Obrazy na stronie

application of its means? Supposing that led, twenty, thirty, or forty years ago, the bishops and the clerical and lay members of this society had united in recommending, both publicly and privately, to Government, and in proposing and supporting in Parlia ment, a judicious plan for the general education of the poor, similar to that which exists in Scotland; would they not have done far more extensive good than can have been effected by the gift of a few books or a little money to any number of charity schools? Would they not also have shut out much evil? There would then have been no room fa sach extensive schemes of education as we witness in the present day, of a character which many consider as hostile to the Esta bishment. The whole ground would have been occupied. Education would have become a common good, like the air we breathe; and we should have had ere now an universally instructed peasantry, taught to fear God and honour the King; to read their Bibles, and to learn thence their duties both to God and man. But let it not be supposed that we deem the Lancasterian schools an evil; far from it Under all the circumstances of the case, we deem them a great good. They have done much in the great work of education, which would otherwise have been left undone; and they have unquestionably had the effect of producing the National Education Society, which, we trust, will complete what still remains to be ac plished. But will any one now deny, that it would have been infinitely better had the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, at an earlier period, employed its imease power and influence in organizing a geral system of education for the poor? And even if their plans had met with some sance in Parliament in the first instance, under the auspices of the whole episcopal each, they could not fail to have been ultiately realized.

Bat why refer to a neglect which is now memediable? We do it for no invidious e. We do it for the purpose of deucing, from past experience, an important tation with respect to the future. The Sedely must see how much ground has been by its having failed to exert its influace for the establishment of an universal e of education for the poor. It is not late, however, to repair a considerable put of the evil. There is still a large poron of our English population, and a still larger proportion of the population in Ireand and in the colonial possessions of the Crow, who are destitute of the means of CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 124. 1

Christian education. Let the whole weight of this institution (and to what labour of love would not its power be equal?) be ap plied to remedy this defect, by means of some well-digested legislative provisions, which shall put it within the reach of every poor man in the British dominions to learn to read his Bible. Is this impossible? Let the attempt be at least made with zeal and unanimity. If the Society should fail, it will fail gloriously. But we cannot believe that it would fail in such a cause. If every thing should not be gained which might be desired, enough, we are persuaded, would be gained to reward so blessed an effort. We highly esteem the exertions of voluntary societies in the work of education, but only as a substitute for more efficient means—as supplying the state's lack of service. But is it not at once obvious, how much a single act. of Parliament, which should enact that every parish in the land should be bound to provide Christian education as well as bodily sustenance for its poor, would exceed in efficiency, and in extent of benefit, all the efforts of all the voluntary societies which have been formed, or may yet be formed, for the purpose of educating the poor?

2. Much praise is also due to this society for the large number of Bibles, Prayer-books, and other pious books which it has been the means of dispersing. But how much it had left to be done in respect at least to the supply of Bibles it is needless to point out. Another society has arisen, which in seven years has dispersed more Bibles than the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge had done in seventy. We mention this, not with a view to undervalue its past labours, which have been most important, but to urge it to increased exertion; to urge it by means of the bishops to ascertain, as nearly as pos sible, the wants of the poor in every hamlet in the United Kingdom; to avail itself of its own resources and of those of other societies, particularly the Bible Society, for supplying these wants; to lay aside its unfounded jealousy of that Society, and to cooperate cordially with it in effecting their common end of saturating the world with Bibles; to use its influence with government to provide the navy and army, (and here we anticipate the fourth head), as well as our garrisons, national hospitals, depots, &c. with Bibles and Prayer-books; and to avail itself of the influence it could command with governors and commanders in our colonies and dependencies, with ambassadors and consuls abroad, for diffusing the light of Christian truth in every quarter of the globe.

2 K

We could certainly wish also that the list of the Society's tracts were purged of certain exceptionable articles, and that care should be taken not only to fashion every tract which it issued according to the model of our Liturgy, Articles, and Homilies, but that all should breathe an air of Christian kindness and conciliation.

