Page images
PDF
EPUB

Abstract of the proceedings of the Bible Society, held at St. Ano

drew's Hall, on l'hersday week, September 29th. The Lord Bishop of Norwich opened the business. He said. We are met together for the third time on an occasion which can. not fail to interest the affections and understanding of every one who sincerely feels for the private or public happiness of his fellow creatures. The nature and end of the British and Foreign Bible Society, and of those Auxiliary and Branch Societies which, to the honour of this kingdom, are establishing in every part of it, and particularly in Norfolk, are now so well understood by you all, that it would be a waste of time to enter into any explanation of them. I shall therefore content myself with congratulating you áll most cordially on the rapid and almost miraculous success which hath attended this incomparable institution. Recollect for a moment, what but few years since was merely a cloud, little bigger than a man's Hand, is now spread over the whole earth ; enriching with its fërtilizing rains the barren regions of the dreary wilderness. This is no exaggerated: statement; it is a mere matter of fact; as may be seen by any one who will turn to the reports in tñe hands of you

all. And yet there are persons who can object' tu institutions like this ! This is to me a matter of astonishment! and I am still more astonished to hear

any

well-informed protestant Divine assert, that the union of pious and learned Christians of all denominations, for the express purpose of disseminating the bible, which is the religion of protestants, can be injurious to a Protestant Establishment. I say it is surprizing that any man can be found who lds such language! For my own part, I have, before said, and I most solemnly repeat it, that if I could conceive that the union of such Christians, for the purpose of spreading Christianity, could be injurious to that Establishment to which I belong, anđ to which I am most conscientiously attached, I should feel it my duty to relinquish that Establishment; and for this plain reason, that I should think it wrong to sacrifice the end to the means. For the Ecclesiastical Establishment, I wish to have it recollected, is nothing more than the best means, as it appears to as, of promoting and propagating genuine Christianity. This is the definition of the most enlightened philosopher and able divine. of our time, Dr. Paley. To this ciefinition I adhere. But without entering into discussion on a point of this nature, I contend, that. as long as we continue to act in the manner we now do, without strife and vain glory-to acknowledge ourselves coadjutors and not competitors with any old society already established; so long as we kcep to this line of conduct, we may bid defience to the impotent attacks of a few, a very few individuals, who, notwithstanding our inoffensive and truly christian line of conduct, are determined to call darkness lights, and light darkness.”

The impression made upon Mr. Forby's mind by the perụsal of these speeches is that which, we apprehend, will be very generally excited amongst our readers--that they could not have

been.

3

w

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

F. 66

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

been faithfully reported, as, besides several positions which seem
to bear internal evidence of having been greatly distorted,
there are insinuations, couched indeed in general terms, but
hy obvious implication, passing so severe a censure upon a large
body of the Norfolk clergy, that it is scarcely credible his Lord-
ship could have uttered them, in such an assembly, under any
circunistances, and most certainly not under ihose which are
known to exist in the diocese of Norwich. A more unwarrant-
able imputation indeed could scarcely be advanced against those
excellent persons, who, unless specially excepted, must all be re-
garded as ringleaders in the impated delinquency, or one more in.)
jurious to religion; as the inevitable result of a charge of such
* forgetfulness” must be to lower the Clergy, thus stigmatised,
both in the opinion of their own parishiouers and in public esti-
mation.

6. If such an attack," says Mr. were made from a hostie quarter, on very good and respectable men,' who would stand up to repel it with more liberal indignation than your Lord. ship? But

it is not an open enemy that hath done us this dishonour.' We have experience enough to enable us to bear that. We cannot help feeling this blow, whether it come, or only seem to come, from your Lordship’s hand. From no other coulči "it give us equal pain.

Still, however, the limitations of canonical obedience are not to be broken through ; nor can any course be legitiinately taken to wipe off even such an opprobrium as this, sent forth under The assumed sanction of Episcopal authority, till it can be shewn that the projected defence will involve no compromise of this paramount Clerical obligation. Mr. Forby feels as every consistent Clergyman ought to feel upon this delicate subject.

