« AnteriorContinuar »
Colonel Malcolm, in p. 469 of his work, thus expresses himself: “ The experience we have of those converts to Christianity, which have been made, since the first intercourse between Europe and india, does not afford much encouragement to make us persevere in this design”. These converts are but little acquainted with the purity of the faith they profess; and so far from being that example in their lives, which, if they were sincere and enlightened followers of our religion, they ought to be, they would appear to a common observer (who was uninformed of their conversion) to be a set of men who had agreed to separate themselves from the other natives of India, in order that they might be freed from a number of restraints, with regard to diet and morality, by which the different tribes of both Hindoos and Mahomedans are bound. There are, no doubt, exceptions to this observation; but it is applicable to the great mass of Christians in India, who are, in consequence, the very dregs of the community; not only from their station in life, but their morals and conduct. Under such circumstances, it must occur that knowledge should precede Christianity; and if we were at liberty, from our political obligations to those whom we govern, to give the authority of government in support of the attempts made to convert our Indian subjects, and at the same time o secure that those attempts would not endanger our safety, we are not yet arrived at the point where our labours ought to commence.” These are sweeping accusations and assumptions; but it will be perceived that they rest altogether upon the ipse dirit of Colonel Malcolm. What the political obligations are (alluded to towards the close of this extraordinary passage), which preclude us from communicating the blessings of Christianity to our In* Namely, that of introducing the Chrisian religion into India.
dian subjects, is not stated; but a reference is made to “the authority of government,” in a manner that would seem to convey an insinuation, that it is the object of those who seek to disseminate Christianity in India, to secure, in some shape or other, the forcible interference of the influence and power of government in their favour. Such an insinuation ought not to have appeared in the pages of this author. Neither ought he to have given his sanction to such indiscriminate, and, I must say, disingenuous abuse of native Christians, without producing his authorities, in order that their value might be estimated; or, at least, without in-T forming his readers that his opinions were formed, not from the vulgar outcry raised against Christians, but from an intimate personal knowledge of the circumstances of the case. Those who have visited India well know, that wi.h the bulk of Europeans residing there, and more especially with the younger and more ignorant portion of them, it is no uncommon practice, whenever the conversation turns upon native Christians, to pour forth against them coarse epithets of abuse, while at the same time little or nothing is known of those who are thus traduced. So prevalent indeed, and of such long standing, has been this unseemly practice, that at length men, whose acuteness could not be imposed on for an instant on other subjects, bring themselves upon this to take fictions for reality, and, without examination, to place a firm belief in the truth of the mistakes and mis-statements which are thus circulated. Now I do venture to assert, without the least fear of contradiction on the part of any intelligent and impartial person, who may have had fair opportunities, from attentive personal observation, of forming a right judgment of the conduct and character of the great body of the native converts to Christianity, that the representation made of them in the passage above quoted, and in certain other writings, is materially, if not wholly, at variance with truth. I do not mean, and I trust that I shall not be suspected of meaning, that there is in the present instance any designed misrepresentation: far from it. I have already expressed my respect for Colonel Malcolm ; and I might have added, esteem and regard. I know him too well, not to know, that he is incapable of making any statement which he does not believe to be true. The great body of the native Christians of India are to be found in the southern portion of the Peninsula, on both coasts: namely, in the provinces extending from the river Coleroon to Cape Comorin, on the eastern side; and within the territories of the Rajahs of Travancore and Cochin, on the western side. Now, as Colonel Malcolm never, at any period, resided in these districts; nor, as I am inclined to think, even visited any part of this interesting tract of country; his remarks cannot be presumed to have any application, on the ground of personal knowledge, to the Christian communities in those regions. But he might have supplied his own want of the opportunity of observation, by reference to the authentic and incontrovertible evidence of the late Mr. Swartz, with respect to the numerous converts of Tanjore, &c.; and also to the authentic testimony borne by Drs. Kerr and Buchanan to the state of Christianity on the coast of Malabar. Colonel Malcolm, it may be said, must have seen Christian converts in other parts of India. Every one who may have visited the great towns of Calcutta and Madras knows, that, like other great towns, they abound in dissolute and profligate characters; amongst whom may be found Christians, as well as Hindoos and Mahomedans. But there would appear nearly as much fairness in a nuan's forming an estimate of the morality of the inhabitants of Great Britain from the sensual and depraved Practices of the prostitutes and
pickpockets of the metropolis, as in his judging of the mass of the Christians of Tanjore and Tinnevelly, by the conduct of the miserable victims of vice, who call themselves Christians, in the streets and alleys of Madras or Calcutta. After what has been observed, it may perhaps be deemed superfluous to make any comment upon such stale phrases as, “dregs of the community " or upon the singular charge brought against the Christians, “ of their agreeing to separate themselves from the other natives of India, in order that they might be freed from a number of restraints, with regard to diet and morality, by which the different tribes of both Hindoos and Mahomedans are bound.” What the moral restraints are that tie up the Hindoo or Mahomedan from the practical indulgence and commission of the grossest and most depraved sensuality and vice, provided certain stated ablutions and prostrations be observed, I am yet to learn. The morality of Hindoos and Mahomedans ! But I need not, Mr.Editor, occupy your time, or that of your readers, upon this subject, further than by refering them and you to the letter published in your last number, which is well calculated to settle this point for ever beyond dispute. It would be equally superfluous, as it appears to me, to say any thing on the objections advanced by Colonel Malcolm against the policy of the French in India *, under which they promoted native Christians to situations of trust; as he has not shewn that any injurious consequences flowed from it. So far indeed is it from being true, that this policy was injurious or unwise, that, on the contrary, the history of that nation in India assords a strong experimental testimony to its wisdom. It is, however, the present situation of the Portuguese in India that seems to this author, and to others who have written on the same side,
* Page 471.
