« PrécédentContinuer »
vagaries as solid truths. And even the early church may sometimes have been saved from rash and hasty conclusions, by the presence of one who would look at both sides before he believed.
And even for our own sakes we cannot attach too much importance to the position of Thomas among the twelve. If we are to believe a Renan or a Strauss, the first disciples were weakminded enthusiasts, who were as ready to multiply miracles without inquiry, as the half-taught Christians of the Middle Ages. But if they had been as ready to believe as some suppose, it would sadly weaken the foundations of our faith ; and still more would this be the case if, as it is too often the case now,
it had been recognized among them as a sin, for any one to ask for further evidence, and suspend his judgment for further light. But the presence of Thomas, and the consistent course pursued by him, are proofs that this was not the case. They were not blind fanatics, ready to believe anything without inquiry; nor was it the highest virtue in their esteem to believe, however weak and insufficient the evidence might be. Thomas, at least
, is a proof of this. And when modern scepticism is so ready to imagine that it has swept away all the foundations on which we have been accustomed to rest, by telling us that the Apostles lived in "an uncritical age,” it is a fact of no little importance that we can point to at least one critic among the twelve, whose mind instinctively took in both sides, whose caution increased with his anxiety to believe ; who stood aloof from his dearest friends in a time of the greatest emergency, because he could not honestly say that he was satisfied with the evidence they were able to adduce; who never concealed a difficulty, or lost an opportunity of asking for the light he wanted; but who, for all that, was one of the firmest believers in Christ, ready to die with Him or die for Him, and the very first to gain so deep an insight into His divine nature as to exclaim, “My Lord and my God." Nottingham.
TOPICS OF THE MONTH.
On the first Monday in April the funds went down one per cent., and there was something like a panic upon Change. The ostensible causes of the fright were the probability of another continental war, and the announcement in the Times that morning, that the Mediterranean fleet had been ordered from Malta to Cadiz to enforce our claims against Spain, for the illegal seizure of two British ships, which had been captured by Spanish revenue cutters far outside Spanish waters, illegally condemned, their cargoes estreated, and their crews badly used. The Spaniards had, in fact, taken to the trade of piracy. But there was really nothing either in the dispute about Luxembourg or in our quarrel with Spain to warrant any decline in the funds. With the war between France and Prussia---if it had broken out there was no possibility of our being involved, and it was absolutely certain that Spain would have to give way, and make terms with us. The Spanish Court and Ministry could not afford to ground a quarrel upon so unrighteous a cause. The truth is that our own trade is in so unsatisfactory a condition that the slightest disturbance is enough to throw speculators into a cold sweat, and to renew the panic of last year. The Luxembourg difficulty is now referred to the great European Powers not immediately interested-Russia, Austria, and England, and we cannot bring ourselves to believe that a war will arise out of it. As for Spain, she has already eaten the leek, making the required apology and restitution ; for the appearance of a British fleet in one of her ports would have been the signal of a revolution, which would have ended the rule of Narvaez, and, perhaps, of his royal mistress also. Yet it is not by any number of revolutions that that unhappy country can achieve liberty. The hope of Spanish regeneration lies with the small but increasing and fervent band of “Gospellers" who now sing songs by night in the cellars of Malaga, meet in caves and dens of the earth, print the New Testament under cover of the darkness, and are resolute in their determination to make their countrymen acquainted with the riches of Christ.
The public interest has been divided this month between the Reform debates in Parliament--the results of which we have discussed in a separate article--and the Jamaica trials. Mr. Eyre has been arraigned before a bench of Shropshire justices, who have refused to put him on his trial; and a London grand jury have ignored the bill preferred against Colonel Nelson and Lieutenant Brand for their part in the illegal execution of G. W. Gordon. If Mr. Eyre had been the party charged in London, we do not believe that even the half-educated, half-principled London stockbrokers and dealers who formed the Grand Jury at the Central Criminal Court, would have ventured to throw out the Bill after the charge of the Lord Chief Justice; but Nelson and Brand were but secondaries in the affair, acting under orders, to whom nobody could impute malice, and Sir A. Cockburn's closing sentences, in which he told the jurors that " if
they were of opinion that the accused ought not to be harassed by further criminal proceedings, they could say there was no true bill,” gave them a fair opportunity to indulge their anti-nigger prejudices. The Chief Justice declared that the court by which Mr. Gordon was tried was not a court-martial at all. There was no Judge-Advocate; it contained officers of both services, contrary to the rules; it was an association of individuals arbitrarily named for the purposes of the trial; and the evidence on which Mr. Gordon was condemned was absolutely worthless; yet the responsibility of Nelson and Brand does seem to be, in a measure, covered by the fact that their superiors ordered them to proceed with the trial, that the evidence was submitted to General O'Connor and Mr. Eyre, and that their verdict was endorsed by both of them. As to Mr. Eyre, however, the Chief Justice, in his masterly charge, distinctly laid down that he was guilty of an open breach of law in seizing Mr. Gordon in a district not under martial law, in order to put him under its provisions ; that he was guilty of a further breach of law in ordering him to be tried by a kind of law not in existence at the time his alleged offence was committed ; and that the trial itself, for which Mr. Eyre was altogether responsible, and of which he has more than once ostentatiously assumed the entire responsibility, was a mockery of both law and justice. “If,” said Sir A. Cockburn, "Mr. Gordon had not been hung, he might have brought an action for false imprisonment, and a jury would have awarded him exemplary damages for the wrong done him." We rejoice to know that Mr. Eyre will yet be brought to trial: first, as a misdemeanant under the Colonial Government Act, and, secondly, as a defendant in two actions which will be brought by gentlemen from Jamaica, who were treated just as Gordon was treated, save that they were not hung; and to whom, therefore, we shall expect to find a British jury awarding "exemplary damages for the wrong done them.” We, say, we rejoice to know that Mr. Eyre will yet be put upon his trial, because justice has not yet been done in as flagrant a case of wrong, oppression, and cruelty as stands even upon our Colonial annals. The principles of English law may, perhaps, have been sufficiently vindicated by the magnificent charge of the Lord Chief Justice. The outcry of British Christianity, the recall of the Governor, the censure upon the military and naval officers engaged, and the entire change in the government of Jamaica may have sufficiently attested the resolve of Englishmen that coloured people shall have equal rights in all places of our dominion; but in the case of G. W. Gordon justice has not been done. The resolution of Mrs. Gordon not to prosecute the murderers of her husband has placed difficulties in the way.