" I cannot even proceed," he says, “ in that introductory statement,” (viz. in what sense and on what grounds he takes upon himself to discuss the speeches in question) “ with confidence and satisfaction, till I shall have made one general observation which claims precedence of all others. In my very first page I must strongly mark a distinction, which will pervade every following one; which I shall always carefully keep in view, and which I am anxious that every one of my readers should as constantly contemplate. I am more especially anxious, that your Lordship should bear it in mind throughout the perusal of this letter, should you deign to peruse it. My distinction is this. What I know, or can reasonably believe, to have been actually delivered by your Lordship, as my Ordinary, on any thing pertaining to religion, whether on its doctrines or its duties, I am bound to receive with deference. Perhaps it may fail to convince me. Possibly I may not fully comprehend it. I may be unable to embrace it with cordial assent, but I must treat it with forbearance. To that, which is given to the public, no one knows from what quarter, or

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

on

on what authority, having your Lordship's name annexed to it, but not bearing the genuine Episcopal image and superscription, I feel no respect, and I know not what should induce nie to affect any. Between these two things, there is as wide a difference as is possible."

Having thus drawn a line, which clearly distinguishes the speeches in question from that authoritative promulgation of admonition and judgment, the "Allocutio Episcopi,” and leaves them fully and freely open to animadversion, Mr. F. proceeds, seriatim, to exonerate himself and his brethren from the inexcusable" forgetfulness" which be conceives to be charged upon them in the former speech, in three successive allegations; introducing the examination with some remarks on the imputed

starting of some good and respectable men at the very nanie of missionary," which, from the limitations of place and circumstances, “ will undoubtedly” (he says) " he understood as especially and (he fears) intentionally applicable” also "to the Clergy."

Ió this part of his pamphlet be very judiciously clears the question from the confusion in which the travelling orators of thie Society studiously involve it, and shews that the ".starting is not at the name of missionary,” but at the instruments eniployed in carrying on the work, and at the subjects on whom ile missionary labour is chiefly to be expended, " the Hottentots, Boshiesnen, and Namasquas," and other Heathens such as those, aniongst whom are not to be found even the first rudiinents of civilization.

Upon this latter objection Mr. F. dwells at considerable length, laying down, as the basis of his argument, thijs position),

Cliristianity was not intended for surage man;" ip support of which he adduces the authority of Lardner, who at ibe end of his Heathen testimonies draws this as one of the conclusions of " bis laborious and accurate investigation of the Christiau laistory and literature of the early ages;" Mr. F. then appeals to the results, which are before the world, of the missionary labous amongst barbarians, both of Papists and Protestants. “ These reports and records," he says, " are easily enough ace cessible ; the more recent ones particularly. They all afford to an attentive and reflecting reader strong proofs of the error and inutility of departing from the Apostolic practice of preaching the Gospel to civilized man only,and shews that the mstitution is directed to objects which there is no reasonable hope of attaining."

Passing to the first alleged item of " forgetfulness,". this very important point, bearing so materially upon the merits of the question, viz. what was the Apostolic practice in this particular comes under Mr. Fi's exaniinaüon, and he shews that

that “

לל

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

the modern missionary project of converting uncirilized nations is so totally discountenanced by the practice of the Apostles, that“ forgetfulness” is to be imputed rather to its, supporters, than to those who withhold their co-operation : he adınits, therefore the propriety of the term, merely suggesting the necessity of inverting its application. But the remark, which claims ulost attention in this part of his strictures, is that called forth by.lle advantage taken of the literal similarity of the terms Missionary and Apostle, to make oratorical use of them as in all respects convertible.

