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and a considerable number of our countrymen, including some in high stations, who had hitherto been thoughtless of their own salvation and that of others, were becoming anxious for both, and were bearing the cross of their Redeemer, and confessing him boldly, amidst the European darkness and irreligion, and the native superstitions and pagan rites, which prevailed around them.
Such was the state of India when Bishop Heber landed on its shores. This excellent man began immediately to shew how highly he valued and esteemed, for their work's sake, such men as Corrie and Thomason; the first of whom he appointed his Archdeacon, and the latter he removed to the cathedral. Writing to Mr. J. Thornton, he says:
"Your friend Thomason is a very good and a very learned man—a child in gentleness and facility of disposition-the most unsuspicious being possible-inclined to think well of every body—he is an excellent preacher;' adding concerning his removal to the cathedral, Mr. Thomason is a most useful and necessary accession to the cathedral. I do not see any symptoms of the dispersion of his flockthough many doubtless follow him to the cathedral. The congregation of the old church, which was first formed by Mr. Brown, is still spoken of by many persons in Calcutta as made up of the evangelical party. A few years ago there was an avowed and impenetrable boundary line between them and the frequenters of the cathedral. The preacher of the old church was hardly acknowledged as a member of the same community. His brother chaplains, and those who attended his ministry, would as soon have gone to mass as to St. John's. The amiable temper and moderation of Thomason-the excellent terms on which he latterly was with Bishop Middleton-the similarity of his opinions with those of the late senior chaplains, have for some time back brought the parties nearer to each other. To the affairs of the Church Missionary Society, I have paid considerable attention, and have great reason to be satisfied with the manner in which they are conducted, as well as personally with the Committee, and all the missionaries whom I have seen.'" pp. 297, 298.
In the year 1825, the health of Mrs. Thomason rendering her return to England indispensable, Mr. Thomason, after much consideration, esteemed it his duty to give up his Indian engagements for the sake of accompanying her. He was followed by the affectionate regrets of all who knew him. The Governor-General in Council wrote to the Bishop of Calcutta on the occasion:
"The encomiums which your Lordship has so justly passed on Mr. Thomason's exemplary discharge of his ministerial functions, and his active and beneficent attention to most of the useful and charitable institutions of this city, meet with the most ready and entire concurrence of the Governor-General in Council. Mr. Thomason's services in the cause of religious charity and general usefulness have been so extensively beneficial, that the regret of the government for his departure from India will be shared by every member of the community who has witnessed his indefatigable exertions amongst all classes of persons within the sphere of his influence and example."" p.315. Mrs. Thomason expired on the voyage, and Mr. Thomason writes : "Oh! it has been a trying dispensation, far beyond what I could have expected, whilst I only knew the sorrow from report. She entered into rest—I was left in a state of desolation no language can express. O may I ever remember the impressions and emotions, the tears and prayers, the sorrows and joys, and mercies and judgments of the voyage."" p. 321.
On his arrival in England, he was prevailed upon by his friends to give up the intention of returning to India. Accordingly, at the end of the year 1826 he accepted the Perpetual Curacy of Trinity Church, Cheltenham; where he remained nearly two years, much beloved by the congregation committed to his charge. He, however, felt uneasy in consequence of the interruption of his Hindostanee translation of the Old Testament; which he was unable to prosecute in England. He therefore determined to return to India; where he arrived in November 1828. His health had been in a declining state from the time he left India in 1826, and the indisposition was increased during the voyage. His sufferings were, however, greatly mitigated by the affectionate attentions of Mrs. Thomason,
whom he had married a few weeks before he left England, his friends strongly urging this step. On his arrival in Calcutta his health was in so declining a state that he was only able to preach twice. He was recommended to try a voyage to the Isle of France. The former part of the voyage was favourable: he continued gradually to recover strength, and was able to read the Psalms and Lessons aloud in his cabin; but before he arrived at the Mauritius his disorder returned with increasing strength. He however reached the island, and seemed for a few days to rally; but his disorder soon returned, and on the 21st of June he was taken to his rest. The following notes are given of his last hours:
"Many sweet expressions we heard from his dying lips, in the midst of severe bodily agony, such as the following, This is a dark valley, but there's light at the end.' Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.' Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Lord give me patience, may patience have its perfect work.' When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death, thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers.' About three o'clock in the morning, he inquired what time it was, and when told, he replied, I thought I should have been far away before this.' He complained of a sharp pain in his heels, and also at the back of his head, which reminded him of the first great blessed promise vouchsafed to fallen man. He seemed to watch the progress of death as it advanced up his cold legs. He asked why there was not a candle in the room: on being told there was, he said, 'Oh, then, I am losing my sight, for it appears dark.' After a slight convulsion, I saw his change was near, and said to him, The Lord is coming quickly;' he replied with a smile, I hope so.' Shortly after this his heart ceased to beat, his spirit fled, and he entered the joy of the Lord.
