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into the Baptist Academy in Bristol, which was then under the direction and management of Dr. Caleb Evans, assisted by the celebrated Robert Hall. Throughout the whole of the trials and conflicts which Mr. Hall endured at Bristol during that period, Mr. Hughes was his constant and invariable friend. A great cordiality subsisted between them to the end of life. Having studied at Bristol for some time, Mr. Hughes proceeded to Edinburgh University, in which he augmented his learning and took the degree of M. A. From the nothern capital he returned to Bristol, where his classical attainments procured for him the appointment of tutor in that department, thus succeeding his friend Hall. He continued to act as classical tutor until 1795, when, as Dr. Rippon informs us, the declining state of his health obliged him to leave Bristol. Soon after he received a call from the Baptist church at Battersea, near London; which he accepted; removing thither in the month of July 1796, and remaining there to the end of his protracted and valuable life.
During the first four years of his connection with the church at Battersea, he had under his roof several young men, whom he trained for the ministry. Amongst them was the celebrated Mr. Foster, who preached some of his earliest sermons in Mr. Hughes's pulpit.
Mr. Hughes's proximity to London could not fail to bring a man of so much talent and learning into contact with the associated efforts which were then in progress for disseminating the knowledge of the truth. He appears, at the beginning of the present century, to have been a member of the Committee of the Religious Tract Society (of which, indeed, he was the founder); in one of whose meetings it was that he threw out that suggestion which gave rise to the British and Foreign Bible Society-a Society which quickly took its place as the sun in the system of Christian benevolence, which now comprises so many and such brilliant orbs.
In the month of May, 1803, Mr. Hughes presented an impression of an essay, under the title of "The Excellence of the Holy Scriptures an Argument for their more general Dispersion." In this essay, which may be regarded as containing the rudiments of the future Society, the author expatiated on the transcendent excellency of the Holy Scriptures; enumerated the different Societies more or less concerned in promoting their circulation; and described the limitations of their respective constitutions, and their consequent inadequacy to the work of general distribution. He then represented the importance of an association of Christians at large, with a view exclusively to the circulation of the Holy Scriptures; and pointed out a number of advantages, both direct and collateral, which might be expected to result from the operation of such an institution.
The extensive circulation of Mr. Hughes's pamphlet having prepared the public mind for the formation of the Society, the steps by which this was to be accomplished were, in the beginning of the year 1804, considered and determined. It was but fit that he who gave birth to the infant institution, should give it a name. Some other person proposed that it should be called "The Society for promoting a more extensive Circulation of the Holy Scriptures both at Home and Abroad;" but, at the suggestion of Mr. Hughes, it received the more concise but equally comprehensive designation of "The British and Foreign Bible Society." At length a public meeting was called; and, on the 7th of March 1804, in the great room of the London Tavern, that Society was founded which, we trust, will not be destroyed until it shall have achieved the great object of its institution. When the choice of a secretary became the subject of discussion, Mr. Hughes was the first to be proposed. Mr. Owen, afterwards his colleague, objected to this proposal; and, in consequence, it was agreed that Mr. Hughes, Mr. Josiah Pratt (Mr. Owen then declining), and Mr. Steinkopff, should be respectively the Dissenting, Clerical, and Foreign Secretaries. In a short time, however, Mr. Owen made such arrangements as enabled him to take the place of Mr. Pratt, at the pressing solicitation of that gentleman. For nineteen years he laboured for the Society gratuitously; nor was he easily persuaded to accept of a salary when that measure of justice was forced upon him.
Mr. Hughes's ministerial and pastoral course affords but little room for observation. The facts, that during thirty-seven years he was the pastor of the (Baptist) church at Battersea, and that it was the only church with which he stood in that relation, comprise all that can be said in eulogy of his fidelity and zeal, and of the mutual affection between pastor and flock.
His death was caused by an inflammation of the right foot, which brought on distressing and at length fatal symptoms. After languishing for some weeks, on the 3d of October, with that serene fortitude and calm submission which had characterized him throughout his distressing malady, he entered into rest-that rest, the intelligence of which he had laboured so long and so successfully to spread throughout the globe. His medical attendants attributed his disorder principally to the decay of his constitution, that decay being the joint effect of age and labour.—Mr. Hughes was interred in Bunhill Fields, near the vault which contains the bodies of Dr. Lardner and Daniel Neal.
ON ADMINISTERING BAPTISM to ILLEGITIMATE CHILDREN. To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
HAVING read in your Number for October a letter inquiring upon what authority a Clergyman may refuse to baptize an illegitimate child, I feel myself called upon, as a Minister, to say something in reply. Not that I acknowledge myself the person of whom it is alleged "he sent away a mother in tears from the church, whilst at the same time he offered to administer the rite in private," but because I seem to be deeply implicated with my Reverend Brother (whoever he is that did so), having repeatedly refused to baptize infants on the ground of their illegitimacy, and hoping to pursue the same conduct, without fear of consequences, so long as I take my present view of the matter.
