Page images

while an active subordinate agency should arise, and spread itself by its energy, and if the power, which ought to adopt, encourage, and direct whatever is good, should rather despise and persecute it,-a virtual separation might ensue. But, even in such a case, supposing that the Truth is really revived, taught, and practised by the subordinate agents, this occurrence, so far from being an evil, may be a good of no ordinary kind; though not so great a good as if the Church, in which it first sprung up, had cordially adopted it. This has been, in some degree, the case with Methodism. It professed, for many years, a strict subordination to the National Church. Its agency was offered to that Church for many years; but it was rejected and persecuted. It has now gradually acquired, at least in many parts of this country, the form of a regular Church; but certainly, with no injury even to the National Church itself, to which it yet bears a strong affection, and which it has powerfully

excited to exertion.

Where, however, the regular Ministers of a Church remain generally sound in doctrine, and fulfil the duties of their station, all disposition to separation, and to the multiplication of sects, grounding their separation on no sound and scriptural principle, or being too hasty to separate, even when that can be pleaded, is a great evil; as it may lead to indefinite divisions, may sink the character of the Ministry, may encourage real fanaticism, and tend to destroy, good discipline. The great remedy for all this, though to some extent it may happen after all, is furnished by DR. CHALMERS. He would not encourage either the superior or the subordinate agency exclusively. Either is an evil, if it be alone. If the regular Ministry grasp every thing, the work will not be done, for their number is too small ;-the "out-field population," to use DR. C.'s phrase, will not be reached. If, on the other hand, the subordinate agency only be impelled to activity, the order of CHRIST'S Church is broken; the proper offices of the Pastors of the Churches are either invaded, or fall into disregard; errors, irregularities,

fanaticism, become triumphant; and,
by a re-action which always follows,
paralysis succeeds to convulsive and
morbid activity. DR. CHALMERS,
therefore, wisely looks on both sides;
and were what he calls his "beau
ideal" realized, none but vincible
He would
dangers could occur.
still further encourage learning in
the Clergy; he would replenish their
ranks with wise and zealous Evan-
gelists, as the only men whose
"preaching and living" can give
them influence; (and they are the
only Clergy who in fact obtain it ;)
but he would call every Christian,
who can be useful to others, into
some department of exertion.

"According to our beau ideal of a well going and a well constituted church, there should be among its ecclesiastics the very highest literature of their profession, and among its laymen the most zealous and active concurrence of their personal labours in the cause. The only check upon the occasional eccentricities of the latter should be the enlightened judgment of the former: and this, in

every land of freedom and perfect toleration, will be found enough for the protection of a community against the inroads of a degrading fanaticism. It is utterly wrong, that because zeal breaks forth, at times, into excesses and deviations, there should, therefore, be no zeal; or, because spiritual vegetation has its weeds as well as its blossoms, all vegetation should, therefore, be repressed. The wisest thing, we apprehend, for adding to the produce of the christian vineyard is to put into action all the productive tendencies that which may come forth will wither and disappear, under the eye of an enlightened clergy: so that while, in the first instance, the utmost space and enlargement should be permitted, for the manifold activities of christian love, upon the one hand, there should be no other defence ever thought of, against the occasional pruriencies that may arise out of this operation, than the mild and pacific, but altogether efficacious corrective of christian learning, upon the other." (pp. 335, 336.)

be found in it. The excrescencies

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

advocated by DR. CHALMERS, not only a justification of our system, that might merely gratify us,-but a high road of duty most clearly laid down. We have a large subordinate agency at work in every part of the kingdom, and, in most cases, with the greatest benefit to the cause of true religion; but its lasting benefit and efficiency consist in its connection with the order, discipline, and direction of a Christian Church. These powers are vested in its Ministers. They must rise with this auxiliary agency, and work with it. To them belong the careful cultivation of ministerial talent and ministerial zeal and devotion,-learning, at least in a few,-sound biblical knowledge, and powerful and instructive preaching, in all,—and an ever active and wakeful zeal, prompting every subordinate agency, and, by the legitimate influence resulting from office, gifts, and graces, at once maintaining it in activity, and giving to it its right and safe di


Our limits will only allow us another topic, and that is the very gratifying one, to which we before have briefly alluded, of DR. CHALMERS's liberality. As a zealous Minister of an Established Church, he is the advocate of an Establishment; and as he holds such an Institution,-an Establishment with full toleration,we perfectly agree with him. Speaking of the importance of external mechanism for the transmission of Christianity, he observes,

