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Free Pews Proposed For St. Andrew's Episcopal Church By Rev. Tatlock

Free Pews Proposed For St. Andrew's Episcopal Church By Rev. Tatlock image
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Rev. Mr. Tatlock preached a sermon in St. Andrew's Episcopal church, Sunday morning, on free pews, which evidently struck the right chord in the parish, and the system of free pews will undoubtedly at once be put in force in St. Andrew's church in this city. Among the points in its favor made by Mr. Tatlock were the following: 1. The system is reverent toward the House of God; it does not make merchandise of it by giving property rights within it. 2. The system is in harmony with the truth that with God there is no respect of persons; that in Christ all are one. Under this system, in God's house, the rich and the poor have the same privileges. When the church is so administered that the rich may secure advantages which the poor cannot obtain; is so administered that when a man meets with financial reverses, he must take a less desirable seat than he was permitted to occupy before; is so administered that when the breadwinner of a family is taken away, his wife and children may no longer sit in church where they did when the husband and father was alive, can it truly be said that the administration of the church is in harmony with the spirit of the gospel which is preached in it? 3. The system places the church in the right attitude toward the community. It says in the clearest and most emphatic manner, This church is maintained not in the interest of its members alone, but in the interest of the whole community. Those who support it, support it because they believe in it; and they believe in it because of the good which it is ritted to do not only to themselves but to all who will come within the reach of its influence. Therefore its doors are thrown wide open. All are welcome and will be received on equal terms. 4. The system puts into practice the Bible doctrine, that the free-will offerings of the people form a part of worship, as truly as prayer and praise; and that, therefore, ihsse offerings are to be made conscientiously and systematically by every worshipper. The amount of each person's contribution is to be determined by his ability, according to the injunction, "If thou hast much, give plenteously; if thou hast little, do thy diligence gladly to give of that little." 5. The advantages thus far named, and others which might be mentioned, inhere in the system itself, and are likely to show themselves in any parish into which it is introduced. But in addition to these, there is often in a church in which the pews are rented a condition of things which furnishes a concrete argument in favor of free seats of peculiar cogency and strength. In not a few parishes, especially in large parishes, there is frequently a very considerable number of families and individuals belonging to the church, (in some cases no less than one third of the whole number of souls in the congregation), who are practically debarred from regularly attending the services of the church, under the system of rented pews. Many of these cannot rent pews, and as a general rule permanent residents will not regularly attend a church in which the pews are rented unless they are able to conform to the custom. Strangers and transients are willing to be shown to seats in pews rented by others; but permanent residents will accept this courtesy only occasionally. The system of renting pews originated in England about three hundred years ago and was brought from England to this country. Kor upwards of fifteen hundred years such a thing as a rented seat was unknown in the Christian church. VVithin the past fifty years the sentiment in favor of free churches has rapidly grown both in England and among ourselves. At present by far the greater number of new churches are made free from the beginning, and every year witnesses the transformation of pewed churches unto those which are free. Of all the churches of the Protestant Episcopal church in the United States, eighty per cent, are now free.