66.6 During the voyage from Calcutta to this island, a period of nine weeks, in which that season of the year was included, wherein we commemorate our Saviour's Death, Resurrection, and Ascension, he read twice over the Harmony of the Gospels, which, as he intently perused, he frequently said, 'I have been feasting on the bread of life.' He appeared sometimes to be absent from all earthly scenes; so elevated was his soul with meditation on the boundless love of God in Christ, which was heightened by a deep sense of his own vileness: indeed, this characteristic much increased as he ripened for glory he lamented his great defect in every relative duty, in his ministerial office especially; and in deep humility of heart used to break out in the Publican's prayer, and frequently said, 'I cast myself on the boundless mercy of God. I throw myself at my Saviour's feet; if I perish, I perish there.'
"He was very earnest in his petitions at the Throne of Grace for the spiritual welfare of India, for the coming of Christ's kingdom, and the fulfilment of those prophecies relating to it. He left an affectionate farewell to those most dear to him, in the following words,- To my dearest mother, give my most affectionate love, and may her last days be her best days. To my very dear Mr. Simeon say, I feel unworthy of the great love he has at all times honoured me with. Oh! may his bow abide in strength, and may he be, if possible, still more useful in his age.'" pp. 232-234.
Such was Thomason; but he is gone, and his excellent and esteemed Biographer is gone too. Had Thomason effected nothing during his whole life but his version of the greater portion of the Old Testament into Hindostanee, this would justly perpetuate his memory, and entitle him to the gratitude of every friend of Christianity. Nor will the name of Sargent be unknown or unhonoured where the names of Martyn and Thomason are revered. Of the dead we say no more; but to the living we add, Whose faith follow; remembering the end of their conversation, Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever." The private Christian, and still more the Ministers of Christ, and most of all those who are called to labour in foreign lands, particularly in the vast regions of Hindostan, will find in the histories of Swartz, and Brown, and Buchanan, and Martyn, and Thomason—not to mention, though by no means disparaging, other Indian worthies—a most valuable and instructive series of Christian biographies, which will be appealed to by future ages as authentic documents for a review of Christianity and Christian missions in India, during the most remarkable and eventful period of its history.
REVIEW OF WORKS ON THE SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLedge.
1. Strictures on the Work entitled "Death-bed Scenes and Pastoral Conversations," in Refutation of its Doctrinal Errors and its Calumnies. By a Clerical Member of the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge. 2. Observations on "Death-bed Scenes and Pastoral Conversations," and on the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge. Dedicated to his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, President of the Society.
3. A Letter to Robert Gray, D. D., Lord Bishop of Bristol, designed to be a Travelling Companion of his Lordship's "Dialogue between a Churchman and a Methodist," recently published by the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge. By Jacob Stanley, Author of Dialogues on Popery.