The Jamaica Committee could only seek the re-assertion of principles of justice and law; and the singular fastidiousness of the counsel they employed made it comparatively easy for the Shropshire justices to screen the friend and guest in whom they could see only the victim of vulgar Radical negrophile persecution. Had Mr. Fitzjames Stephens boldly charged Mr. Eyre with murder, in the ordinary sense of that term, adducing proof of Mr. Eyre's ill-will to Gordon, and of his determination to get him out of the way, even Sir Baldwin Leighton would scarcely have dared to refuse his signature to the warrant of committal.
In the Daily News of the 20th April, appeared a letter froin the Hon. George Price, a member of the late Legislative Council in Jamaica, a member of the Privy Council, and once upon a time an official adviser of Mr. Eyre. He was stirred to write by seeing a passage from Mr. Eyre's letter to Mr. Cardwell again brought under public notice. In this letter Mr. Eyre says, "Mr. Gordon was universally regarded as a bad man, in every sense of the word. Reported to be grossly immoral and an adulterer, a liar, a swindler, dishonest, cruel, vindictive, and a hypocrite; such are the terms applied to the late G. W. Gordon, and I believe abundant proof might be adduced of all these traits.” Mr. Price declares that Mr. Gordon was none of these things; and that Mr. Eyre, instead of believing that evidence could be brought to prove their truth, knew that they were false. Mr. Eyre had already been rebuked by the Duke of Newcastle for maligning Mr. Gordon. Yet up to the time of his death he had never ventured to attribute to him the vile characteristics by which he would now seek to convey the impression that he was best hung. It was well understood in the colony that Mr. Eyre's bitter feelings towards Gordon were caused by his exposure and defeat of the great " Tramway swindle,” for which Mr. Eyre had taken the utmost pains to gain legislative sanction. Mr. Price does not hesitate to say that “Mr. Eyre's refusal to give Mr. Gordon the patient trial before a civil court,' urged so strongly at the last moment by Mr. Eyre's chief adviser, gives rise to suspicions far more grave than those lately suggested by the Chief Justice.” “On Mr. Eyre's appeal to the black constituency, Mr. Gordon came into the Assembly for the express purpose of exposing the Tramway swindle,' in which he succeeded. Those constituencies were disfranchised, and Mr. Gordon was hung—both by Mr. Eyre !"
THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND AND CHRISTIANITY.
To the Editor of the Christian SPECTATOR. Sır,-- In the CHRISTIAN SPECTAtor for March, in an article on the Conference between the Working Men and the Churches, I read the following :-"Mr. Nevile's published opinion that the Church of England, as at present constituted, creates through the nation more of unbelief than of faith, is deserving of the consideration of all who have at heart the conversion and salvation of their fellowcountrymen."
I am troubled by this paragraph, in which an opinion of mine is given without any reasons or arguments in support of it. In as short å space as I can, I will attempt a justification. At this conference I ventured to say that, in my humble judgment and according to my experience, the working class were, upon the whole, not inferior to any other class. I consider them quite equal to those above them in New Testament, if not in legal honesty: they are far less selfish, more patient under injustice or suffering, and more liberal to others according to their means. Their severe labour and special temptations, the miserable dwellings in which many of them are compelled to dwell, and the great fluctuations in their rate of wages, render them especially liable to indulgence in drink, and, perhaps, to other sins or failings, from which the church and chapel-going respectability of the nation may be less exposed; I do not myself feel that we are in a position to address them as inferiors, in their duty to either God or man. I will, however, assume that, as a class, they have turned a deaf ear to the Christianity which has been preached to them. Let us investigate how far it is probable that the Church Establishment is responsible for this.
I am impressed with the conviction that, so far from the inclination of the working classes being to rebel against the opinions or authority of those above them, it is exactly the contrary. They are, if any. thing, too ready to place dependence on leaders, superior to themselves in education and influence, but upon this one condition—that they are thoroughly satisfied as to the sincerity of these leaders.
The great object of a Church Establishment is to teach Christian truth. An immense revenue is paid, in various proportions, to a select body of ministers, who profess to belong to one united church.
The working classes well know that every minister is compelled to subscribe to a most elaborate and comprehensive set of doctrinal articles and services, with the express and avowed object of securing uniformity of doctrinal teaching. They also know that these ministers are divided into three great parties, who have been mutually accusing