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"It is proposed to notice the leading errors of Death-bed Scenes under the following_heads-Justification, Repentance, the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, and Evangelical Clergy' (under the author's head of Proselytism'), with further remarks on less important points." Strictures, pp. 1-6.
We purpose, in another number, following the author through these different heads of discussion. They are unspeakably important, not merely as regards this book, or the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, or even the Church of England, but as involving the essential doctrines of the Gospel of our Redeemer. We augur much benefit from a serious consideration of the great questions arising out of such an inquiry, if only it be conducted in a Christian spirit, and with that mutual forbearance and respect which become members of the same church, and professed followers of the same Divine Master. On former occasions, of somewhat similar discussions, arising out of the Bible-Society controversy, the Baptismal controversy, the Antinomian controversy, and various others, much solid benefit remained after the strife had passed away. The noise of the flail, the whirl of the fan, and the dust of the chaff, were not agreeable; but the wheat was found clean and well sifted after the operation was over. We believe that much of the revival of pure Scriptural doctrine in our Church during the last quarter of a century, has originated in these discussions. Many laymen, and even clergymen, who before had never considered such questions, were led to apply their minds to them, and by the blessing of God discovered the Pearl of Great Price, when they were thinking of little more than of collecting shining pebbles. As a proof of the advance in Scriptural knowledge, we need only refer to the very first doctrine alluded to by the author of the " Strictures"-justification through faith only. In our early volumes we had occasion again and again to prove this doctrine systematically; whereas now, what clergyman, in words at least, ventures to deny it? In arguing with not a few of the members of the Society twenty or thirty years ago, we were obliged to begin with the beginning; and we should have had in the present instance to shew, not only that this book impugns the doctrine, but that it ought not to do so. Now our task is easier; for if we can shew that the book does impugn that article of a standing or falling church, we shall not need more to shew that it ought not to remain on the catalogue of a Society for promoting Christian Knowledge; for we doubt whether any accredited member of the Society would, either in his place or in print, assert that men are to be justified, in part or in whole, by their works. Muddy statements are common enough; but few men now venture to take up the naked proposition. Surely this is no slight advance; and the same may be said of other points of doctrine and practice arising out of the discussion; which may God over-rule to His own glory and the setting forth of His Truth*.
(To be continued.)
While this article is passing through the press we have learned, what we were not aware of before, that, by a resolution of the Standing Committee on the 10th of June, the "Death-bed Scenes" has been withdrawn from the list of the Society. This intelligence strengthens all that we have above stated, relative to our conviction of the wish of the Society to improve its catalogue, and to listen with candour to any wellfounded and temperately urged objection which may be brought to its notice against any of its publications. This withdrawal will relieve us of some of the embarrassment which we felt in commencing the present argument, as the important questions involved in it will be divested of any unnecessary associations. We may take this occasion to remark, that we have felt much pain at some things in the controversy in the Record newspaper respecting another of the Society's works-or, more properly, a work of the Committee of Literature-the Bible Lesson Book. We think the book very ill-judged and ill compiled-(we believe it is the production of a lady, who strung the passages together as she thought best for nursery reading, but with no view of a systematic rejection or mutilation of the sacred text)—but the conduct of the Society in regard to it leads us to the very contrary opinion to that expressed in the Record, that the members
should throw up their subscriptions. On the contrary, we see in all that has passed relating to that little book additional reason why every friend of piety and of the Church of England should enrol himself among its members. Nothing could be more candid and Christian than the spirit displayed by the members of the Committee of Literature, in listening to objections, and expressing their wish to correct every defect. But more of this, if necessary, hereafter.
We ought to have remarked above, that Death-bed Scenes is not on the Society's regular list, but only on the Supplemental Catalogue. It has, therefore, not undergone the Society's scrutiny, or been proposed or balloted for at the Monthly Board. Had it been proposed for the regular list, it must have been recommended in a strict form, and its merits been fully discussed; and some member would probably have objected to it, and, if his objections were valid, prevented its admission. Our own readers were aware of the character of the book, from our review of it, long before it was taken up by the Standing Committee. The members in general could know nothing of its insertion till they found it in their Annual Report.
