picture.

“In this view, the map of the Diocese of Toronto, notwithstanding what has been done, presents an appalling degree of spiritual destitution. To the District of Ottawa, comprising nine townships, or more than a thousand square miles, I have not yet been able to send a single resident Clergyman. In the Wellington and Victoria Districts, each containing twelve townships,—in all, nearly three thousand square miles,—we have only two Clergymen. In other directions large portions of the country remain entirely without Gospel privileges, and have never seen the face of a single Clergyman. Some again are visited occasionally by a travelling Missionary, or the nearest resident Clergyman; but such visits are, from necessity, rare and at long intervals. Nothing happens for months, nay, for years, in many of our townships, to remind the inhabitants of the existence of the Church of God.”

He expressed himself in grateful terms of the munificence on our behalf of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, in sustaining even at this moment half of our Missionaries. He also thankfully acknowledged the bounty of the New England Society in supporting two Missionaries amongst the Indians, and in defraying the expense of a large and promising School of Industry for Indian boys and girls at the Mohawk Mission near Brantford. And he dwelt with great energy and hopefulness upon the Missionary Society just instituted amongst ourselves, and which promised in a large degree to supplement what it was not in the power of benevolent associations in the Mother Country to supply. Valuable remarks followed upon the* organization of the Church, the beauty of its Liturgy and the spiritual value of its Sacraments ; and he dwelt largely and forcibly upon the practical duties of the Ministers of that Church. The following are always pertinent, and always instructive :—

“Be not regardless of jour dress and appearance in Church, and especially with respect to your clerical habiliments. I need scarcely add, that I greatly disapprove of your performing Divine Service, or celebrating any of the offices of the Church, without the surplice. When you are decently robed, remember that the eyes of the congregation are upon you, and therefore it becomes you to take heed that you appear neither affected nor indifferent. The worship of God should be conducted soberly, gravely, and affectionately; in a manner suitable to those who pray, and to the majesty of Him who is addressed in prayer. Many of your people will form their estimate of the services, as well as of your sense of their value, by your manner and deportment. Your carriage, and behaviour should, therefore, in every respect be such as becomes a man who is about to perform an important and a sacred duty.

“Read with distinctness and solemnity; and have respect as far as you are able, to the character of the several parts of the service, and suit the tone of your voice to the matter, whether prayer or exhortation, narrative, or authoritative declarations of Scripture.

44 Some Clergymen, perhaps unwittingly to themselves, dwell almost entirely upon the doctrines, to the comparative exclusion of practice. Yet faith and practice are never separated in the Scriptures; which teach us that faith works by love, and to love God is to keep his commandments. Now, we should so preach the doctrines as to make them bear upon practice; and the practice as intimately connected with, and flowing from, the doctrines. The Gospel constitutes one whole, and is not to be divided into separate and independent parts; and therefore it concerns us frequently to ask, whether we are declaring to our people the whole counsel of God,—neither adding to, nor diminishing therefrom. To dwell almost entirely, in our preaching, upon the doctrines, and sparingly on the duties of morality, ought to be scrupulously avoided. Frequent and earnest appeals to the practical precepts of the Gospel must be made; minute descriptions of temper brought home; and special expositions of the personal and social duties urged at one time by the most endearing, and at another time by the most alarming motives.

“The preacher should not too unreservedly represent the common affairs of life as hostile to our true interests, and declaim, without the requisite qualifications, against the world and the things of the world as among the greatest hindrances and deadliest enemies to our spiritual progress. There is a sense, undoubtedly in which the world may be so considered, and in this sense it is largely employed in Scripture; but there is another sense in which it is used by the Apostle, when he speaks of those who use this world as not abusing it. The word world has, therefore, in Scripture two significations, which should be carefully distinguished. In the one, it is put for the wicked, who relish merely worldly things, and pursue only worldly objects ; and in the other, it signifies our field of duty, our place of probation, where, in humble imitation of our blessed Master, we must fulfil the work which has been given us to do.

“It is not left for us to decide whether visiting our people be a duty; for we are bound by our ordination vows to use both private and public monitions and exhortations as well to the rich as to all within our cule, as need shall require, or occasion shall be given. Such private visitation of our members should be conducted with great discretion, and due respect to the modest privacy of domestic life. Our object being to do good to the souls and bodies of men, care should be taken not to turn our visits into frivolous conversations, nor into public Church-like assemblies; for this would prevent the salutary effects we have in view. Public worship is better conducted in the Church than in a private house, where we seek to win friendly confidence and affection, and to meet face to face as a man talking to his friend. We desire to interest the kindly feelings of the family at their own fire-side.

