14 JANUARY 1843, Page 1

A change has been begun in the mechanical arrangements of

our churches, which, if it be carried out, must materially alter the re- lation of the Church to the People : it is the removal or throwing open of the pews. The proceeding is condemned by conservatives of form, on the ground that it removes an outward and visible sign of the distinction between the Protestant and the Roman Catholic churches, and because it is supposed to be a concession to Pusey- ism : it is vindicated, on the ground that it abolishes a very un- sightly encumbrance in our church-architecture, which forms no necessary adjunct of Protestantism, while it is opposed to the spirit of Christianity, as marking out invidious human distinctions in the sacred edifice, and even excluding people from worship by wasting space. Whatever the opinion as to the expediency, there is no doubt that the measure would in some respects assimilate our churches to those of Southern Europe ; from which they are now distinguished by two among other usages. The churches of the Continent stand open always, as places of religious solace and quiet to the afflicted or the meditative : our churches are oftener shut than open ; and in the brief hours when they are open, if we may believe certain correspondents of the Times, not the money- changers, but the worshipers, are sometimes rather abruptly driven from the temple. Within the churches of the Continent the dis- tinctions of class disappear, and, with certain exceptions of state occasions,- you shall see young and old, rich and poor, prince and beggar, kneeling together. All are equal in the sight of God, " as the saying is," here: on the Continent it looks as if they really thought so. It is for others to consider how far those wooden pen- folds are essential to the diseipline of the Reformed Church : the politician, regarding an established church as a means of civiliza- tion, cannot but perceive that the new movement has a tendency

more than any thing to popularize the institution, and so to di- minish the distance between it and the people. In the same sense, it would also tend to remove one instance, and one which makes others, of that harsh social severance into classes, which is one of the most mischievous features of our political state.