VIEW OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS.
NEVER, since the commencement of our labours, has a passing month presented to us more topics of public importance, especially to a Christian Observer, than the present. There are those indeed who turn with apathy from all such matters; who, if urged to lend their attention to questions of great interest to the morals, religion, and general welfare of mankind, coolly reply, that "they never meddle with politics;" thus veiling the absence of an enlarged spirit of Christian patriotism and philanthropy under the plea of abstaining from the petty litigations of political party. Let the Christian avoid vain and secular janglings as much as he is able; but we pity the heart and the head of any man, especially a clergyman, who-when addressed upon the duty he owes to God and his country in regard to such momentous topics as Ecclesiastical Reform; the abolition of the anti-Christian system of West-India slavery; the strengthening of the laws for the better observance of the Sabbath; the moral, social, and spiritual welfare of a hundred millions of our fellow-men in India; and many other pressing subjects, involving the glory of God and the happiness of mankind can affect to stigmatize such considerations under the abused name of "politics," wrapping himself up in his own little selfish circle, perhaps with a sneer at his friend's anxiety; replying, that he himself is chiefly concerned about spiritual things; that he leaves the potsherds of the earth to strive with the potsherds of the earth; that it is God who alone can amend a wicked world; that as for legislation, he places no faith in it; that you cannot make men religious by Act of Parliament; that legislation on Church Reform and Sabbath Observance is of little consequence, with much more to the same effect; and which we venture to designate as the veriest slang of a narrow mind and an unfeeling heart. The proCHRIST. OBSERV. No. 379.
positions are abstractedly true, but they are relatively false; for God works by means, and no man can open his Bible without seeing that not the least of those means is the conduct of legislation. The objector's argument goes in effect, and often practically also, much further, to an indifference to objects more directly religious, and to a distaste especially for the operations of Bible, Missionary, and Education Societies, and the whole machinery of enlightened benevolence. The man who finds himself becoming indifferent to such matters, instead of priding himself upon his increased spirituality, had better take shame to himself, if not as a loiterer in his Lord's vineyard, at least as a discourager of those who feel it their duty to labour in a portion of it for which he has no predilection.
The IRISH CHURCH REFORM BILL has received considerable modifications, which tend greatly to its improvement. In stating the outlines of the proposed measure when it was first announced, we ex pressed much satisfaction at several of its provisions, but objected strongly to the taxation of the existing race of incumbents, the abolition of twelve bishopricks, and the spoliatory alienation of church property from its proper objects, as proposed in the virtual sale of episcopal lands, and devoting only an annuity to the see. We are happy to say that this last proposition is abandoned, and that no part of the church property is to be diverted to state purposes. This concession involves a most important doctrine; for if three millions of ecclesiastical revenue were thus seized, and appropriated either to paying the Roman Catholic priesthood, or pauperize the poor, or to the new scheme of what is incorrectly called "neutral" Education, there is no impediment in point of principle to abolishing the Protestant Church polity altogether, and restoring 3 L
the legislative domination of Popery. Most heartily do we rejoice at this amendment, more especially as it is understood as being likely to prevent the rejection of the Bill in the House of Lords, which might have led to very alarming conflicts. We are thankful also that the unjust scheme of taxing the present race of incumbents is relinquished; and that the scale of taxation of future incumbents is to commence from 300l. per annum, instead of 2007.; though we cannot wholly abandon(notwithstanding such high authorities as Dr. Burton, and many other zealous Churchmen) our original scruples as to the justice of taxing one benefice to augment another. We hope that the abolition of so many sees may yet be dispensed with. Mr. Shaw, speaking, he intimated, as the authorized organ of the Irish Church, liberally offered to reduce the sees to 4000l. per annum, but retaining their present number. This had been a most salutary arrangement, especially as striking at the root of episcopal translations, which, though occasionally desirable, is in its present extent one of the greatest practical evils of the present system. The staff of the Church would thus be kept up, and Protestantism be prepared to spread its blessed influences over the land, if it shall please God, as we trust he will, eventually to cause His truth to triumph in the hearts of men over the errors of Popery. Lord Althorp unhappily ridiculed the idea of a bishop with only twenty or thirty parishes under his care as an absurdity and "a