3. The efforts of the Society for evangelizing India, have certainly been among the most honourable of its good deeds. We have so largely and with such satisfaction recorded the transactions of its missionaries in this quarter, that we need not now enter into details respecting them. But will it be allowed us to remark how much more the Society might have done in this important branch of service than it appears to have thought of? What might not the concurrent voice of the bench of bishops and of the other members of this Society have effected, on the occasions of renewing the East India Company's charter, towards promoting Christian knowledge in the East? Look at the immense empire of India at this moment, with only three churches in its whole extent belonging to the Church of England; with a scanty appointment, it is true, of military chaplains, but without any meaus of Christian discipline which is adequate to the wants even of a twentieth part of our Christian population; without a single seminary for the instruction of Christian ministers; without a single bishop to give them ordination, when instructed. Look at this, and say if there has not been some defect of zeal in this Society. We could not have done any thing, some one may say. But what have you attempted to do? Former opportunities are not, however, to be recalled. The past years of darkness, which but for our supineness might have been illumined, will, indeed, return no more. But has not the Society, at this very moment, an opportunity afforded to it of signalizing itself as one of the best benefactors of mankind? It has now an opportunity of interceding for India. Its voice, if exerted, must be heard. Let it not be insensible to its high destiny; but by a judicious, firm, and concurrent effort, let it unbar the passage of light to British India, and provide the means of diffusing it there. What a splendid prospect lies before the Society! This would be, indeed, to crown itself with glory, to entitle itself to the everlasting gratitude of perishing but rescued millions! Let it pursue this course, and it must rise to undisputed and unenvied distinction; nor would any of its members be more forward than ourselves to join in its triumphs and exalt its fame.

We have sometimes been accused of being cold and niggardly in our praise of this Society, while we have been warm in our expressions of approbation with respect to other societies. We admit the fact, and we think we have said enough to justify it. When we see the Moravians, for example, struggling with poverty and difficulties of various kinds, making unexampled sacrifices, and unexampled efforts, to the utmost extent of their means, yea, and beyond their means, to extend the knowledge of a crucified Redeemer, we inust feel, and feeling must But express our admiration of them. measuring, as we ought, the good done by any society by its means of doing good, we do feel that the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge has not acted up to the just expectations which its extensive means of usefulness excite. It may have done more than any other society, but still it has not done, in our opinion, one tenth of what it might have effected. Its influence has not been exerted, in the accomplishment of its own professed designs, in such a manner as to render those designs effectual; and hence our comparative coldness. Let it put forth its real strength and efficiency, and we shall be among the first to feel and to acknowledge its claims to general gratitude and admiration. We wish it to be not only the oldest, but the best and most active and most useful of our institutions; and in order to this, to us nothing seems wanting, not even additional funds, but only the fair, firm, and concurrent employment of the influence which it possesses with Government, in Parliament, and with the country at large, to accredit, and to carry into full effect, those very schemes of Christian benevolence, on which alone is founded its claim to the public support.


We have taken several opportunities of bringing this society to the knowledge of our readers. A fresh report of its proceedings has recently been published, exhibiting, as on former occasions, a variety of those cases of extreme poverty and distress among our Clergy which present the most powerful claims on the benevolence of Christians. A few extracts, however, from the correspondence will speak more on the subject than a volume of reflections.

One clergyman thus writes: "Nothing but the indigence of myself, wife, and children, would have prevailed upon me to apply. If t were possible for me to provide for them

food and raiment by any other means, without forsaking the work allotted me by the Lord in his church, I would not trouble you. I assure you, I covet not riches nor delicacies, as far as I know myself; but it grieves me to the heart when I cannot pay what I owe when due, and am constrained to borrow, as is often the case. Neither doth it trouble me though we have five fine children (three sons and two daughters); though I have nothing worth the mentioning to leave them, having spent all my days upon a poor curacy that was not sufficient, in the cheapest times, to support us with common necessaries, without the help of friends. My present curacy is only 364; and if I consider the expense of keeping a horse for the purpose, not 30l. I leave my poor children to God; he is an all-sufficient portion; and we do every thing we can to put them in a way to get their own livelihood. The blessed work prospers in my parishes. The major part of the inhabitants in both parishes have set up family-prayer since my coming among them, which is a great blessing, and I hope others will follow their good example; for without family religion all other pretences to it seem to be vain. Both I and my house will serve the Lord,' saith Jeshua.

"Our worldly circumstances are low and distressing, having unavoidably contracted debts to the amount of upwards of 301. every article of subsistence being excessive dear."

Another. "I am now curate of-; my salary exceeds not 301. as the living is small, and my patron rather of low circumstances. Also I have been out of employment all the last winter; and have a wife and ten children, nine of whom depend daily on me to find them bread. Now hoping the same spirit to be in your bosoms, I am once more encouraged, and take that boldness to solicit the pious gentlemen of the committee (through you, dear Sir, by whose means, in the hands of the Lord, I have been relieved many times before), for any sum they please to appoint for me."

