« PrécédentContinuer »
just as their teacher is beginning to rejoice over them as 'brands plucked from the burning,' he will be disappointed, perhaps grieved at heart, by the detection of their real motives. He cannot but feel it very hard indeed to preserve a true missionary spirit under the repetition of such disappointments. But let him not be discouraged. He should be particularly on his guard against the feeling of distrust towards all future inquirers. Such a feeling may naturally be expected to arise in his mind, under circumstances so painful; but he should instantly repress it. For, although hitherto all may have been hypocrites, yet the next may prove a sincere disciple, who would be disheartened by an apparent suspicion in his teacher, and retarded in his progress. Caution ought never to be confounded with suspicion. To be cautious in the admission of candidates for baptism, will always be the missionary's duty; but to suspect them without cause, would tend to hurt his own spirit, and to chill his love for them and others: while to manifest that suspicion by a repulsive manner would generally shut the mouth of an humble inquirer, and make his spirit sad. However difficult the task may be, yet the missionary should endeavour to keep his mind free from distrust, and his heart warm with affection; that he may be ready to receive every one in future with the same kindness and attention which he would have shewn if he had never been deceived." pp. 114, 115.
Another practical difficulty with converts in India, is the question of caste. The greater part of the Christian instructors in that country from Ziegenbalk and Swartz, down to Bishop Heber, have regarded it as a civil rather than a religious distinction, and therefore declined interfering with it; but of late years some of the missionaries have endeavoured to break through this tyrannical edict, and in many instances with success. though chiefly, we believe, in the case of the more degraded castes. It is a question of extreme difficulty. The distinction, though originally religious, has become also civil; and so far it is analogous to the classifications which exist in all communities. If an English clergyman insisted that a marquis should sit down to dinner daily with a scavenger as the test of his being a Christian, it is not likely that he would succeed in his object, and it may well be doubted, whether he was doing all things "decently and in order." If the Hindoos view caste in a similar light, we cannot wonder at their objections, whatever we may judge of their propriety. We think, however, that the experiment ought to be made with a tender but firm hand to get rid of this obstacle. It may be that the first Christian settlers yielded too readily to it, and that in the present advanced state of missions and with the greatly increased influence of the European character over the natives, this gigantic mischief may be eventually banished from the land. It is a question chiefly of experience, the solution of which must depend very much upon local knowledge. Mr. Hough's view, after large experience, is to hold no terms with this baneful system, but to make the renunciation of caste, if not a necessary prerequisite to baptism, at least an expected consequent upon it. He says:
"In Tinnevelly I had a catechist in my employment, who was one of the most humble Christians and confidential servants I ever knew. Indeed, at my request for such an assistant, on my first arrival, this man was sent to me by Mr. Kohlhoff, a missionary at Tanjore, as a person on whom I might depend; and I never had cause to suspect his piety and integrity, or to be dissatisfied with his conduct. In my visits to the Christian churches in the interior, he was one of my constant attendants, and always performed the duties assigned him to my satisfaction. On one occasion, when we had travelled far, and visited many churches, in the evening I found him quite faint from fatigue and hunger. On inquiring why he had not taken refreshment at one of the stations where we halted, I was exceedingly pained to find, that he had asked a brother catechist of the place for a little rice, who refused to comply with his request, because he was a man of inferior caste.
"Such a prejudice is a disgrace to the Christian church in India, and I do think it the duty of every missionary to endeavour to extirpate it. I mean not to say that the retention of caste is wholly incompatible with Christian principle. Indeed, I have known several instances of its being retained by men, whose piety and humility were unquestionable; but for one such case, a hundred might be produced where it has left untouched-yea, where it has continued to cherish-all the pride engendered by such a system. I am not an advocate for premature measures, and would treat the weak conscience with tenderness. But we must be faithful, both to our Master, and also to those whom we would persuade to learn of Him to be meek
when missionaries may be less scru
pulous on this point than those were who entered earlier on the field. Some, I know, have made the experiment, and the result has been precisely such as they expected, and sufficiently successful to encourage all who follow them to emulate their example. If this course be steadily pursued, the time is not distant when it shall again be said, As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.' These are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.' When such is the case, then will it be added, There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for all are one in Christ Jesus.' If it be the missionary's duty to endeavour to bring to this character every church over which he may preside, then is it equally his duty to insist upon the renunciation of caste, or any other prejudice, that may be repugnant to the principles of Christianity in the heart, and opposed to their diffusion through the world." pp. 121, 122.