scandal." If his Lordship had perused the records of Christian antiquity he would find that this scandal is of very ancient date; and that the modern notions of wealth, rank, and political power, which are currently connected with the episcopate, do not belong to its essence. A venerable clergyman raised to preside in the Lord over fifty of his brethren, and to regulate the spiritual affairs of the large district which would be formed by thirty Irish rural parishes, would be no unpleasing spectacle of primitive episcopacy; and we may say this with the less offence to any man, because our own views do not extend, like those of some excellent friends of the Church, to the expulsion of Bishops from the House of Lords; and because we believe, that, though a bishop of thirty parishes would be a bishop still, and that the spiritual dignity would not be lowered by the absence of splendid revenues, and that the clergy and their flocks would be greatly benefited by his constant residence and minute inspection and godly monitions, yet that, if our Bishops will do their duty in their present high political station, they may be eminently useful in the promotion of true religion, and all its blessed fruits, by their power and influence; more especially as there is now no Convocation of the clergy for legislative
We are glad to add, in connexion with Irish Church matters, that the arrears of tithes of the last three years are to be commuted for a land tax; so that, as the law of last session, which imposes the payment on the land-owner and not the tenant, comes into operation next November, there will be an end, we trust, to this fruitful source of parochial bickering and clerical unpopularity. The clergy sacrifice something by the measure; but there was only a choice of evils, and peace and spiritual usefulness were well worth even larger concessions. Upon the whole, therefore, we are well pleased with the chief provisions of the Irish Church Reform bills as they now stand, and conscientiously believe that they will tend to the promotion of Protestantism and true religion in that long-agitated island. The plan proposed by Mr. Shaw in the name of the Irish Church would, however, greatly improve the scheme, and we trust will yet be adopted.
We rejoice to say that the ANTI-SLAVERY PROPOSITIONS OF GOVERNMENT have also been considerably modified, so as greatly to improve them. The scheme to which we so strongly objected, of mulcting the slave to pay the interest of the loan to his employer, and making him work out his freedom, when he is rather entitled to compensation for the abreption of his liberty, is, we rejoice to say, abandoned. He is, however, to be an apprentice for a period not exceeding twelve years, and to work three-fourths of his time under compulsion, and not for wages. part of the measure we still consider to be unjust, impolitic, and impracticable; and we trust it will even yet be amended. We object to it upon principle; but, in point of fact, we are not greatly alarmed at it, as the other parts of the plan, we are persuaded, will render it the interest of all parties to abridge the term of involuntary servitude, and to make the slave wholly free with very little delay. As for the twenty millions of money proposed to be given to the slave-owners, under the name of compensation, though it far exceeds any loss that we believe will ultimately attach to the abolition of slavery, yet it is a mere trifle, in our view, compared with the safe and satisfactory abandonment of this wicked and impolitic system; and as its payment is made to depend upon the good faith and active co-operation of the colonists themselves, we are well satisfied in hav ing such a pledge for their right conduct, and for the consequent prevention of much possible strife, expense, and even bloodshed. Upon the whole, we feel abundantly satisfied with the progress of this great question, and we have no doubt that all the minor difficulties will be readily made to yield. Both Houses of Parliament have unanimously resolved that
West-Indian slavery shall cease; and we may add, that this decision has given the death-blow to slavery throughout the world; for it cannot after this last much longer in the United States or any where else. Thus has Justice, thus has Christian principle, thus has Humanity, triumphed over ill-understood sordid interest and false expediency. To the Author of every good gift alone be the glory of this blessed consummation. The details we shall watch with interest; but we thank God the principle is conceded; and that the only question now is, to get rid of the atrocity in the best manner. ourselves, we willingly bear all the ill-will and obloquy we have sustained for our feeble efforts in this great cause of justice and religion, and this at a time when we stood almost single-handed among the periodical publications of the land; nor are we at all concerned that some even of our clerical readers threw up, if they did not burn, their copies of our lucubrations, and did all in their power to impede their circulation. These things pass away, just as will our alleged clerical unpopularity at this moment in the matter of Church Reform; and we unfeignedly rejoice that a sound principle should eventually triumph, even though some of its early abettors should have suffered in the contest.
