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There is a line beyond which the people of England will not suffer their civil and religious rights to be invaded. They are contented to be led, and it ought to be the pride and happiness, as it is the first duty of government, to lead them wisely; more especially in whatever respects their religion, by upholding that venerable Church with which so much of their ancient glory and moral happiness is associated. Like children they will be sure to err and go astray in this respect, if not guided aright; either they will become utterly indifferent to their highest interests, or they will embrace the rankest fanaticism that may happen to be promulgated among them; and yet they must be so guided as that they may see that their guides are deserving of their confidence.— Pp. 116, 117.
Did our limits allow, we should be tempted to transcribe the whole sixteenth letter, which treats of the Church Missionary Society. We cannot but feel a satisfaction in finding our views of that society in perfect harmony with the independent opinions of this judicious author. And we are no less pleased to find that our facts have the confirmation of one who had the means of affording experimental testimony. Some passages we cannot withhold from our readers.
You are perhaps aware, that these missionaries are sent out by the Evangelical party in England, on which account they are hardly justified, as it seems to me, in assuming the appellation of Church missionaries, because every one not acquainted with the fact, would be led to suppose that they were sent out by the Church of England in her corporate capacity, which is not the case. On the contrary, the Bishops, with one or two exceptions, withhold their countenance from this society, confining themselves to the old orthodox church societies “for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts,” and “for Promoting Christian Knowledge,” which have now been in existence for upwards of a century, and have been eminently useful, though they have not obtruded themselves on public notice in the manner that it has been the fashion for the new societies to do. This being the case, it was disingenuous and unfair on the part of the soidisant Church Missionary Society thus to assume a misnomer, for the very purpose, it would seem, of imposing on the ignorant.-P. 170.
We have, too, a little incidental notice of Bishop Heber's "affection” for some of their proceedings.
One objectionable thing in these missionaries is that they mix themselves up with the various sectaries, and seem to consider themselves as belonging more to them than to the Church of England. Even Bishop Heber reproved them in a published letter, for this promiscuous association, when he visited the Colony; but still it does not appear that matters are much changed in this respect. His lordship's wish was to raise them in their own, and in the public estimation, though, I fear, he has not succeeded in doing so. So far have they carried their irregularities, that I have known an instance of a church missionary officiating in a Wesleyan chapel, while the Wesleyan preacher formed one of the congregation.Pp. 173, 174.
Surely the Society at home cannot be aware of the irregularity of its foreign proceedings; such irregularity indisputably proves the superior advantages of a really Church Missionary Society, under the control of the ecclesiastical authorities, and responsible for its conduct. But is the Society wholly devoid of blame? Is there not a leaning to liberalism which compromises its character, and stimulates the purses of Dissenters through their expectations? We are sorry, deeply sorry to read such a passage as the following. The most bigotted sectarians might well be ashamed to countenance what is here stated to be sanctioned by a society of Churchmen.
Even at home, I observe, that men of the most opposite and conflicting opinions attend and take a part in the public meetings of the Society; and while this is the case, it can hardly be expected that the ramifications of the Society abroad should pursue a different line of conduct. I may give it as an instance of their indifference to the approbation of the respectable part of the British community, that an advertisement on the cover of one of their periodical pamphlets, announces-—"The Ladies' Magazine, or the Evangelical Museum for 1827, with a portrait of the Rev. J. Pratt, B.D.;" and containing, among other things, “a text of Scripture for each day's meditation, and a correct list of places of worship, in and near the metropolis, where the gospel is preached.” • Can any thing be more low, contemptible, and impudent, than this? were I a lady, and did I consider the thing worth my notice at all, I should feel my indignation roused at the insult thus offered to my understanding, -as if the devotions of the sex were to be guided by the editor of a pocket-book! or, as if it was only weak woman who could be gulled into the belief that all the clergymen of the Church of England do not preach the gospel! or, as if a female was so little able to judge for herself of the comparative merits of preachers, that she must be furnished with a list (and a correct list forsooth) of the churches, chapels, conventicles, tabernacles, and meeting-houses, where alone in the opinion of the aforesaid editor) the gospel can be heard !
At all events, the secretary of the Church Missionary Society may be assured that he does not raise himself in the estimation of men of sense, by thus lending his name and portrait to such worthless publications.—Pp. 174, 175.