“In this way, the Clergyman gains by degrees the hearts of his people; and when, by his personal attentions and frankness of conversation, he has acquired their good-will and confidence, he will be able, gently and almost imperceptibly, to instil good thoughts and principles into their minds.

"1 am aware that such a laborious task as this, considering the great extent of your charges, is very difficult, and in most of your missions can only be imperfectly accomplished. That difficulties will intervene,—that your visits will not at all times be well taken, and be sometimes offensively repelled, I am well aware; but believe me, this will seldom happen, and when it does, you must not despond. Disinterested kindness almost invariably begets kindness; and it is our duty to be instant in season, and out of season, and to go from house to house, and to take an interest in the affairs, temporal and spiritual, 'of our people, if we are anxious to win them to Christ. It is not easy to set any limit to the influence for good which you may acquire in your general missions from such private visiting, added to the regular ministrations of the Church

Our readers will recollect that a settlement of the Clergy Reserves question was effected by the Imperial Government in the summer of 1840; and that, by this arrangement, the proceeds of one-half of the lands then unsold were to be divided between the Churches of England and Scotland, in the proportion of two-thirds to the former and one-third to the latter. The property thus allotted was to be sold under the direction of the local Government, and the interest only of the amount realized paid over to those Churches. —It was discovered that these lands were being sold, in many cases, at prices much below their value, and that, in various instances, sales were unnecessarily forced; whereas, by a reasonable delay, good prices could be obtained. Moreover, the charges for management were excessive; so that, from these two causes, an immense sacrifice of the property of the Church was inevitable. The Bishop of Toronto, therefore, felt it his duty to summon a special meeting of the Church Society, in order that measures might be adopted for arresting this extravagant waste, and of obtaining from Government the power of selling and managing these lands ourselves.

This meeting was held at Toronto, on the 21st September, 1843, and was attended by a large number of influential gentlemen in town, and by representatives from various District and Parochial Associations throughout the Diocese.

A number of Resolutions were passed, accompanied by excellent speeches. In the course of his address, the Chief Justice dilated upon the ruinous waste caused by the system adopted for the disposal of these lands. “It appears,” he said, “that the receipts on account of sales up to the close of the year 1840, amounted to £186,574; the expenses attendant upon the collection of which were £19,857, or nearly a ninth of the whole. In the year 1841, the amount collected for Clergy Reserves was £14,564, and the expenses of collection £2,679, or about a sixth of the whole. In the year 1842, the sum collected on this account was £18,028 and the expenses £5344, or nearly a third of the whole!”

A petition to the Queen was adopted at this meeting, praying that an Act might be passed providing for the assignment to the Church of England of her share of the Reserved lands, and authorizing the Church Society of the Diocese to propose a system, subject to the approval of Her Majesty’s Government, for the disposal and management of these lands. Subsequently, petitions on the same subject to the Canadian Legislature were adopted; extensively circulated; and signed by about 8000 persons. In the Legislative Council, these petitions were referred to a Select Committee; which, on the 8th May, 1846, reported in favour of the prayer of the Petitioners. They declared it to be their opinion that this prayer is “reasonable and just, and that the injury which they wish to avoid is one which all who feel a sincere concern for the religious instruction and character of the people, should be equally anxious to prevent. It would (they affirm) be a matter of perpetual reproach to this Legislature, if the improvident sacrifice of a provision intended for such objects is allowed to proceed.”

The subject was taken up, and warmly debated, in the House of Assembly; and amongst the ablest supporters of the Petition of Churchmen was the Hon. W. H. Draper. In a long and eloquent speech, he went over the whole ground; dwelt upon the reasonableness and justice of the prayer of the Petitioners; and dissipated to the winds the flimsy objections urged against it. The solitary objection of the slightest prominence was that it was dangerous by any legislation, to re-open a question that had finally been set at rest, and renew an agitation that might be perilous to the interests of the Petitioners themselves. On the 22nd May, 1846, the motion of the Hon. Henry Sherwood, that the House do concur in the address to Her Majesty respecting the future sale and management of the Clergy Reserves, was lost by a vote of 19 to 31. Amongst the latter were fifteen French Canadians. Six years later, the absorption of the whole by the Provincial Legislature, and their application to secular purposes, was moved by the very individual who was most prominent in deprecating the re-opening of a question that had been finally settled!

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