Imágenes de páginas

kindness ever on their lips; they have not considered how pure and holy are those principles, how large and extensive that benevolence, how patient, useful, and selfdenying, that whole course of life, to which we are called by the Gospel. They also are Non-doers, though they know it not. And now, lastly, let me ask the reader, whoever he may be, whether he is not of the sect of the Nondoers, though possibly not a member of any of the subdivisions which I have described. We all deceive ourselves in this respect. We do something possibly useful, but by no means proportionate to our abilities and opportunities. We neglect the duty of the hour, in order to apply ourselves to what we say is good, but is not, at present, our most proper work. We select the employments which are most agreeable and light. We, perhaps, exercise the body when we should be girding up the loins of the mind. We gratify our imagination when we should be cultivating our reason. We saunter when we should lead. We read when we should write. We write when we should apply ourselves to some still more selfdenying task. Even ministers of the Gospel, eagerly occupied in the work of evangelizing the world, are not exempt from the necessity of examining whether they are in any degree of the Non-doing sect, whe

ther they fulfil, I mean, the minor and domestic duties, to many o which they are just as solemnly pledged as to the ministerial work itself. Every relative duty of life demands its share of our attention. Very few of us are under a temptation to pass the whole day in listlessness. Our sin consists, for the most part, in our inadequate attention to some of the duties which Providence has set before us, and in our preference of a favourite pursuit. The act, indeed, of teaching others, is often a gratification both to our vanity and indolence. It spares us the task of labouring like COIn Inon men, erects us into censors, and may be the means of preventing our communing with our own hearts; and we who write, as well as those who preach, are exposed to danger of this sort. ... But we must not push our criticisms too far. We may refine and analyze too much. We may also bring into too great suspicion many a real, though imperfect, Christian, by our severity of remark. Let it, therefore, be understood that the object of this paper has been not to delineate living characters, but to guard against approaches to the faults which have been described, and effectually to expose, by strong representations, some not very uncommon kinds of self-deceit.

[ocr errors]


Tothe Editor of the Christian Observer.

It is an old remark, that the nearer *ny human work approaches to Perfection, the more desirable it “comes, that its few remaining *ults should be corrected. Let this be my apology, for presuming !" Point out a defect in the late Dr. *aley's Evidences of Christianity.

In the second volume of that work p. 246, he has occasion to quote a pretty long passage from Crantz's History of Greenland; of . which book he gives us the title at full length. But in the marginal reference for vol. i.j. we ought to read vol. j. Had this, however, been the whole mistake, I should have taken it to be a fault of the press, and

thought no more about it. But in the body of the work, where the author quotes the passage in question, it is asserted, that the historian, in the conclusion of his narrative, could find place for no reflections more encouraging than those which he inserts. Now, how can a passage be said to occur at the conclusion of a historian's narrative, when it is not only at some distance from the end of the first volume, but when there is an entire second volume to come * This is not a trivial fault, or one of small consequence. How it bears upon the doctor's argument shall be mentioned hereafter. But it will be evident to every careful reader, that it is calculated to injure a highly respectable body of Christians, by iving an erroneous and disparaging idea of that branch of their labours, in which they are allowed to have been the most successful. That reader must be ignorant indeed who never heard of the missionary labours of the United Brethren, or Moravians, and that they have had a reasonable share of success. Still I may presume, that thousands of readers of Dr. Paley’s work, never heard their mission in Greenland particularly specified, before they met with the doctor's quotation from the printed history. Now, what must all those readers infer from that passage 2 What can they inser, but that the United Brethren, after labouring for several years in Greenland, with exemplary zeal, fortitude, and patience, were under the necessity of abandoning the attempt in despair : Yet how very different is the matter of fact? A few years after the period, to which the paragraph quoted by Dr. Paley refers, the conversion of Greenlanders, by means of the United Brethren, commenced. Already in the first volume of the history, the conversion of several individuals is related ; and the work of conversion, thus begun, continues improving throughout the whole narrative of the second volume, which ends with a period

at which two flourishing congrega-.

tions of believing Greenlanders had been settled by the Brethren. The work, indeed, continues at thisday to be accompanied with God’s blessing; and there are at present three congregations of Christians, consisting of about 300 souls each, gathered from the Greenland nation ; so that, besides those who have departed this life, nearly a thousand living Greenlanders have been brought to the saving knowledge of the Gospel, through the endeavours of the Brethren, Nay, by the united attempts of the Brethren and the Danish Lutheran missionaries, the whole western coast of Greenland, formerly pagan, may now be considered as christianized; the majority of the inhabitants being no longer heathen. And is that a trifting error, which tends to throw a veil of concealment over facts so consoling to all those, who are praying with the earnestness of sincerity to our Father in heaven, “Thy kingdom come * The question now arises, does | not this change of circumstances * render the whole quotation useless Or, in other words, had Dr. Paley not mistaken the matter, would he have introduced the subject of Greenland at all What he would have done, I will not pretend to divine; that he might still have introduced it, and introduced it with increased advantage to his argument, I will venture to assert, and will now proceed to shew. The nature of Dr. Paley's argument will best appear from his own words: “From the widely disproportionate effects, which attend the preaching of modern missionaries of Christianity, compared with what followed the ministry of Christ and his apostles, under circumstances either alike, or not so unlike as to account for the difference, a conclusion is fairly drawn, in support of what our histories deliver concerning them, viz. that they possessed means of conviction, which we have not; that they