"We hold the very same principles to be applicable to the question of religious establishments. It is true, that our present goodly apparatus of churches and parishes was reared and perfected in days of thickest darkness. But when the light of reformation arose, it broke its way with greater force and facility, because of the very passages which Popery had opened; and let our ecclesiastical malcontents ascribe what corruption they may to the establishments of England and Scotland, we hold them to be the destined instruments both for propagating and for augmenting the christianity of our land, and should never cease to regret the overthrow of this mighty apparatus, as a catastrophe of deadliest import to the religious character of our nation. The doctrine of a

celestial influence does not supersede, but rather calls for, a terrestrial mechanism, to guide and to extend the distribution of it; and it is under the want of the latter, that a mass of heathenisin attained to such a magnitude and density, has deepened, and accumulated, and in our large towns. The healing water is a treasure which must be looked for and prayed for from heaven; but still, it is put into earthen vessels, and is conveyed through the whole body of corruption by earthen path-ways." (pp. 23, 24.)

The following passage affords a further view of his argument on this point:

"It is perhaps the best among all our establishment in a country, that the more general arguments for a religions spontaneous demand of human beings for religion, is far short of the actual interest which they have in it. This is not so, with their demand for food or raiment, or any article which ministers to the necessities of our physical nature. The more destitute we are of these ar

ticles, the greater is our desire after them. In every case, where the want of any thing serves to whet our appetite, instead of weakening it, the supply of that thing may be left, with all safety, to the native and powerful demand for it, among the people themselves. The sensation of hunger is a sufficient guarantee for there being as many bakers in a country, as it is good and necessary for the country to have, without any national establishment of bakers. This ber enough, at the mere bidding of the order of men will come forth, in numpeople; and it never can be for want of them, that society will languish under the want of aliment for the human body.

"But the case is widely different, when the appetite for any good is short of the degree in which that good is useful or necessary; and, above all, when just in proportion to our want of it, is the decay of our appetite towards it. Now this is, generally speaking, the case with religious instruction. The less we have of it, the less we desire to have of it. It is not with the aliment of the soul, as it is with the aliment of the body. The latter will be sought after; the former must be offered to a people whose spiritual appetite is in a state of dormancy, and with whom it is just as necessary to create a hunger, as it is to minister a positive supply. In these circumstances, it were vain to wait for any original movement on the part of the receivers, It must be made on the part of the dispensers. Nor does it follow, that be

cause government may wisely abandon to the operation of the principle of demand and supply all those interests, where the desires of our nature, and the necessities of our nature, are adequate the one to the other, she ought, therefore, to abandon all care of our interest, when the desire, on the part of our species, is but rare, and feeble, and inoperative, while the necessity is of such a deep and awful character, that there is not one of the concerns of earthliness which ought, for a moment, to be compared with it.

"This we hold to be the chief ground upon which to plead for the advantage of a religious establishment. With it, a church is built, and a teacher is provided, in every little district of the land. Without it, we should have no other security, for the rearing of such an ap paratus, than the native desire and demand of the people for Christianity, from one generation to another. In this state of things, we fear, that christian cultivation would only be found in rare and occasional spots over the face of extended territories; and instead of that uniform distribution of the word and ordinances, which it is the tendency of an establishment to secure, we conceive that in every empire of Christendom, there would be dreary, unprovided blanks, where no regular supply of instruction was to be had, and where there was no desire after it on the part of an untaught and neglected population.

"We are quite aware, that a pulpit may be corruptly filled, and that there may be made to emanate from it the evil influence of a false or mitigated Christianity on its surrounding neighbourhood. This is an argument, not against the good of an establishment, but for the good of toleration. There is no frame-work reared by human wisdom, which is proof against the frequent in cursions of human depravity. But if there do exist a great moral incapacity on the part of our species, in virtue of which, if the lessons of Christianity be not constantly obtruded upon them, they are sure to decline in taste and in desire for the lessons of Christianity; and if an establishment be a good device for overcoming this evil tendency of our nature, it were hard to visit, with the mischief of its overthrow, the future race either of a parish or of a country, for the guilt of one incumbency, or for the unprincipled patronage of one generation. We trust, therefore, in the face of every corruption which has been alleged against them, that our parochial establishments will stand, so as that churches shall be kept in repair, and