I have met,” he says, “ very lately with a small tract, in which the advocates for the conversion of the Jews, recommend their undertaking to the favour of the public, by pleading that the Apostles were Jews. Undeniably, they were both Mission aries and Jews. To plain uncultivated ninds, the same words will be likely to convey always the same ideas. But surely no man who has been accustomed to reason and discriminate more correctly, can mean to sink the distinction between an Apostle and a wild fanatic, (for some such there must be) who will undertake a modern mission, He cannot mean to identify the Jews before, with the Jews after their rejection ; the Israelites to whom the Messiah immediately came, with the present inhabitants of St. Mary Axe and Duke's Place. To palter in a double sense can never serve a good cause. In these instances, the object is to obtain subscriptions. It is for those who attempt to obtain them thus, to consider whether they be not saying in their hearts, - let us do evil that good may come.?

Purposed misrepresentation to those who are not likely to detect it, is always evil

. The terms Apostle and Jcw, thus used, come under the denomination of taking titles.

The instance of imputed forgetfulness next alleged involves some intricate points of ecclesiastical history, which are rather too gratuitously assumed to give the necessary support to the odious contrast of which they are made the vehicle: Mr. F. therefore examines this charge in detail, correcting, by reference to authorities, two fundamental mistakes, as to the æra of this kingdom's conversion to Christianity, and as to the source from which it descended to us; and pointing out, in two other instances, the irrelevancy of the example to the case which it is cited to illustrate ; and for considering it thus particularly he assigas the following satisfactory reason;

" It is very observable," he says, “ that popular speakers at these oratorical anniversaries let fall many vague and unconsidered generalities. Haranguing copiously and volubly ad captandum, they are apt to disregard all chance of ever being called ud probandun. They often seem to bestow little thought on the correctness of what they address to audiences, of whom they may

Hestes

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

boat the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

TOT

[ocr errors]

presume

presume that the great majority think no farther on the subject than what they hear. To notice such loose and unfounded positions, on ordinary occasions, would be endless and unavailing. But if any thing of this kind be coupled with your Lordship’s ver perable name, in a printed report, it cannot but command the attention of those who do not, as well as those who do, believe the reality of the alleged connection."

We shall not follow Mr. F. through his learned inquiry, but We cannot refrain from giving more extended publicity to a financial expedient resorted to by the missionary agents, immediately subsequent to the meeting at which the speeches in question are reported to bave been delivered, viz. the transmission to the churchæardens of many parishes of a bulky packet charged with a heavy postage, and containing, besides the play and proceedings of the association, a circular letter, with the names of three secretaries, calling upon the churchwardens to apply to the of. ficiating ministers, to preach sermons or permit them to be preached for its benefit ;" and " also an anonymous printed handbill, vehemently pressing all Christians for their contribuțions :sm-even servants *, children, and paupers, for their pennies," and very gravely assuring them, that had not such alms been given by very poor churches" of old, we must all have been Heathens at this day! “To the hyperbolical representations of advertized puffing," says Mr. 1, "to the importunate pesterings of minute mendicity, who would vouchsafe an answer ? This stuff,' which dreams are made of, would not even have been mentioned here, but to contrast it with itself under other circumstances. Placed under shelter of such or name, it must have an answer."

* To wipe off the disgrace of this disgusting mendicity, Mr. Glover, in his reply, p. 42, refers to the last Report of the Society, wliere he says, its members are expressly cautioned against receixa ing the subscriptions of servants. We haye searched the Report re, ferred to for this caution, and we are concerned to state, that we have not succeeded in finding it. At p. 282 the question is put “ While our servants are eager to assist in this great cause, who will decline their profferred aid ?” Two instances of the liberality of this class are then stated; the latter of them that of a labourer's boy, at the sacrifice not merely of one meal of meat, with which, when the Puritans sent their fóraging parties through the kingdom, their rapacity was satisfied, but of a wetk's meals of it. Then follows what we conceive Mr. G. alludes to, but it is not a caution against receiving, but a recommendation to observe“ prudence and caution in soliciting and accepting such alms,” this however is not trusted without a full proportion of scriptural cant to act as an antidote to it; and the fact above stated shews, that the Society's agents only consider it as an ornamental appendage to their report

,

The

« PreviousContinue »