Mr. Hough concludes his little volume with a few pages of useful remark, under the heads of diligence, perseverance, attention to health, the consci. entious preparation of missionary journals, economy, and a cheerful attention to the instructions received from home. We need not quote more; the preceding passages will sufficiently shew the character of the work, which well deserves to be in the hands of every missionary and of every officer of a missionary society. Christians ought to strive to gain large and intelligent views of the duties they embark upon; we do not live in an age of miracles: for though the Holy Spirit is promised in the church to the end of the world, it is not at present in his extraordinary, but his ordinary dispensations; and every subordinate aid therefore is not only allowable, but a part of the allotted system under which we live. Missionaries are not now to be sent out without coat or scrip; or to expect to speak foreign tongues by miracle or to translate the Scriptures by intuition. Care, study, and diligence, as well as prayer and devotedness of heart, are requisite; and the faithful missionary is not less in his Master's service while he is assiduously preparing his weapons than while he is exercising them in the scene of his labours. To every friend also of missions, a knowledge of the actual difficulties of the missionary office is highly useful; not only to lead to prayer, and zeal, and liberality, but to prevent unscriptural expectations and to fortify the mind against the chilling effects of reverses and disappointments.
THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY'S CHARGE.
A Charge, delivered at his Primary Visitation, in August and September, 1832. By WILLIAM, LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY. London. 1832.
A CHARGE by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the primary official exposition of his Grace's sentiments since his accession to his high office, will be regarded at the present moment as an important ecclesiastical manifesto. It has, ever since the troubles of the seventeenth century, been the understood object of successive British cabinets to select for the responsible function of Metropolitan of England, an individual of tried wisdom, moderation, and courteous habits, lest in so powerful and influential a station the slightest rashness should endanger the peace of the church and nation. And never assuredly was there greater need of those qualities than at the present moment: and this, not only in consideration of the hostile aggressions against the Church, the increased number of dissidents of all persuasions, and the wish expressed in many quarters to desolate our venerated Zion; but in regard also, and perhaps chiefly, to the well-known differences. among her own members and clergy. Much will depend upon the justice and wisdom of the measures which shall be pursued during the next few years in high places as to whether the church, whatever may be its political
condition, shall grow in unity within itself, or be distracted and torn asunder by intestine divisions.
