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transition that one of the most distinguished representatives of Methodism in the provinces entered upon his influential career. We refer to Egerton Ryerson. The manner in which the young preacher responded to derogatory comments upon the Methodists by Strachan in 1825 was enjoyed by a large proportion of the people, and was taken as a prophecy of future eminence.
In respect of union the Canadian Methodists have recently afforded an excellent example to their brethren this side of the border. An incentive in this direction seems to have been supplied by the political unification of the Dominion. In 1867, in pursuance of the British North American Act, the four Provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, were connected as members of a confederation, which subsequently was joined by Manitoba, British Columbia, and Prince Edward Island. The union of the several Methodist bodies was commenced in 1874 and carried to completion in 1884.
An epitome of the educational work of Methodism in the Dominion of Canada was thus given at the Ecumenical Conference of 1891 : “ In the fourteen higher educational institutions belonging to Canadian Methodism, we have 2,522 students, taught by 157 professors and tutors. The annual income of these institutions is $190,209, and their endowments and other assets amount to over $1,300,000. They have in the past fifty years graduated over 3,300 young men and women in the various courses of study, nearly 600 of these receiving the B. A. degree. Of the students, 208 are pursuing the divinity course, affording a full supply of educated men for the ranks of our ministry. Victoria University has this year entered upon its fifty-first year of university work, and next year Mt. Allison will celebrate the jubilee year of its foundation.” 1
Among the immigrants from continental Europe who were introduced into Nova Scotia in 1751, a number belonged to the Reformed Church, and were essentially Presbyterian in doctrine and discipline. But as they remained for a considerable interval without pastoral supervision, they afforded a less positive beginning for the Presbyterian Church in that province than did settlers from Ireland and New England, who came shortly after the expatriation of the Acadians in 1755. James Lyon from New Jersey (1764) and Samuel Kinlock from Scotland (1766) were the first preachers among the settlers, and James Murdoch (1766) the first Presbyterian minister who was permanently settled in Nova Scotia. In 1817, when the Synod of Nova Scotia was organized, there were twenty-three Presbyterian ministers in the Eastern Provinces, of whom nineteen were connected with the Synod. In the western provinces there was not so early a growth of the Presbyterian interest, but a much greater expansion ultimately. A beginning was made at Quebec shortly after the capture of the city by the English.
Ireland and Scotland being the principal recruiting grounds of Canadian Presbyterianism, there was naturally a reproduction of the ecclesiastical divisions which obtained in those countries. But happily the separating walls have not proved to be insuperable. The year 1876 found the vast majority of Presbyterians in the Dominion united in a single body bearing the name of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. This Church, while falling a little behind the Methodist in respect of numbers, is considered second to none of the Protestant communions of the country in point of wealth. The progress which it has made in provision for ministerial education was described in 1885 as follows: “Previous to 1817 there was no educational institution in British North America in which students might be trained for the ministry of the Presbyterian Church, and the Pictou Academy, which was opened for this purpose in that year, remained for a long time the only institution of the kind in the country. But at present there are in the Dominion six Presbyterian colleges in which ministers may be trained, one in Halifax, one in Quebec, one in Montreal, one in Kingston, one in Toronto, and one in Winnipeg. In these colleges there are fifteen theological professors and one hundred and forty-four theological students, besides about an equal number of students in literary classes in preparation for the ministry.” 1
1 William Briggs, Christian Advocate, Oct. 29, 1891.
While Congregationalism was represented at an early date by a number of churches in the eastern provinces, it made but little progress for a long interval after the Revolutionary War. Its principal gains in the provinces of Quebec and Ontario have been secured since 1840. The Baptists constitute much the larger body in the Dominion holding the principles of the Congregational polity. Their chief strength is in the maritime provinces. As early as 1817 they numbered here about 26,000. Three fourths of their whole membership as reported in 1881 belonged to this part of the Dominion.
1 Gregg, History of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, p. 575.
The substitution of British for French rule tended in a measure to strengthen the sense of direct connection with Rome on the part of Canadian Roman Catholics, since the French government had assumed no small share in the control of ecclesiastical affairs, and its function in this respect could not willingly be conceded to a Protestant power by those who looked upon Protestantism as deadly heresy. Still, there was no rapid drift toward the high papal theory. “Except in the diocese of Montreal,” says a competent observer, “there was no part of Canada in which the Ultramontane contagion had produced much, if any, visible effect before the promulgation of the Vatican decrees. The episcopal assault on the Institut Canadien had commenced several years before. Liberal journals had been denounced by the Bishop of Montreal, and he had refused to admit that laymen had any right to liberty of opinion. But at this time Bishop Bourget, the leader of the Ultramontane movement in Lower Canada had neither the sympathy nor the concurrence of his episcopal colleagues. The palace of the Archbishop of Quebec was still the lingering refuge of Gallicanism, and the other bishops were far more in sympathy with the Archbishop than with the Bishop of Montreal." 1
But after the Vatican Council Ultramontanism of a radical type passed rapidly into the ascendant, at least in the Province of Quebec. The Fifth Provincial Council (1873), after quoting the language of the Council of Florence, added : “We wish that this solemn decree should be frequently inculcated upon the faithful of this province, in order that they all may know that the Sovereign Pontiff, the legitimate successor of Saint Peter, has the primacy in all the Church, in such a manner that all proceeds from him as from the source of spiritual authority, and that all converges toward him as toward the centre of unity, and that he is able of his own proper right to issue decrees upon faith, morals, and discipline which all the faithful are bound to obey in spirit and in heart.” i The same council declared the
i Charles Lindsey, Rome in Canada, 1877, pp. 3, 4.
1 subordination of the civil power to the Church, compared Catholic Liberalism to the serpent which crawled into paradise to tempt the human race to its fall, and ordained that absolution should be denied to parents who, when advised to the contrary, should persist in sending their children to Protestant or non-religious schools.
Like sentiments were repeated in the joint pastoral which the bishops of the Province of Quebec issued in 1875, together with very plain hints that politics should be used as an instrument of Ultramontane propagandism. The priests were instructed that cases might arise which would make it incumbent upon them to direct the vote of their parishioners, with the understanding that those discarding their direction would be liable to church censures. In the same connection they were advised of their exemption from the authority of civil tribunals as respects their official conduct. As they might employ the confessional to determine whether
i Cited in Mandements, Lettres Pastorales, et Circulaires des Évêques de Québec, Nouvelle Série, ii. 288, 289.