to furnish a triumphant corroboration of all their arguments. “ The Portuguese hastened, if they did not cause, their downfal, by that bigoted spirit with which they endeavoured to introduce their religion *.” I am no advocate for bigotry in any case or in any shape; far less for the bigotry with which the Portuguese acted in India towards the Syrian Christians, and many other natives with whom they came in contact. But I deny that their downfal was occasioned, or even hastened, by those proceedings, however impolitic. I may, with your permission, hereafter examine this question more in detail; in the mean time, I am desirous of adding some high authorities to those produced in the important letter in your last number, in confirmation of the remarkable fact that the natives of India are, in the judgment of well-informed and unprejudiced men, unworthy of all confidence. The first to which I shall allude is that of the present President of the Board of Controul, the Earl of Buckinghamshire; for during the whole period of his residence in India, as Governor of Fort St. George, he (in like manner as Lord Cornwallis) “never reposed any trust in any one of them, nor placed a single individual, either Hindjo or Mahomedan, about his person, above the rank of a menial servant.” Lord Clive also (now Earl Powis) the successor of the Earl of Buckinghamshire in the government of Madras, for four years, trod firmly and conscientiously in the steps of his predecessor. The author of the letter in your last number might have farther fortified his position by reference to the conduct pursued by that illustrious statesman, the Marquis Wellesley; for this noble man not only discouraged by his example and influence any confidential employment of natives, but he made it a fundamental principle of his administration, in the selection of Company’s servants for office, to give the preference to * Page 470.
those who were understood to be th” least likely to admit natives to thei" confidence. To this shall only be added a quotation of one paragraph from a dispatch, addressed, a few years back, by a public officer of the government of Madras to the governor. “The duplicity and corruption so prevalent in native Durbars, and among certain classes of the natives of India, in every part of the Peninsula, have not escaped the indignant notice and reprobation of moralists and statesmen. But in no part of the world, perhaps, can there be found men to whose habits and affections the practice of vice, through all its debasing, loathsome, and hideous gradations, seems so familiar and dear as to the natives of this country. This may in some degree be ascribed to the perverted system of their domestic relations, under which the whole circle of the social charities, and of the parental ties and affections, that in other (Christian) countries, connect and unite neighbour with neighbour, parent with child, and children with their
parents, have here no existence; neither an habitation nor a name.” " I am, Yours, &c. AM iCU.S.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
I AM an old man, living upon the borders of Lincolnshire; and hearing that you sometimes give your advice upon religious subjects, I am emboldened to write to you. Ever since Easter, I have had my mind much perplexed. Happening to walkthrough a corn field about that time with an old acquaintance of mine who lives in Wales, and pays me an annual visit, I observed that a little sun might be of much benefit to the corn. The sunl replied my friend; of what advantage will the sun be to the corn ? Have you lived so long in the world, and have not discarded those childish notions concerning
the sun's ripening the corn? Are we not told in the Scripture, that ‘the earth brings forth fruit of itself: first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear?’”—Sir, I knew not what to answer. I had always thought that the sun had a very great influence in the growth of corn, but this strong text staggered me. However, it would i. given me very little uneasiness, if my old Welch friend had not proceeded thus:—“It is precisely the same in the soul of man. There are some foolish and enthusiastic people, who maintain that a man cannot of himself bring forth fruit unto holiness; that grace must give him good desires, and work with him when he has those good desires. But this notion is highly absurd. Is not man commanded to keep the whole law perfectly; and would he be commanded to perform what he had not power of himself to perform He must have the whole power or none, and he clearly has the whole power. Hence he is not enjoined to obey a part of the Divine law, but to submit to the whole, and to continue to keep it to his life's end. It is with man as it is with the earth— the earth brings forth fruit of itself, and so does man—and this very text is quoted by the fathers, to prove that man has power to do good of himself.”—I confess, sir, that this opinion of my old Welch acuaintance, supported by that of the athers, gave me much uneasiness. Under these doubts, I repaired to the house of a near neighbour, celebrated for his respectability, learning, and conviviality. I informed him, that my mind was distracted with some painful doubts, and added, that if he could not relieve my scruples, it was my intention to write to the Christian Observer upon the subject. “The Christian Observer,” said he, “is a review full of heterodoxy and defamation. They have defamed part of my own family. You.