That your correspondent should inquire whether it is authorized by the laws of man, is not surprising; for it may perhaps puzzle many a churchman, and even a lawyer, to decide what is the legal requirement of our Church on the subject: but to ask whether it is sanctioned by the laws of God, is not what one would expect from any person who has searched the Scriptures, repairing to them as the fountain of truth and the only infallible source from whence those laws are to be learnt.
Surely it may be asked in return, Can any thing be found in the Bible to countenance such a practice in the church of Christ as the baptism of illegitimate infants, before the unhappy parents have given any satisfactory sign of repentance? If there is no direct precept, is there any thing which in an indirect manner may be construed, either by implication or apostolic example, into a Divine command? I think it must be allowed that the practice of the primitive churches was to excommunicate such members. The following passage appears most applicable: "Now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner: with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? Do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among you that wicked person" (1 Cor. v. 11-13). If this was the discipline of the church, how could they receive the infants of those offenders who were to be to it as "heathens?" (See Matt. xviii. 17.) On what ground or condition is infant baptism to be administered? No other, doubtless, than that the parents are privileged members of the church, being received into communion as true believers and saints in Christ Jesus. Otherwise the Apostles might and ought to have baptized all they could lay their hands upon; and so should Missionaries depart from their general rule of baptizing none but CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 384. 4 X
the children of believers. If, then, this is the only ground to go upon, it is impossible to receive illegitimate children whose parents have not returned into the bosom of the church; and it therefore appears to be the bounden duty of all ministers, when a woman has by notorious vice forfeited every privilege of the church, to refuse her request to baptize her infant. To reply, that the form of excommunication has not taken place, is a mere quibble. The poor woman has virtually excluded herself by her sin; and it appears, moreover, quite shocking that she should come in the face of the congregation and proclaim her offence, or, if not present herself, do it through the medium of others. That she should make her offering to Christ of a child "born of fornication," contrary to his holy laws (for surely every parent offers his child at baptism), and that she should call as it were upon Him, upon His ministering servant, and upon all His saints, to sanction and approve the deed, is to make Christ the minister of sin. This is Christian liberty indeed, far surpassing (in what way I need not stop to describe) the glorious liberty of the children of God. Let An Inquirer turn these things over in his mind; and let his imagination picture the whole transaction as it might be pourtrayed, and say whether his Christian feelings do not recoil with disgust and horror.
The duty is quite clear to my mind; and I therefore make it a rule to reject all such applications; hoping also that, by the blessing of God, it may be a check to vice. I will not conceal that it has cost me many very anxious hours; and I was not a little relieved and encouraged in lately hearing from a friend that the same practice is adopted by most of those ministers of the Church of Scotland who are conscientious in the discharge of their sacred duties.
How far I am authorized to act as I have described by the constitution of the Church of England, is another question; but I conceive that it is not difficult to shew that the word of God, on which that church is founded, condemns the practice of administering the ordinance of baptism to such candidates. To say that the refusal is shutting as it were the gates of heaven in the face of an innocent babe," is equivalent to the assertion that children are regenerated at baptism, and that without the administration of it they cannot enter the kingdom of God; that therefore we cannot withhold this essential privilege from any individuals whatever, under any circumstances, without exposing them to eternal perdition. I trust "An Inquirer" will not venture thus far, and yet his words seem only to bear that construction.
Should it be said that the infant is deprived by this exclusion of great advantages, I reply that this cannot be the case; for, in the first place, the parties concerned are only trifling with holy things, which would rather call down a curse than a blessing; and further, there is no reason to hope that any of them would feel themselves more bound by such a dedication of the child to bring it up "to lead a godly and a Christian life." The whole would be a solemn mockery, and no advantage could be expected to accrue to any party. But, on the contrary, the refusal might prove the greatest blessing to the child in after life, when he learnt the reason why he did not receive Christian baptism in common with other persons. might be made the means of causing him to think seriously, when he considered the cause and felt the importance of seeking baptism for himself. He might be brought at last to seek it, confessing his sins, and believing in the atoning blood of "the Lamb of God" for their remission: whereas, in the other case, he might have remained in his impenitence and unbelief, flattering himself that he had been received as "a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven." I would further add, that the child loses nothing by this exclusion from the
outward ordinance, for I feel as much bound to attend to the instruction 703 and spiritual welfare of illegitimate children as of any others; though, I regret to say, the difficulty is often greater with them, on account of the indifference and wickedness of the parents, and other unfavourable circumstances incident to their unhappy situation.