had proofs to appeal to, which we want ’’ Upon this argument, the quotation from the History of Greenland, in its present mistaken state, bears thus: The zeal and patience of the Moravian missionaries in Greenland have never been surpassed, perhaps never equalled in modern times; yet with all their efforts, they ef. fected, by their own confession, nothing. The apostles, by one discourse, converted three thousand. Therefore, the latter possessed means vastly superior to those of the forlanet. * I will now state the result of the same quotation, as it ought to have stood; and then appeal to every candid reader, whether the doctor's argument does not rather gain than lose by the change. The zeal and patience of the Moravian missionaries have never been surpassed, perhaps never equalled in modern times. And accordingly, their success is well known to have been superior to that of most other protestant missionaries, as will farther appear to all who will take the trouble to read the second volume of Crantz's History of Greenland. Yet, even they, with difficulty, in the space of nearly four score years, converted about one half of the number whom the apostles converted with ease in the lapse of one day. Can any man then doubt, that the latter possessed means of conviction which the former had not; that the one had proofs to appeal to which the others wanted 2 The first of these two statements, by assuming too much, and more than is true, in fact proves nothing. It assumes, that no modern missionary attempts, however zealous, can succeed: it assumes this, by producing an instance, in which the best directed, and, according to common report, most successful efforts, did nothing. This is an assumption, however, which is happily contradicted by the evidence of facts. The second statement institutes

an accurate comparison between the best modern missionary endeavours and the preaching of the apostles: a comparison, which, being carried almost to the precision of calculation, establishes the advantage on the part of the apostles with all the evidence and strength of demonstration. It is difficult for me to dismiss this subject, without indulging in one farther inquiry: and that is, by what fatality a mistake of this nature could possibly be committed This question I find it impossible to answer, without fixing disingenuousness, or a degree of negligence little short of criminality, somewhere. It will give me singular pleasure, if any of your readers can help me to an explanation of the phenomenon, free from a necessity so painful to Christian charity. Were Dr. Paley an ordinary writer, or had he been a man of ordinary information, I should conclude at once, that he never read the History of Greenland at all; but that, chancing to stumble upon the passage, which he has quoted, and finding it suited to his purpose, he entered it in his common-place book; in doing which he actually mistook the first for the second volume. And perhaps, after all, it will not be easy to give a solution of the difficulty more probable than this. But surely an English classical author like the late Dr. Paley, conscious that he was writing for posterity, not to say for eternity, ought not to have quoted any work, without reading at least so much of it as would suffice to make him master of the full scope of the author. Yet, I confess, there is something in the whole passage which looks not unlike a cool design to disparage, by misrepresentation, the missionary labours of the United Brethren. I know that there are persons, so bigoted to their own peculiarities, that, like the mistaken apostle in the Gospel, they would fain hinder others from casting out devils in the name of Jesus, merely because they follow not after them. I have good reason, however, for acquitting Dr. Paley of such weakness. If, therefore, there be any mixture of disingenuousness in the case, I should suppose, that some designing acquaintance of the late doctor, gave him the whole passage in its present form; which he, charitably thinking no evil, and finding it to contain a strong cerroboration of his argument, inserted without examination.

The History of Greenland, to which I have so often ailuded, is undoubtedly a work highly interesting to every lover of piety and of missionary labours. But it is so wretchedly translated, (not, however, from the Dutch, as Dr. Paley says, but fiem the German), and, especially in the second volume, so full of barbarisms, tautology, and useless repetition, that it is no wonder an elegant scholar should not be eager to read it. It would be well if some competent person would publish a judicious abridgment of it: a thing the more to be desired, as the book has long been out of print. The late celebrated Dr. Johnson, however, took the trouble to read this history quite through, with all its faults; and it is perhaps one of the strongest proofs of that #. man's predominant piety, that, astidious critic as he was, he yet declared, when he had finished the reading, that though the language was certainly far from inviting, yet there was that in the spirit of the work, which had completely called off his attention from critical examination, to fix it upon the narrative; and that, upon the whole, there were not many books which he had read with greater delight.