In consequence of the state of the times and other circumstances, the ecclesiastical appointments which took place about four years and a half since, on occasion of the death of the late Archbishop, may be justly considered as among the most important of any which has occurred for many years in the annals of our church. We thus announced them at the time: "The Bishop of London (Dr. Howley) succeeds to the archbishopric of Canterbury; an office in which the mild and tolerant character of this highly learned and devout prelate will be a pledge to the country for the general character of his ecclesiastical government..... The choice of Government, for the See of London, has fallen upon the Bishop of Chester, whose well known zeal, learning, and ability, directed as they are most indefatigably to the duties of his high station, eminently qualify him for this most arduous appointment..... The new Bishop of Chester is Dr. Bird Sumner; a name which we need not introduce to our readers, except it be to express with them our hearty thanksgivings to God, that the choice has fallen on a clergyman so eminently calculated, by his piety, his talents, and his character, to adorn the episcopal office." We see no cause in 1833 to do otherwise than record the confirmation of our anticipations of 1828. More it were not decorous for us to say, except to add generally, that though church work is proverbially not rapid, it certainly has not during the present archiepiscopate stood still; and some of the measures, or intended measures, which have of late, from time to time, been brought forward, inadequate as they were to meet the necessities of the case, were far more considerable than any thing that had been contemplated by the heads of the Church for many years. The Church Building Bill was a large and salutary measure, though experience has proved that yet more is requisite ; the difficulties, expences, and formalities being in many cases still too great for the exigencies of many poor and thickly peopled districts. The abortive Plurality Bill, though far too scanty, would yet have imposed restrictions on cumulation and non-residence by no means inconsiderable. The elaborate and honest Report on the ecclesiastical courts does great honour to its compilers; and the bill or bills which are expected to spring from it will conduce to improved arrangements of ecclesiastical jurisdiction; the Archbishop of Canterbury making very considerable sacrifices for the attainment of that object. The Act enabling ecclesiastical corporations to augment their poor livings was also, so far as it went, a valuable measure. The same may be said of some other recent bills, or intended bills, and among them the English tithe-composition scheme, which was an undoubted improvement, and might have been a preparative for commutation, though, as a substitute for it, it was utterly unavailing.
We are not wanting then in gratitude to the Most Reverend Primate, by whom, or under whose sanction, these and other useful measures have been devised, and some of them carried into effect. Nor are we insensible that, while the public called for more, some of those with whom it was very difficult to negociate wished for less; and that his Grace has gained little good will with either. This indeed he needs not lay to heart; it is a portion which has ever fallen to the lot of those whose arduous duty it has been to occupy exalted stations in troublous times; and his Grace, we doubt not, views with as little concern-except for the parties themselves-the jealousies of those who oppose even his measured reforms, and account so mild an innovation as the late Plurality Bill destructive, as he does the brutal attack of a misguided mob, who beheld in a prelate proverbial for mildness, charity, disinterestedness, and kindness of heart, an object for their ignorant displeasure.
But still the question remains, What are the kind of measures which the Church now requires? In this hour of public ferment, it may be in some respects an advantage to the Church to have at her helm a prelate whose virtues lean to the cautious side; and whom all persons, who know any thing of the matter, esteem as a man anxious to do what is right and for the best, and who, if he is sparing of alteration, is not so from pride or interest, but from prudence and a sense of duty. Yet, we repeat, the question recurs, what measures are at the present crisis best for the church and the country?—whether small, partial, and allowedly inadequate reforms, such as the above-mentioned tithe-composition and plurality bills; or a bold and vigorous application of the pruning knife, so as to get rid at once of decayed branches and profitless shoots,-those luxuriances which, from their robbing the fruit-bearing branches, the French gardeners call voleurs; and to cause our ecclesiastical vine to break out with an abundant supply of young vigorous shoots, the indications of renewed health, and the precursors of fertility? We have looked at the question anxiously, and our perfect conviction is, that the latter is the right and wise course; and that if the heads of the Church spare the pruning knife, there are those who will speedily use the spade or the axe, and we shall have destruction instead of improvement.