ministers, in constant succession, shall be provided for them. At the same time, we hope that no restriction whatever will be laid on the zeal and exertion of Dissenters. But such is our impression of the overwhelming superiority of good done by an Establishment, that, in addition to the direct christian influence which it causes to descend upon the country, from its own ministers, we regard it as the instrument of having turned the country into a fitter and more prepared field for the reception of a christian influence from any other quarter: Insomuch, that had the period of the reformation from Popery, in Britain, been also the period for the overthrow and cessation of all religious establishments whatever, we apprehend that there would not only have been no attendance of people upon churches, but a smaller attendance of people upon meetinghouses than there is at this moment. They are our establishments, in fact, which have nourished and upheld the taste of the population for Christianity; and when that taste is accidentally offended, they are our establishments which recruit the dissenting places of worship with such numbers, as they never would have gotten out of that native mass which had been previously unwrought, and previously unentered on." (pp. 89-93.)

The liberal sentiments of the Author are every where manifest, but with the following observations he closes the Volume:

"In this laborious process of nursing an empire to Christianity, we know not, at present, a readier or more available apparatus of means than that which has been raised by Methodism. In every large town of England, it owns a number of disciples, and, through a skilful mechanism that has been long in operation, there is a minute acquaintance, on the part of their leaders, with the talents and character of each of them.. Why should not they avail themselves of their existing facilities for the adoption of this system [of locality,] and so, thoroughly pervade that population by their Sabbath-Schools, which they only, as yet, have partially drawn to their pulpits? It would be doing more, in the long run, to renovate and multiply the chapels of Methodism, than all that has yet been devised by them and thus might they both extend religious education among the young, and a church-going habit throughout the general population. We doubt not that, with this new style of tactics, they would mightily alarm the Establishment. But so much the better, 2 F

VOL. I. Third Series. APRIL, 1822.

This is just the salutary application which the Establishment stands in need of. And, from all that we have learned of the catholic and liberal spirit of this class of Dissenters, we guess that, though they did no more than simply stimulate the Church of England to do the whole work, and to do it aright, they would bless GOD and rejoice.

"Such is the good will we bear to Sectarians, that we should rejoice in nothing more than to behold their instantaneous adoption of an expedient which, we honestly believe, would add tenfold to their resources and their influence. Let them operate in large towns, on the principle of locality. Let them enter on the territorial possession of this peopled wilderness. Let them erect as many District-Schools and District-Chapels as they find that they have room for; and if the Establishment will not be roused, by this manifold activity, out of its lethargies, then Sectarianism will, at length, earn, and most rightfully earn, all the honours and all the ascendency of an Establishment. It is, indeed, a most likely thing that the Church would be put into motion; and this, of itself, were an important good rendered to the country, by the industry and zeal of Dissenters. But when we look to the fearful deficiency of our ecclesiastical

system, there is no fear lest all the galley-boats of Sectarianism, with the slow and ponderous Establishment in tow, will too soon overtake the mighty extent of our yet unprovided population. Nor do we know of any common enterprise that would promise fairer, at length, for embodying the Church and the Dissenters together, by some such act of comprehensive union, as has lately reflected so much honour on the two most numerous classes of Dissenters in our country." (pp. 355, 356.)

Protracted as has been our Review of this Volume, we do not feel that any apology is due to our Readers for that circumstance; because we are sure that the high importance of its various subjects, and the peculiarly able and practical manner in which the Author has discussed them, would have amply justified details yet more copious, and observations more extended. We conclude by recommending to all Christian Philanthropists, with whom our judg ment may have influence, the immediate purchase and careful study of this most interesting, argumentative, and eloquent work.

Farewell Letters to a few Friends in Britain and America, on returning to Bengal in 1821. By WILLIAM WARD, of Serampore. 12mo. pp. 312. 6s. bds.

(Concluded from page 180.)