4. Record Newspaper (passim)—Article: Society for promoting Christian Knowledge; Bible Lesson Book.
THE Society for promoting Christian Knowledge presents at this moment a most instructive spectacle, to any person who wishes to study the aspect of affairs within the pale of the Church of England, or the influence of that church upon the public at large. This truly venerable, and eminently important and useful, though certainly not perfect, institution, arose at a period of English ecclesiastical history when the hallowed days of the Reformation had passed away, and a very different race of divines to those who died at the stake for the faith of Christ crucified had begun to lord it over their prostrate church. This Society, though founded by devout and zealous men, could scarcely fail to sink into the prevailing habits of the times. It is true that some of its publications, during the first century of its existence, breathe a spirit of pure doctrine and exalted heavenly mindedness; it is true, that among its members were enrolled some of the most pious and holy and exemplary men, who adorned the eighteenth century and the latter end of the seventeenth. It is true, that it was eminently successful in importing from Lutheran Germany the missionary zeal and love of a Swartz and his compeers ;-but, as a whole, it partook very much of the character of the members of the Church of England during that long period: it was cold, inactive, and barely orthodox; it opposed vice and infidelity, but its great object of alarm was what was vaguely called Calvinism, Methodism, or fanaticism; and its great desire seemed to be to reduce men to decorous formalism; and, as for many of its publications, nothing could be more jejune, frigid, and unreadable, except where they waxed into animation in their zeal against those who, forsaking decent mediocrity, were either righteous over-much or over-much wicked.
We are not casting stones at the Society during that lethargic period; for if its members were not in general distinguished by much religious energy, they were less apathetic than others, who did nothing; and to this Society we owe no slight debt of gratitude for its Bibles, its Prayerbooks, its schools, its missions, and many of its publications, at a time when the great majority of the professed members of our Church, and not less of the Dissenting bodies, were too much sunk in spiritual insensibility, especially as respects the wants and the claims of Heathen Lands lying in darkness and the shadow of death.
During the last quarter of a century this ancient institution has been roused into new activity; and more than outvied its own youthful efforts, or the efforts of any kindred establishment, unless it be that cosmopolitan institution the British and Foreign Bible Society. The zeal which formed Bible and Missionary institutions, and the zeal which opposed them,
equally contributed to augment its numbers and to swell its funds; and we unfeignedly rejoice to say, that, so far from the labours of other societies injuring this-so far even from its own recent extra-mural experiments and operations, by means of its Committee of Literature and the four millions of books, tracts, and Saturday Magazines issued by that body, drawing off resources from the parent at home, never was the Society, in every respect, in so flourishing a condition as at the present moment. Its last Report is not yet printed, but those who have heard the substance of it read will acknowledge it to be one of the most interesting and important ever yet sent out by the Society. It states, that the total number of books issued during the year has been, Bibles, 73,572; Testaments, 70,606; CommonPrayer Books, 162,019; Psalters, 15,506; other bound books, 136,772; small Tracts, half-bound, &c. 1,620,866: making a total of 2,079,341. This total is far greater than that of any preceding year; as are most, we believe all, of the items of which it is composed. The Society has also been as successful in its receipts as in its issues: its funds, from all sources, during the year having augmented to the sum of 70,3361.; of which no less than 37,4371. were from members for the purchase of books and tracts on the terms of the Society. It has thus flourished this year beyond all former example: it has been signally prosperous in its funds, its issues, its accession of members; in short, in whatever constitutes the external machinery of a charitable institution.
But organization is not life; and in vain are limbs of mighty mould, if they are not animated by an etherial spirit. Has this been the case with this Society? Has its stupendous machinery been rightly directed? has its giant strength been devoted to good or evil? and if, as in all human institutions, however well devised, there has been a mixture of both, what have been the proportions, and how may we increase the proportion of gold, and get rid of whatever adheres of alloy ?
