« AnteriorContinuar »
tionately recommending his associates in this task to the esteem of the Christian world, not only as the messengers of the churches, but the glory of Christ +
My readers will forgive me if I feel warm on such a topic as this ; but I cannot suppress my concern at the exhibition of such a misapplied appeal to a false principle of dignity, in a Protest publicly delivered by a person in ecclesiastical authority: and which may be read by all the different classes of persons in this country, many of whom are ready enough to impute to us a disposition to overvalue the temporal distinctions connected with our national church. If there be any ground on which the rich and the poor may properly meet together, surely it is on the ground of that benevolence which ministers to the wants of our common nature. The collectors of the Church Missionary Society to whom the reverend author alludes, may not be persons of elevated rank or station, but are they to be considered as disqualified for fellowship with a benevolent society, because, frequently under the pressure of laborious occupations, and perhaps amidst many exigencies, they devote a portion of their time to gather the contributions of their neighbours; thus retaining, unabated, their zeal for God and their love toward man? Yet these are the characters concerning whom the Archdeacon of Bath - in publicly addressing an audience of which they might be supposed to form a part, and with all the solemnity of official censure, aided by the deliberation of previous composition-scrupled not to say, that they could not be “ elevated into Members of a Church of England Society,” without derogating from the dignity of the church. Members of a Church of England Society! Wherefore not, if they may be members of the Church of England herself; of whom, as of her Divine Master, it is the characteristic that she opens the mysteries of the Gospel wide to the unlearned and the poor? Wherefore not, if they may one day be members of the general assembly and church of the first-born, where we are told that many of the last shall be first, and of the first last ?” Wherefore not, if they may
4 2 Cor. viii.
be members of Christ himself, who is the Head of the Church, and who has condescended to say, Inasmuch as ye did it to the least of these my brethren, ye did it unto me?
3. The remaining objections of the Archdeacon will require only a brief notice. They are of that general and desultory kind which it is not difficult for any writer to affix on any
For instance, when he is pleased to denominate the chief friends of the Church Missionary Society, a “ sect,” and to resolve its supporters into a “ party” in the church, there is no considerate reader who will not immediately perceive, that, if we were to condescend to the use of language of this vague and injurious nature, it might not be difficult for us to find epithets in retaliation. But the only questions I ask, are-Are the doors of the Church Missionary Society closed to any member of the Church of England whatever? Or are there any of its rules which in the remotest way allude to any doctrines distinct from those of the Church of England ? If not, then I submit it to every candid reader, I submit it to the calm reflection of the Archdeacon himself, whether in attempting to affix the name of “ party" where all party is excluded by the very constitution of the Society, he has himself been wholly free from that spirit which he ventures to reprobate.
But I forbear to enlarge; for really, whatever the reverend author may think of our feelings for the Church of England, I am deeply concerned that the Church should be so much injured by one who professes to be more than ordinarily interested for her welfare. Surely the language of the Archdeacon tends directly to disincline the whole country to the performance of one of its highest duties, the engaging in active exertions for the salvation of mankind. The establishment of the Church Missionary
Society has been the first attempt in our own times, to assist in redeeming the church from the reproach of neglect and indifference towards the heathen world, and it is lamentable to reflect, that this first attempt should be met with prejudice, and misrepresentation, and obloquy.
The Archdeacon, again, when he proceeds to ask why only two prelates of the church have espoused our cause, in fact asks, why certain dignitaries have not as yet joined a voluntary benevolent society. He might as well ask why only fourteen bishops were found in the lists of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge in the year 1756, sixty years after its establishmerft, when the British and Foreign Bible Society, in a fourth part of that time, engaged an equal number of prelates in its support;-or why so many prelates still decline uniting themselves with the two Archbishops and the Bishop of London in the support of the Naval and Military Bible Society ;-or, indeed, why any other number of dignitaries have not stood forward in befriending any other charitable institutions. This, if I may adopt the Archdeacon's words, is a mystery easily fathomed, when we reflect that new institutions in the church are at first candidates for the patronage of its distinguished members; who doubtless consider that there is an evident advantage in allowing
such societies to go through a noviciate, before they pledge themselves in their support.
On the subject of the Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of Calcutta’s not espousing the Society's Mission in India, the Reverend the Archdeacon avows his ignorance. It may be proper, then, to mention, that the proceedings of our Society there were entered on long before the establishment of that see; and that the peculiar delicacy of the Bishop's situation, in a scene perfectly novel, and where he has perhaps to consider the prejudices of many European residents against the propagation of Christianity among the natives, has prevented his Lordship from countenancing in so ostensible and prominent a manner as might have been expected, even the missions of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, on the very spot where they have been labouring for so long a series of years. In fact, his Lordship, we believe, considers himself as appointed, to superintend exclusively the chaplains and churches under the authority of the Company. Over English clergymen, not chaplains, officiating in India, he has not as yet assumed the episcopal authority. It is manifest, from the whole tenor of our Society's proceedings, that we shall rejoice when his Lordship shall see it expedient to do so. In the mean time, all our missionaries are under the protection and legal regulations of the seve