Editorial Comment on the formation of ‘another Society’.
The Church Intelligencer (monthly journal of the Church Association)
Volume 7 – 1890 (issue 3, page 35)
What! Another Society! No, happily, not quite so bad as that. And yet there was surely need of enlisting, combining, and organising the great mass of the Protestant voters who at present scatter their votes, and fritter away their influence because unable to make parliamentary candidates pay the respect due to solid and serried ranks. Your would-be M.P. is largely malleable and ductile; but too often he cares little for sentiment, and not much for principle, when he finds himself confronted with the earnest opposition of a “solid vote.” Hence it is, that while small bodies of men in earnest are always able to compel respectful attention to their wishes, the great mass of the Protestant population finds no adequate representation of its interests in the House of Commons. Neither Mr. Gladstone nor the Marquis of Salisbury will desist from gratifying their personal predilections at the expense of the Church of England, until we have learned from the Home-Rulers to make their tenure of office impossible without making concessions to an opposition too formidable to be resisted. All parties are now hastening to pay court to “the coming Democracy.” If we are to be governed by the “working classes,” by all means let us take pains to see that our future rulers are at least well informed as to the history of their Church. Let us invite their aid and co-operation, without which we shall be powerless to effect either the abolition of the Veto or any other needful and beneficial changes in the law. There is a mine of untold wealth of energy and enthusiasm hitherto locked up in the populations of our large towns, and even in country districts, which has never yet been got at.
The hearty and encouraging response made to the appeal of the Rev. C. H. Wainwright at Preston will be read with much interest. Nearly four hundred names given in two days is no mean augury of success; and Mr. Miller has already received applications or proposals for similar branches at several centres, The interminable length of the Lambeth trial and the report of the Preston Conference have crowded out of the present number many other topics of interest. We have not space therefore to add more. But we make bold to say, that no movement of greater promise has been inaugurated of late than this bona fide working-men’s movement (not, we trust, to prove a sickly exotic like the so-called C.E.W.M.S. fêted by bishops and officered by deans, yet lacking “Working-men” to form its rank and file, but) a spontaneous coming together in the spirit of our excellent Preston Branch, to rally round the old flag, and to restore tone and vigour to the somewhat nerveless and flabby Protestantism of our spiritual rulers.
The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few. The friendly aid of all who are willing to assist in this great and promising work is eagerly sought for and earnestly solicited.
The following is the simple and elastic Constitution of the new League, its objects being based upon the scheme of Church Reform put forth by the Council in 1886. (See Church Intelligencer, iii.-30):—
OBJECTS.—1. To maintain unimpaired “the Protestant Reformed Religion, established by law,” and to defend it against all encroachments of Popery.—2 To spread sound Protestant Truth in the Church of England.—3. To unite in prayer for the increase of Spiritual Religion.—4. To co-operate with the Church Association in upholding Reformation Principles; to educate the Young in Evangelical Truth; and to disseminate sound and wholesome literature.—5. To secure the return of Protestant Candidates at Parliamentary Elections.
METHODS OF WORKING.—1. The formation of Lodges in Towns and Villages; 2. Social gatherings in Drawing Rooms, School Rooms, or Gardens; 3. Public Meetings, Lectures or Tea Meetings, to give information, report progress, and to confer; 4. Meetings for Prayer; 5. Distribution of Literature; 6. Classes for Instruction; 7. Obtaining Signatures to Petitions.
STATUTES.—1. Each member of the League (male or female) shall pay One shilling per annum. 2. Each member of the League shall undertake to devote his (or her) best ability to maintain the Protestant religion, and to secure the return of Protestant candidates at Parliamentary elections. 3. Each member shall receive from the Council of the Church Association in London the diploma of the League, and a badge can be purchased. 4. Any six or more persons in a town or village may form a lodge, and call a meeting to enrol members. 5. The president and vice-presidents of a lodge shall pay Two shillings and sixpence per annum. 6. Not less than one-half of the subscriptions received through a lodge shall be remitted to London, the remainder being retained for local expenses. 7. Each lodge shall be governed by a committee elected annually by its members, such committee being responsible to the Council of the Church Association in London. 8. Every lodge shall, if possible, hold two public meetings or lectures each year, and a special meeting of a lodge shall be called whenever necessary, to consider any important matter referred to it by the London Council. 9. Minutes of meetings, and a register of members and associates shall be kept by every lodge, and a brief report of work done and progress made should be forwarded each year to the London Council.