o On the Influence of the Sun on Vegetation.
remember my brother-in-law, that good old clergyman, now no more, who found it conducive to his health to keep a couple of greyhounds, and who displayed such virtuous and unshaken resolution in subduing hoards of poachers. The Editors of the Christian Observer have held up the memory of that good man, as well as that of many other excellent persons, to ridicule. Let me advise you to have nothing to say to them— but what are vour difficulties 2 ” “I am desirous of knowing,”I said, “whether the sun’s influence is necessary to make the earth bring forth fruit.” “Why,” said he, “there is that very strong text (Mark iv. 28)., “The earth bringeth forth fruit of itself: first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear.’ That, sir, it must be confessed, is a very strong text: but precious fruits are said to be brought forth by the sun in another place of Scripture; and there is reason to believe, from experience, that there is some truth in this declaration. Now how shall we reconcile this 2 There can be but one way: the earth does her part first, and the sun does his part afterwards. The earth brings forth, first the blade, and then the ear; and afterwards the sun does his part, ripening the full corn in the ear.” Pray, Mr. Observer, inform me (for I cannot help writing to you, in defiance of your turn for uncharitable censures) whether this interpretation be true or not. I really am still disposed to think, that the earth is in itself, and would ever remain, an inert and sluggish mass, but for the solar influence. Pray let me have your opinion speedily, and inform me whether it is really true, that the fathers quote Mark iv. 28, to prove that man has power of himself, independently of preventing grace. -
REVIEW OF NEW PUBLICATIONS.
Remarks on the Refutation of Calvinism, by George Tomline, D. D. F.R.S. Lord Bishop of Lincoln, and Dean of St. Paul's, London. By Thomas Scott, Rector of Aston Sandford, Bucks. 2 vols. 8vo. London, Seeley. 1811.
We know not whether the Right Rewerend Author of the “Refutation of Calvinism,” really persuaded himself that he had at length so completely subverted the system he had opposed, as for ever to silence its advocates, and to render every idea of its restoration hopeless. We know how far the vanity of authors in general is apt to lead them in similar expectations; and the title of the Bishop's work certainly tends to fa. your the probability of such a supposition respecting the effect of his controversial labours. We should not, therefore, be surprised to find, that, with the assistance of the numerous admirers, who both in public and in private can never fail to F. the success of episcopal poemics, some complacent thoughts of a final triumph over Calvinism bad actually entered his Lordship's mind. However this may be, it was undoubtedly foreseen, by all who are acquainted with the numbers and the respectability of those who in various ways are included amongst the objects of this formidable attack, that more than one reply would be made to some, at least, of its numerous points. Nor was it at all more difficult to foretel, that all that was solid and beautiful in that spiritual temple, which the author of the Refutation, mistaking it, we doubt not, for the fortress of an enemy, had with such an unsparing hand laboured to deface and overturn, would be speedily reinstated in its pristine form and grandeur, and shine forth with renovated lustre. Let us Wot, however, be understood as in
tending to assert, that Calvinism, g
properly and peculiarly so called, is a necessary and constituent part of this spiritual edifice. It may, perhaps, be so esteemed by some; though we have certainly never so represented it. But we need scarcely remind our readers, that under this proscribed and odious name, the Bishop of Lincoln has, we are entirely willing to believe undesignedly, attacked some of the fundamental points of that faith “which was once delivered to the saints.” It is for these only, as we have osten declared, that we feel ourselves bound “earnestly to contend ;” and although the author of the work now before us, has extended his defence of the doctrines assailed in the Refutation, to those which are more justly styled Calvinistic; even he declares, that had that publication attacked those tenets, erclusively, his “Remarks” would probably not have been obtruded on the public notice. Had no other similar intimations, of that undistinguishing opposition to what the Bishop of Lincoln is pleased to term “Calvinism,” been given to the world, than that which is contained in this declaration of Mr. Scott, it would be sufficient, we think, to convey to his Lordship's mind some suspicion of the soundness of his statements. But more direct and intelligible proofs of this kind are already before the public *; and, in addition to our former observations, when reviewing the Bishop's work +, we trust that in the course of the present article we shall make it still more clearly appear that he has greatly mistaken and misrepresented the sentiments and the persons he under