This letter concludes with a very clever comparative sketch of Bishops Middleton and Heber.
But how, it may be said, advance the means of salvation in India ? We are happy to find our acute author on this subject in full coincidence with ourselves. Indeed, we cannot see how any Christian, approving Bishop Heber's proceedings, can possibly entertain another opinion. That illustrious prelate clearly saw that union was the first instrument in the work, and the semblance of union the next; that the slightest appearance of dissention or difference was absolute and irretrievable ruin. He therefore made large concessions to this principle, concessions which, in other circumstances, he would not have made, nor have been justified in making, but which, in his existing situation, 'were an imperative duty. Now let any Christian who approves this conduct (and concerning it we believe there is little variety of opinion) ask himself, whether he is not bound to practise what he approves? If this were done, we should see the Indian Missionaries waving their sectarian peculiarities, and conforming to the Church of England. In a field like India we must appear as the soldiers of Christ, not as those of Wesley, Calvin, &c.; and if one form of Christianity is here necessary to accomplish the work, it cannot be long doubtful what form is to be preferred : that which has already a settled, authorized, active power in operation, and which both in numbers and influence must necessarily take the lead.
That the necessity of this sacrifice on the part of dissenters and
irregular societies is great, our author shows by proving from experience, and from local peculiarities, that there is no human probability of effecting any considerable conversion in India, except through the discipline of a regular church. The author also remarks (what we think reflection and matter of fact will show to be true) that missionaries would most prudently address themselves to the higher and more educated classes. The objection has not escaped our author, that Christ preached the gospel to the poor, and that his example ought in all things to be followed. The fact is, the two cases are not the same. Our Lord preached to the Jews only, who were admirably prepared for the reception of the gospel by a dispensation constructed to that very end. The soil had been cleared and dressed to receive the seed. The apostles who laboured in the Gentile vineyard acted differently, and addressed themselves principally to the educated classes. They knew that heathenism was religion only with the vulgar ; in the educated heathen they had the fallow soil to cultivate ; in the uneducated they had a stubborn crop of weeds and brambles to eradicate, before they could break up the ground. They knew too that authority often is the most persuasive of arguments, and that where the opinions of leaders can be influenced, those of communities will not linger. “Have any of the rulers of the Pharisees believed on him?” is always an influential question. It is remarkable that the great miracle wrought by St. Paul at Lystra produced no conversion : it was interpreted upon heathen principles—“the gods are come down to us in the likeness of men." In this case the apostles were necessitated to remonstrate ; yet how little their remonstrance availed, the candid historian of the Acts informs us,-“ With these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.” If these observations hold of heathenism in general, much more do they bear upon that of India, which is compelled with all the urgency of authority, and apostasy from which is attended with the most ruinous temporal consequences.
The Bible Society also engages our author's attention ; and he is decidedly of opinion that this Society has done rather harm than good in India. A Jew might be converted by reading the New Testament: indeed, if he be candid, it can hardly be otherwise :-a Mahometan might, perhaps ; but the conversion of a heathen by the mere perusal of a Bible would be an intellectual miracle. The Bible defers not in the slightest degree to heathenism: it is a continued insult to every thing heathen. A heathen, and especially a systematic heathen, would regard it with horror, as the most awful impiety. Such, we know, was the actual impression of the ancient heathen world. The heathens of the primitive ages were converted by miracle, and by discourses judiciously adapted to their prejudices, so as neither to countenance nor to wound them. St. Paul became all things to all men, that by all means he might save some. To the Areopagus he appealed from their own institutions and their own poets, and not from the decalogue and the prophecies. A judicious missionary, while he would constantly take the Bible for the well-spring of all the truths which he had to inculcate, would not obtrude all those truths at once, but introduce them gradually and seasonably. “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” The bare mention of the slaughter of the fatted calf, in the parable of the prodigal, is said to have been so offensive to brahminical prejudices, as to have compelled a zealous missionary to omit it in his scriptural readings. Let the Bible be once pronounced by the Brahmins "pariah,” and what is the hope which any Church can reasonably entertain of making proselytes, so long as she does (which she is bound to do) avow the Bible the foundation of her doctrines ?