These questions would be variously answered by various persons. The Society has advocates who in a spirit of prepossession eulogize all its proceedings, and see not how any thing could have been changed for the better. It has enemies who in a spirit of prejudice object to every thing, and think the Society a curse, rather than a benefit to the country. Thus, between party spirit on both sides, it is not easy, for those who have not carefully watched the proceedings of the Society, to ascertain exactly the position which it occupies. There are those who appear to think improvement superfluous; there are others who seem to consider it unattainable: the former would admit of no innovation; the latter would be satisfied with no improvement, Our own view is, that, great as has been the increase of the Society's external prosperity, the improvement in its character and proceedings has been greater still; and we view it at this moment as standing in a condition peculiarly hopeful and interesting, and as likely to prove more than ever an ornament to the Church of England, and a benefit to the universal church of Christ. No writers have remonstrated more frequently or explicitly than we have done, for thirty years, in regard to whatever appeared to us wrong or defective in the publications or the spirit of this Society; and we are, therefore, the more constrained in duty to add this testimony to its greatly improved and improving character. Its increased zeal and energy are known to all: it has drawn warmer blood into its veins, and is advancing with vigorous steps to meet the peculiar exigencies of the day; adapting its powerful machinery to new objects, and particularly to the counteraction of infidel, blasphemous, anti-social, and demoralizing publications. In this last respect, its Committee of Literature has effected a public service of incalculable value. It found the corner of every street and every hawker's basket polluted with iniquitious cheap publications,
which tracts of a directly religious character had not been able to displace. Among other laudable projects for correcting this evil, it brought into the market a new cheap weekly entertaining and instructive publication, on a plan very similar to one which had been recently established with remarkable success; but with this difference, that whereas the Penny Magazine expressly passed by all religious topics, the Saturday, though not professing to be a religious publication, was never to lose sight of them; so that the reader of its pages should be reminded, even in the midst of his amusement or intellectual instruction, that he possesses a soul, and that God has given him a Revelation by which he may learn how it may be happy for ever. We think that the Committee might, with advantage, afford a larger infusion of spiritual instruction; but as this was not their direct object in this particular work, they seemed to have feared giving to it too theological a cast, and thus preventing its extensive circulation for its particular purpose. It has certainly had the good effect, aided by the Penny Magazine and some other publications, of rendering vast quantities of trash unsaleable, driving them out of the market, and teaching the poorer classes of readers to look for entertainment in something better than vicious, blasphemous, and kingkilling or soul-killing publications. It has also materially raised the moral and religious tone of some other publications*.-In these and other ways
*It is in all good will to the Committee of Literature, whose labours deserve much gratitude, that we express our regret respecting the title and day of publication of the Saturday Magazine. We think that it was ill-judged to send out the new work on the same day as the Penny Magazine, which had already obtained a wide circulation; thus creating an idea of rivalry which was never intended; besides which, the day was already over-stocked, and we think there had been a better commercial opening for a work of this kind in the middle of the week-say on Wednesday. But our chief reason for objecting to the day is, that it has led to a very general impression that the work was intended for Sunday reading; which every person knows is the cause why so many other publications have been issued on Saturday, from Addison's papers in the Spectator down to the present day. The members of the Committee, we know, reject with due disapprobation the idea that they mean their entertaining accounts and plates of birds and beasts and buildings, for Sunday study; but if they consider all the circumstances, they will not wonder that we wish that another day had been chosen. They publish on Saturday morning, or even as early as Friday afternoon; but in the country the numbers are not ready for distribution till Sunday morning, on which day there are many purchasers at the newspaper distributors and small stationers, as is the case in London also. People like to receive, and if possible to commence reading a periodical work on the day on which it is dated; but is it, then, desirable that such a work should be issued on the busiest day of the week, when a vast mass of readers, including shopmen, mechanics, labourers, apprentices, and servants, cannot find half an hour's leisure to go out to purchase, much less to read, their weekly treasure; one or both which operations they will too easily learn, in their impatient curiosity, to commence on Sunday, their chief day of leisure? And we are sorry to add, that the Committee's own prospectus, which was widely circulated as an advertisement, and also introduced into the work as the first paper of the opening number, encouraged the notion that the Saturday Magazine was intended for Sunday reading. We do not see how any person who reads that preface can think otherwise. After enumerating what would be the contents of the work-such as "natural history, navigation, printing, the telescope, steam-engines, and so on"-it says, that "this Magazine comes out on the Saturday, when most men have a pause from labour;" adding, we are not for interfering with the family talk or the friendly walk, much less with the duties of the Sabbath or the study of the Bible-and we trust every one of our readers has one-all these good things may be done and observed, and yet there will be plenty of time for perusing these few pages." We cannot for a moment doubt that the writer of this preface meant distinctly to refer to the day of sacred rest. For, is it on Saturday, the busiest day of the week, that the poor man puts on his best gear, and procures a pause from labour," and time for "family talk," and takes "a friendly walk," and attends to "the duties of the Sabbath and the study of the Bible;" and then, "when all these things are done and served," has "plenty of time for perusing these few pages?" The Committee, when this objection was suggested to them, replied, in their sixth number, that the pause from labour was referred to the end of the week (Saturday), and not the beginning (Sunday), and that "nothing was further