While on the subject of congratulations we must not omit to notice the proposed PLANS RESPECTING INDIA, though, having already adverted to some of them in another part of our present number, we shall not at present go into any detail. Mr. Grant, in a speech of extraordinary interest, bas sketched the chief features of the intended measures, and both Houses of Parliament have consented to them. The commerce with China is to be thrown open to the public; the East-India Company are to continue for twenty years the rulers of India; all offices and employments are to be thrown open to all persons, of every class and colour, without any distinction but good conduct and public services; equal laws and justice are to be administered to all, and as much as possible upon one general system, the European and the Native having the same privileges, and being subject to the same regulations and punishments. There is to be a new presidency for the Western Provinces: two suffragan Bishops are to be appointed to assist the Bishop of Calcutta: and the country is to be thrown open to colonization; any person being allowed to settle and remain there, and to trade and purchase land, subject only to the restrictions of such laws as are necessary for the benefit of all. Much public gratitude is due to Mr. Grant for these wise and liberal propositions. We think that some other large and useful plans might be devised, for the promotion of education
and the extension of religion, directly among the Europeans, and ultimately among the natives; and we shall probably have occasion again to advert to this important subject; but for the present we feel satisfied, from the spirit displayed in these proposals, in connexion, we might add, with the well-reasoned and excellent dispatch sent out for the abrogation of the Pilgrim Tax, that the India Board will not be insensible to whatever can be properly effected for improving the condition of India. The documents quoted by Mr. Grant in proof of the rapidly advancing state of native society are peculiarly valuable; and we cannot forbear concluding our remarks with the following statement by the Governor-General, Lord William Bentinck. His Lordship says:
"Recent events, and the occurrences now passing under our eyes, still more clearly justify the persuasion, that whatever change would be beneficial for our native subjects, we may hope to see adopted, in part at least, at no distant period, if adequate means and motives be presented. I need scarcely mention the increasing demand which almost all who possess the means evince for various articles of convenience and luxury, purely European. It is in many cases very remarkable. Even in the celebration of their most sacred festivals, a great change is said to be perceptible in Calcutta. Much of what used, in old times, to be distributed among beggars and Brahmins, is now in many instances devoted to the ostentatious entertainment of Europeans; and generally the amount expended in useless alms is stated to have been greatly curtailed. The complete and cordial cooperation of the native gentry in promoting education and in furthering other oljects of public utility; the astonishing progress which a large body of Hindoo youth has made in the acquisitions of the English language, literature, and science; the degree in which they have conquered prejudices that might otherwise have been deemed the most inveterate, (the students in the medical class of the Hindoo College under Dr. Tytler, as well as in the medical native school under Dr. Breton, in which there are pupils of the highest castes, are said to dissect animals, and freely to handle the bones of a human skeleton); the freedom and the talent with which, in many of the essays we lately had exhibited to us, old customs are discussed; the anxiety evinced at Delhi and at Agra, and elsewhere, for the means of instruction in the English language; the readiness every where shewn to profit by such means of instruction as we have afforded; the facility with which the natives have adapted themselves to new rules and institutions; the extent to which they have entered into new speculations after the example of our countrymen; the spirit with which many are said to be now prosecuting that
branch of manufacture (indigo) which has alone as yet been fully opened to British enterprise; the mutual confidence which Europeans and Natives evince in their transactions as merchants and bankers: these, and other circumstances, leave in my mind no doubt that our native subjects would profit largely by a more general intercourse with intelligent and respectable Europeans, and would promptly recognise the advantage of it."