No; it is not a meagre bit-by-bit reform which will satisfy the exigency: what we think the Church needs and may obtain, and what it appears to us its true friends ought to implore in their petitions to the legislature; what, in a word, would constitute a reform conducive to spiritual efficiency-a reform at once extensive and conservative, would comprise some such particulars as the following:-A provision for a specific theological and probationary education for the clergy, as is afforded in all other Protestant churches, and which might easily be arranged with the universities or cathedrals, or both; The diminution of undue secular inducements to take holy orders by persons who are not religiously addicted to the office, as in the temptation held out by sinecures, pluralities, non-residence, unreasonable emoluments, and, we may add, some fellowship qualifications, and other particulars; The total prohibition of plurality of benefices having cure of souls; The enforcement of residence, accompanied by suitable measures for making every benefice an adequate provision for a clergyman; The division of large parishes and the union of some small ones, so as to form convenient and manageable pastoral districts; Increased encouragement to building or opening new churches and chapels, in populous neighbourhoods; The commutation of tithes for land, corn-rent, or some other source of fairly adjusted and permanent income, if such can be discovered; A better adjustment of the episcopal revenues, so as to augment the poorer sees and supersede the evil of translations; with the division of the larger dioceses, and a diminution of some of the secular burdens which at present fall upon the bishops, so as to enable them to devote themselves with adequate care to the duties of their solemn function; A revision of the laws and customs of patronage, so as to place the presentation to a benefice under high responsibilites; Some regulations respecting crown and episcopal patronage, so as to give to the whole body of the clergy, under due regulations and having regard to character and attainments, a fair prospect of arriving in succession at a benefice; A system of ecclesiastical discipline adapted to modern wants and habits; The extension of the ordinances of national religion to every part of the British empire.-These are but outlines: but we think that, if duly filled up, they would form such a large and perfectly safe measure of Church Reform as would, by the blessing of God, essentially benefit the present and future generations. We need scarcely add, that the whole ought to
be conducted in a spirit of justice and equity in regard to all fair claims; and that some of these reforms could only be prospective. The whole, we believe, with the exception of adequately extending the ordinances of religion to all our foreign dependencies, might be accomplished without expense to the public, by a proper management of the property already belonging to the church, combined with the voluntary exertions of pious and munificent individuals-as, for instance, in building and endowing churches, and augmenting small livings in their own gift or neighbourhood. But the full development of the plan, and the arguments to shew its utility and practicability, would occupy many pages. We give only the heads, to which a few others might be added; and we should think that petitions to the King and to both Houses of Parliament, embodying such of these outlines as may seem meet, would be very serviceable at this moment; in order that it may be seen that the friends of the Churchthose who venerate her as an important instrument of religious benefit to the land are anxious for a reform of every abuse and an extension of her utility, while they conscientiously oppose every measure of subversion or spoliation. We have not included, among the above particulars, a revision of the Liturgy, which many persons are proposing; because we fear, at least at the present moment, that such a measure would be eminently hazardous.
We have, perhaps, alarmed some of our readers by the above sketch of conservative measures; but which of them would they in detail object to? The speedy prospective extinction of pluralities, which His Grace seems in his charge to consider not only hopeless, but" an extreme" highly “inconvenient," and to be avoided-we honestly believe to be amongst the most safe, easy, and beneficial of all the contemplated projects. The commutation of tithes, on which his Grace has not touched in his Charge -and it might not be proper that he should touch upon it, more especially as he had probably not made up his mind to recommend, what he cannot but know must in some way speedily take place is not an easy question; but, whether easy or not, it is a case of necessity, and must be settled: and we think we can see our way pretty clearly through most of the difficulties. It is not our province, however, to chalk out a bill for the purpose; and we therefore trouble not our readers with the items.
But it is time to view his Grace's Charge more distinctly, and in the light of a manifesto;-not, indeed, of all that probably may and will be done, but of his Grace's own personal and upright feelings and opinions ; some of which, however, he may have seen fit to re-consider, with a view to ascertain whether, under all the well-known circumstances of the case, and in order to promote the peace and harmony of the church and nation, and that there may be no division of counsels where all should be unanimity, and that the Church may not lose that support which as a national establishment it ought to enjoy, he cannot conscientiously yield to necessity more than he would himself have proposed as desirable. We say thus much (without wishing to enter further into the subject), because, if this Charge were to be received as the ultimatum of the Right Reverend bench on the questions which now agitate public opinion in regard to the Church Establishment, we should foresee a collision which could not but be fatal to its best interests, if not its very existence. But we augur no such evil issue; for that very spirit of moderation and prudence which we have adverted to, as having been long considered an essential requisite to the English primacy, while it ordinarily inclines to the supposed safe side, of checking large innovations, will equally discover when it is the safer side to adopt a vigorous and courageous course of action; and rather to anticipate the hour of necessity than to wait till the tide becomes a flood,