To the Editor of the ChristianObserver.

Perhaps you may gratify your correspondent Orozo, as well as many of your readers, by the insertion of the following account of the Waha

bies, or Wahabies, of whom very little is known in England; it is taken from the travels of Mirza Abu Taleb Khan, lately translated from the Persian, and written in the year 1803. TheoGN is.

“During my residence at Kerbela, I endeavoured to collect as much information respecting the laws and religion of the Watlabies, as I could procure. I learned, that the founder of this sect was named Abd al Vehab (''The Servant of the Bestower of all Benefits'). He was born in the neighbourhood of Hilla, on the banks of the Euphrates, but brought up as an adopted son, by a person of some consequenee, named Ibrahim, in the district of Nejid. During his youth, he was considered as superior to all his contemporaries, for his ready wit, penetration, and retentive memory. He was also of a very liberal disposition; and whenever he received any money from his patron, he distributed it immediately amongst his inferiors. After having acquired the common principles of education, and a little knowledge of the law, he travelled to lspahan, late the capital of Persia, where he studied for some time, under the most celebrated masters of that city. He then travelled to Khorassan, and thence to Ghizni; whence he proceeded to Irac: and, after sojourning there some time, he returned home. About the year of the Hejira 1 17 | (A. D. 1757–8), he began to publish his new doctrines. At first, the fundamental principles of his religion were the same as those of the celebrated Imam Abu Hanifa, but in his exposition of the text he differed considerably. After a short time, he drew his neck from the collar of subserviency, and promulgated doctrines entirely new. He accused the whole Mohammedan church of being associators (giving partners to God), infidels, and idolaters. He even accused them of being worse than idolaters, • For these,” said he, * in the

time of any calamity, forsake their idols, and address their prayers directly to God; but the Mussulmans, in their greatest distress, never go beyond Mohammed, or Aly, or some of the saints. The common people, who worship at the tombs of the prophet and his descendants, and who solicit these persons to be their mediators with God, are, in fact, guilty of idolatry daily: for no nation was ever so stupid as to address an image as their God, but merely as the representation of one of his attributes, or of one of their intercessors with the Deity. Thus the Jews and Christians, who have pictures and images of Moses, and of Jesus Christ, never associate them with God, but occasionally address their prayers to them as mediators.” By these arguments, he by degrees collected a number of followers, and proceeded to plunder and destroy the tombs and shrines of the prophet, and of all the saints. By these means he acquired much wealth and fame, and, previous to his death, was possessed of great power and authority. He was succeeded by his son Mohammed, who, being blind, remains always at home, and has assumed the title of Imam, and supreme pontiff of their religion. He employs, as his deputy, a person named Abd al Aziz, who was an adopted brother of his father, and who is of an immense stature, with a most powerful voice. This man is eighty years of age, but retains all the vigour of youth, and predicts that he shall not die till the Wahaby religion is perfectly established all over Arabia. This person waits on Mohammed twice every week, and consults with him on all points of religion, and receives his orders for detaching armies to different quarters. Their power and influence is so much increased, that all Arabia may be said to be in subjection to them; and their followers have such reverence for them, that, when going into battle, they solicit passPorts to the porters at the gates of *radise, which they suspend round

their necks, and then advance against the enemy with the greatest confidence. “ Although the Wahabies have collected immense wealth, they still retain the greatest simplicity of manners, and moderation in their desires. They sit down on the ground without ceremony, content themselves with a few dates for their food, and a coarse large cloak serves them for clothing and bed for two or three years. Their horses are of the genuine Nejid breed, of well known pedigrees; none of which will they permit to be taken out of the country. Except the cities of Muscat, Mecca, and Medineh, the Vallabies are in possession of all Arabia. For many years they refrained from attacking the holy cities: first, on account of their respect for the house of God; and, secondly, from their attachment to the shereef of Mecca, who professed to be of their religion: thirdly, they derived much emolument from the pilgrims who passed through their dominions. But lately, at the instigation of the Turks, Abd al Aziz sent a large army under the command of his son Saoud, into the sacred territory, who, after burning and laying waste the country, entered Mecca, and broke down many of the tombs and shrines; after which he proceeded to Jedda, and laid siege to it. The shereef immediately took refuge on board a ship anchored in the Red Sea; and the people of the town, having agreed to pay a large sum of money, the Wahabies proceeded to Oman. Soon after their arrival in that province, they were joined by a brother of the Sultan of Muscat, who embraced the Wahaby religion, and assumed the title of Imam al Mussulmeen (Pontiff of the Mussulmans), and soon compelled all the inhabitants of the open country to follow his example, and embrace the new faith. They have, in consequence, thrown off their allegiance to the Sultan, whose authority is now limited to the city of Mus

« AnteriorContinuar »