But as it regards the Church of England, how is it that a child should be received when the parent does not at the same time partake in the service of Thanksgiving appointed for Women? I believe I am correct in saying that they never are admitted; and if exclusion is right in the one case, why is it not in another? It is the parent who offers the child, though the sponsors stand as sureties; and if the Church deems her unfit to approach in one case, why not in the other?
The Marriage Service may be a useful guide to us in this question. The Church considers the parties "joined together" by God, through her ministration, and certainly looks forward that the children who are the fruit of that holy union will join her communion as members, strongly implying that others ought not. on the "causes for which matrimony was ordained," and also the prayer, This will be seen by consulting what is said which contains these words, "that they may see their children christianly and virtuously brought up, to thy praise and honour, through Jesus Christ our Lord." The Service for Churching of Women is intended to follow this, and to be used exclusively for a married person whom God has blessed in answer to the prayers of the church in the former service: and the service of Baptism for Infants is likewise intended expressly for children whom God hath given; and if it is ever to be used on other occasions, surely it would be only when a mother is recognised as a true member of Christ's church, having given satisfactory evidence of her repentance and faith.
Looking, then, at these services, in connexion one with the other, I cannot but infer that our Church, if she does not expressly forbid the baptism of illegitimate infants, by no means requires it; but, on the contrary, implies as strongly as possible that they should not be received. The Sixty-eighth Canon, therefore, cannot apply in this case, for the baptism of such infants is by no means " according to the Book of Common Prayer;" and, consequently, the minister may " refuse or delay to christen," without danger of penalty. Should this view, however, be found to be indefensible, the Scriptural ground remains the same; and I trust that God will help me, and all other ministers of the Church of England (which I love from my heart, notwithstanding all her spots and wrinkles), to stand firm on such ground, fearless of any consequences which may arise in this sinful and transitory world.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
In reference to the intention of the Church of England with regard to the
remptory in this matter. The case of illegitimate children is not mentioned ; and even if it were, the Church of England, whether rightfully or not—which is not the present question-does not regard the parents, but only the sponsors; expressly enjoining, in her Twenty-ninth Canon, that "no parent shall be urged to be present, nor be admitted to answer as godfather for his own child." If, then, three or more pious and charitable persons-the parents consenting are willing to pledge themselves to bring up the unhappy child in the fear of God, the Church would not, I conclude, refuse baptism in consequence of the sin of the parents, whose relationship to the infant is not even noticed in the service. At all events, the minister has no legal right to refuse without legal evidence. The child is brought to him for baptism; and if he refuse to baptize, upon a surmise that the parents are unmarried, he ought to have them duly presented and dealt with in the ecclesiastical court: and then, the evidence being duly weighed and judicially pronounced upon, he will at least have some ground for his decision. But he has no right to conclude upon mere hearsay that the child was illegitimate: the parties might possibly, for aught he knows to the contrary, be legally married in some other parish: and, moreover, in the sight of God, and according to his laws, a mutual pledge makes a binding contract, and the violation of it is adultery, even though the parties never openly ratified their vows, as they were bound to do, before God and the congregation. The public form is for public objects, both civil and religious, and must on every ground be observed: but the essence of the obligation is the mutual compact, which would be binding on the parties though there were no third person to witness it; a doctrine not only Scriptural, but, I might say, recognised by our courts of law, in granting damages for breach of contract.
There is an obvious distinction between churching and baptism. The former is only an ecclesiastical rite, excellent, but not scripturally binding; the latter is a Divine ordinance and sacrament, which no man can interfere with to set aside: the former regards the party herself, the latter her unoffending offspring. The clergyman might possibly be justified in asking for the certificate of marriage in the case of an unmarried woman coming to return thanks; but neither she nor her associate in vice canonically appears before him when a child is presented by its sponsors for baptism.
These considerations may not lead to any conclusive result; but they at least offer matter for serious reflection, before a clergyman should decide against baptizing illegitimate children.
REMARKS ON ABBOTT'S "YOUNG CHRISTIAN."
To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
THE review of Abbott's "Young Christian," in your Number for March, induced me to read the work, which I did with very great interest, though I could not but notice some deficiencies and inaccuracies, which, in a book likely to become so generally and so deservedly popular, appeared to me to be by no means unimportant.
The edition which I read was not either of those mentioned in your pages; but in the copy which I subsequently obtained, in order to look for some of the passages on which I thought it right to remark, I was agreeably surprised to find that several of them-such as the illustration of the nature of faith by the story of Regulus; that of the storm at sea, and the prayer offered in consequence of it, &c.—are omitted in the abridged edition published by the Tract Society. I say I was agreeably surprised by this circumstance, because it gave me reason to believe that the same