But the most melancholy and not the least efficient of the causes which retard the operations of Christianity in the East is, doubtless, the moral state of the Christian population. Bishop Middleton observed that professed believers in India were acting like the most hardened infidels. To that statement it is impossible to make any addition. This most fearful calamity might have been averted had an ecclesiastical establishment been instituted in India at an earlier period. But this is now mere matter of regret. The first aim of the Indian Church, we think, should be the enlightenment of the European population. The Hindoos are ready enough to learn and adopt our arts and manufactures, because they are convinced of the superiority of these. Let our religion produce its legitimate fruits, and they will be desirous to become acquainted with this also.
The fact is, the Home Administration of India bas not in many respects acted upon christian principles. We cannot, for instance, reconcile their toleration of Suttees to any principle of Christianity. This is said to be a deference to religious scruples. We are very ready to admit that no civil magistrate has any right to interfere with opinions purely speculative; but no religious scruples, real or pretended, should restrain the christian magistrate from the punishment of great criminalities. Can it be supposed that, if a sect should arise in this country, professing the principles of Brahma, such atrocities would be permitted? There is not a Christian in the country, whatever his denomination, who would not stand by the magistrate in suppressing them. Why, then, should we yield to the religious scruples of our Indian fellow-subjects, which we would not tolerate among ourselves? The motive, it is evident, is PEAR, -base Fear. But if the Suttees be a great and positive crime, the only Christian
mode is to suppress them by the strong arm of justice, and trust to the God of Justice for the disposal of the consequences. We are not apprehensive of any danger, and we are confirmed in our opinion by the following sensible and gratifying remarks of our author :- .
The British Government has, at all events, nothing to apprehend from its native subjects, in decreeing the abolition of institutions and customs, however ancient, which are irreconcilable with truth, humanity, and justice. The general order of things must be reversed, as it respects the people of the East. In Europe, we begin by imparting good principles, from which we expect good practice will arise ; but here we should begin by peremptorily ordering the good practice, to which no serious objection will be offered if it is really beneficial, and to which the people will easily be reconciled as soon as they begin to feel its advantages.—Pp. 187, 188.
The Romish question is treated by our author with a concise but masterly hand. His arguments (if any thing could be now hoped from argument) we would commend to those in whose hands our destinies are now placed. We are sorry to see our author, who is so decided an enemy to modern self-styled liberality, calling the Romanists “Catholics ;" but with this blemish noticed, we leave him to our readers.
It is enough for us that the Catholics cannot, in the nature of things, be the friends of the British Constitution in Church as well as State, nor to the Protestant ascendancy as by law established: and, in all parliamentary discussions, where the interest of the Protestant Church and the Protestant succession were concerned, the Catholic members would, as a matter of course, vote against them : for as Southey again truly observes, “whenever a national and a sectarian duty come in competition, the national one is that which goes to the wall;" and if the votes of the Catholic members were added to those of the dissenters, the deists, the liberals, neutrals, &c. already in parliament, there would be tremendous odds against the Church, and little chance of her standing long against such numerous opponents.
It seems to me besides, that if you throw open to the Catholics both Houses of Parliament, the Cabinet, the judicial bench, and the highest state and executive offices, you cannot consistently exclude them from the throne itself; for if once you admit and act on the principle, that religious opinions are not to subject people to civil disabilities, (for that is what the Catholics and their Protestant supporters contend for) then, I say, you cannot, in reason, exclude the heirapparent from the throne because he happens to have become a Papist; nor can you hinder him from marrying a popish princess; and then we must arraign the conduct of our ancestors in 1688, who excluded James II, for his religion ; and if all this is conceded, we are just where we were before the Revolution, almost indeed before the Reformation; and we might, in all probability, have to go over the same ground again, without having derived any benefit from experience and history.
I can only think of one way by which Catholics might be admitted to seats in Parliament with safety to the Constitution, and that is, that they should not be permitted to give any vote on questions immediately affecting the interests of the Protestant establishment; a committee of the upper house being appointed to decide what questions really did or did not affect such interests. The Catholics themselves could hardly object to so reasonable a proposal, and in this way all parties might be brought to agree. But whether this plan be feasible or not, it is the duty of England to take care of what it cost her so much to acquire.
It is idle to talk about the rights of Catholics, since no man, or body of men, can have a right to any thing which, in the opinion of the community to which