We have not space at present to advert to all the important measures now before Parliament, but hope during the recess to discuss several of them more at large, particularly one very momentous topic, which has already occupied many of our pages-the MULTIPLICITY OF OATHS in this country. The Bishop of London has given notice of a motion on the subject, which we feel persuaded will eventually lead to a legislative revision of the whole system. We abstain from the discussion of the question at present; but we copy from the newspapers the following report of his Lordship's speech. It contains the seeds of many things; and we rejoice to find that his Lordship's proposition has been hailed with gratitude throughout the land. We earnestly trust that our Universities will set the example of reform, in a matter so closely connected with the reverence due to God, and the conscience and morals of the country. It would be much to their honour, and to the just esteem of the Church of England, if, when the general inquiry comes on in Parliament, it shall be found that Oxford, Cambridge, and Trinity College (Dublin), have done all that was within their competency to correct the evil as regards their own jurisdiction, and had only stopped short where the authority of public legislation is necessary to enable them to effect their object. The report of his Lordship's speech is as follows.
"The Bishop of London wished to offer a few observations on the subject of oaths in general, as they were administered in this country. It was a matter of very great importance both in a religious and moral point of view, and he was extremely sorry that the attention of the Legislature had not been more directly called to it. A Bill had been brought in about two years ago by the Lord President of the Council, which in some degree lessened the evil to which he was adverting. He thanked the Noble Lord for that measure, because any measure which tended to diminish the taking of a great number of oaths was a public benefit. He could assure their Lordships, that there was a strong feeling on this subject amongst the religious part of the community in this country. He did not think that he was going too far when he said, that there was no country in the world in which this most solemn and sacred obligation was ad
ministered with less gravity, with less impressiveness, with less decorousness of manner, than it was in this country. The effect of the system had been well and truly described by Dr. Paley, who observed that 'the obscure and elliptical form, together with the levity and frequency with which oaths are administered, have brought about a general inadvertency to the obligation of them.' Dr. Paley alluded especially to the customs, and to the qualifications of petty officers; in both these cases a man could not proceed without taking half-a-dozen oaths;' and he contended that they ought to abstain from calling into requisition the sacred sanction of an oath, except on the most important occasions.' There were two species of oaths—assertory oaths and promissory oaths. Assertory oaths were necessary for the discovery and punishment of offences; whilst promissory oaths were not only not necessary, but were, in truth, productive of the worst effects. To this subject Dr. Paley had called the attention of the public more than forty years ago. The Bill brought in by the Noble Marquis to whom he had before alluded, had done away with the necessity for taking 10,000 oaths in a year, but still much of the evil remained. The municipal oaths ought to be revised; nine-tenths of them might, he was of opinion, be done away with, and a simple declaration introduced in their place. This very serious question had been pressed on the attention of the British people long before the time of Dr. Paley. It had been forcibly taken up by one of the most virtuous, learned, and eloquent men that ever adorned the Protestant Church,-he alluded to Bishop Jeremy Taylor. It was a subject well worthy of grave consideration; and in the next session of Parliament, if his life were so long spared, he would call the attention of the House to it, unless it were taken up by some noble Lord more competent than he was to undertake the task. The consideration of this subject ought, in his opinion, to be intrusted to a select Committee, or to a Royal Commission. He would here refer to another class of oaths, which appeared to him to be liable to great objection,- he adverted to the oaths taken in universities and schools. felt that to administer an oath to a young man, not of full age, except in cases where truth was judicially sought, was very objectionable. Certainly, promissory oaths should not be exacted from them. now publicly expressed a hope that, as this subject had been taken up in one of their universities, it would as soon as possible be entertained by the Legislature, who ought to inquire how far it was consistent with sound religion and right principles to enforce on young men, not of age, an obligation for the observance of duties the performance of which might be exacted by casier means."