Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/604

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

permitted the church settlements of Otago and Canterbury in New Zealand to appropriate a portion of the funds derived from the sale of lands for the endowment of the Presbyterian and Anglican churches respectively. So far the colonies followed, latterly with halting steps, the history of the mother country. As in political, so in ecclesiastical government, they have anticipated that history. The American state churches did not survive the Revolution. In Canada the Presbyterians and other sects successfully asserted their claims to a share in the church endowments, which between 1840 and 1853 were distributed among the municipalities, all semblance of a connection between church and state being thus destroyed. New South Wales passed through a period of religious equality with concurrent endowment of the four most numerous denominations, and a long struggle against the principle of establishment was ended in 1879, when the reserves were devoted to the purposes of education. The practice of confiscating for the church n portion of the proceeds of the land sales was gradually dropped in Otago and Canterbury, probably more for commercial reasons than in consequence of the opposition of the democratic governor aforesaid, who spoked the wheel of the South Australians. Yielding to Nonconformist pressure, the liberal Government in 1869 enforced the principle of religious equality throughout the crown colonies, which were thus, willingly or not, made to follow the lead of the movement in Ireland. The internal organization of the colonial church is also anticipative. Fifty-two years ago Sir George Grey bestowed on the Anglican Church in New Zealand, then governed by him, a constitution modeled on that of the corresponding church in the United States, as the political constitution he drafted for the colony was modeled on the Constitution of the United States; and it has been imitated in other Australasian colonies, which have thus declared themselves independent of the mother church, while the colony is still politically dependent on the mother country. In yet another point the daughters have outstripped the parent. Three Presbyterian denominations still fissure the old home of Presbyterianism; only two have ever existed in the colonies, and for thirty years these two have been one. The four chief Methodist sects in Australia are also said to be on the point of amalgamating.

The development of doctrine runs a fourth parallel to those of buildings, cult, and organization, and in a brief space it recapitulates a long history. In early colonial communities religious dogma is found in a state of "albuminous simplicity." "A healthy man," says Thoreau, "with steady employment, as wood-chopping at fifty cents a cord, and a camp in the woods, will not be a good subject for Christianity." Nor will a bush-faller, at twenty-five shillings the