THE subject of the third Letter, "the Future State of the Heathen," is one on which Christians will considerably differ, according to the different systems they embrace, and their opposite views of those passages of Scripture which relate to this momentous subject. Happily this has become, from the better inform ation we have received as to the actual moral practice of Pagans, much less a speculative question than formerly. The point is not now what the Gentiles, who "have not the law," may be, or might have been, but what they actually are;-not what opportunities they may have had to acquaint themselves with GOD, and be at peace with him, but what use they have, in point of fact, made of such advantages, whether many or few. Whatever theory we embrace, (except we come to the

monstrous conclusion, that idolatry can be pleasing to Him who hath declared it to be "that abominable thing which he hateth," and that the grossest sins of the heart, the tongue, and the life, are regarded by him as virtues, or, at least, as not punishable,) we must, after the statements which have been repeatedly given by witnesses so credible as those who have made solemn and explicit deposition to the facts, come to the heart-stirring and heart-rending conclusion, that "the wrath of GOD abideth upon them." This is that practical and most useful view of this point of theological difficulty, on which MR. WARD judiciously endeavours to fix the attention of the christian public.

"I have no objection, if such an idea can be fairly established, to believe, that CORNELIUS's prayers were heard

while a heathen, and destitute of faith in CHRIST; and that GOD does, by his SPIRIT, change the hearts of heathens, as he does those of dying infants, imparting to them the blessings of salvation through the REDEEMER. But then I must observe, that, amidst a pretty large acquaintance with the heathen in India, I have never seen one man who appeared to "fear GOD and work righteousness." On the contrary, the language of the Apostle seems most strikingly applicable to them all: There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none that understandeth; there is none that seeketh after (the true) GOD. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongue they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; their feet are swift to shed blood; § and the way of peace they have not known.""

(pp. 31-33.)

After such a statement, and it is one which other respectable and observant Missionaries have made, we may well ask with the pious Author,

"With what feelings should a christian view these ravages of sin and death? With Satanic congratulation? With stoical apathy? Or with the feelings of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, when, in the broken language of the most poignant grief, he lamented the destiny of a city about to be awfully visited for the commission of a crime, in which he himself was to be the only sufferer?" (p. 29.)

This is, in truth, the most affecting part of MR. WARD's book, though several of the Letters are filled with the shocking details of a cruel and sanguinary superstition, and of the awful waste of human life, which it naturally induces. It was, however, important that these also should be brought forward, and honestly exposed, that the palliations of idolatry, which so many have attempted, might be put to the blush, and addi

tional motives to exertion be drawn from scenes of so much horror, to engage the sympathy of our hearts, and bind every benevolent feeling fast to a work of so much mercy, as

The impurity of their conversation is beyond all description.

They are finished adepts in the art of deception.

For slander and abuse they stand unrivalled, even amongst the most degraded of mankind.

Oh how strikingly is this exemplified in the eagerness with which the Hindoos go into the work of immolating the poor widow

and other human victims!

[blocks in formation]

"I am not aware how long the tribe of Rajpoots have been in the practice of putting to death their female offspring. It must have arisen at the time when the Hindoo monarchs of this tribe reigned in Western India. A few children were saved by the benevolent efforts of COL. WALKER when in India; but since his return, the very families among whom the horrible practice had ceased, have again returned to the work of murder; not one survives. I have this from the highest authority. And I have just learned, that in and around Benares, infanticide is practised to a horrible extent. stition, many mothers, in fulfilment of "Instigated by the demon of supera vow entered into for the purpose of procuring the blessing of children, drown their first-born in the Brumhůpootrů, and other rivers in India. When the child is two or three years old, the mother takes it to the river, encourages it to enter, as though about to bathe it, but suffers it to pass into the midst of the current, when she abandons it, and stands an inactive spectator, beholding the struggles, and hearing the screams, of her perishing infant! At Saugur casting their living offspring amongst a island, formerly, mothers were seen number of alligators, and standing to gaze at these monsters quarrelling for their prey, beholding the writhing infant in the jaws of the successful animal, and standing motionless while it was breaking the bones and sucking the blood of the poor innocent! What must be that superstition, which can thus transform a being, whose distinguishing quality is tenderness, into a monster through the forest for its prey! more unnatural than the tiger prowling

"At the annual festival in honour of Muha-Dév, (the great god,) many persons are suspended in the air, by large hooks thrust through the integuments of the back, and swung round for a quarter of an hour, in honour of this deity. I have seen these poor wretches go through this, and the following ceremony, more than once. Others have their sides pierced, and cords are introduced between the skin and the ribs, and drawn backwards and forwards, while these victims of superstition dance through the streets. I have seen others cast themselves from a stage, ten feet from

« PreviousContinue »