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Mission misunderstood

18 November 2016

November 17th, 1916

IT IS no easy thing to keep the National Mission of Repentance and Hope on right lines. Many excellent persons, failing to perceive, or not remembering, the precise purpose for which it was instituted, have been going about airing their own views. In one parish of which we know, great disquietude has been caused by the visit of a lady who gave the impression that it was the duty of each villager to take at least one of his or her neighbours in hand with a view to reformation of suspected faults. It seemed not to strike them that if A called upon B with this intention, B had an equal right to call upon A, and reduce the whole business to an absurdity. The purpose of the Mission, as we understand it, is to induce A and B to reform themselves as constituent members of the nation, which, as a whole, would thus be reformed. We see that the Municipal Engineering and Sanitary Record conceives that public hygiene, or what it calls “the gospel of cleanliness”, should be the first consideration at this time. “If ministers of religion”, our contemporary observes, “can be induced to become also ministers of health, their mission will be glorified.” We do not deny that, in their parochial ministrations, they could do much useful work for hygiene, but this is not their primary duty. The journal to which we refer took exception to the Bishop of London’s sermon in St Peter’s, Vere-street, in which he deprecated the introduction into schools of scientific lectures on health in place of religious instruction. The Bishop was perfectly right. We do not reproach the sanitary inspector for not occupying himself in missionary labours.


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