A third. "Surrounded by a family of seven little ones, the eldest only six years and a half old, and the dearness of the several necessaries of life, have almost overwhelmed me with despair. Yet, let me not forget His goodness, who provides for the raven, and providently caters for the sparrow. My curacy has not, till within these last twelve months, exceeded 25. a year. 1 serve at present three churches, attended with a walk of nearly sixteen miles; salary 754. a year.

The profits of my school and almost half my salary, are swallowed in rent and taxes."


A fourth. "I am still curate of ny salary is not increased; that is, 301. a year; eight in family to be supported; myself, wife, and six children (all boys); my eldest son is about ten years of age, and my youngest about twelve months; they are all of them incapable of earning their bread, but they wear and tear a great deal of clothes, more than my salary is able to support, and I am very often ashamed to see them all in rags about my house. I have been myself very badly afflicted with an ague this sum mer, but thank God I begin to recover a little, and my eyes are very bad indeed, and am obliged to wear spectacles, but I have not been able to buy a pair for myself yet; but am resigned to the will of my Heavenly Father, and wait with patience till my change come."

One more case, and we have done."I am truly distressed to inform you, that our troubles and trials are growing fast along with our family; having now four children, and the youngest but little more than twelve months old, with another coming. My salary for four churches, 45l. 10s.; rent, taxes, &c. 16l. 8s. 6d. The amount of our debt I cannot at present ascertain; having last week purchased a horse, which is unpaid for; I am afraid that it is considerably above 401. Since last April we had been without one; but now, winter approaching, I thought it impossible to do without one. We are now in immediate want of many articles of wearing apparel, without any possibility of obtaining them, unless by timely providential aid. These things are indeed trying; but, praised and adored be our dear Redeemer's name, we have experienced Him to be unto strength in weakness, a ready help in every time of need."


[ocr errors]

We have been favoured with the following statement of "Reasons for establishing, at the present time, a Prayer-book and Homily Society, for the sole purpose of distributing gratis, and circulating at reduced prices, the Prayer-book and Homilies of the united Church of England and Ireland among the people of the British empire, and particularly in his Majesty's army and navy, and in our colonies and dependencies;" and we have much pleasure in laying them before our readers.

"Notwithstanding the endeavours of the

two great and excellent societies, for promoting Christian Knowledge, and for the Distribution of the Holy Scriptures, it has appeared to several persons, anxious to promote the prosperity of the Church of England, and the interests of true religion, that there is still room for increased exertion. There are still some objects, which, either from the constitution of one of those societies are necessarily and upon principle excluded, or from the variety of claims upon the benevolent attention of the other have been hitherto only partially accomplished. Among these, that of more widely circulating the Prayer-book, and the Homilies of the Church of England, both in separate sermons and in the entire volume, has appeared peculiarly important.

"It is proposed, therefore, that a society should be formed, for the sole purpose of circulating those formularies, without note or comment, among the inhabitants of the United Kingdom, her colonies and depens dencies; and especially among the army and navy. Such a society, from the simple and definite nature of its plan, from the evident importance of its objects, and from the apparent impossibility of any difference of opinion, among churchmen, concerning them, appears calculated not only to be extremely useful, but also to unite all the friends of our Establishment in its favour and it might especially look for patronage and cooperation from the dignitaries of the Church, from the members of the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, and from the Church members of the Bible Society.

"I. To the Homilies perhaps, more than to any other compositions, the establishment of Protestantism in the hearts of the people of England may, under Providence, be ascribed. So highly important were they thought by the Fathers of our Church, that originally a copy of them was deposited in every established place of worship, for the perusal and instruction of the people. And in our own times ample testimony has been borne to their excellence and utility by Bishop Horsley, by the present Bishop of Lincoln, and by Dr. Hey, the Norrisian Professor of Divinity. Yet from the multifarious nature of the benevolent designs pursued by the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, the Homilies have never been included in the list of its publications.

"It is doubtless from the same cause, that its circulation of Prayer-books, although much augmented of late years, has not been equal to the increasing wants of the people, especially of the army and navy, and of the

inhabitants of our colonies and dependencies. Among these last, it is probable that in consequence of the exertions, of the Bible So cieties, the new society may be called upon to distribute versions of the unrivalled com positions which it is their object to spread. A translation of the Liturgy into the Hindostanee and Tamul has already been effected; and many other languages might be named, which are spoken by people, among. whom the doctrines of the Church may now reasonably be expected to extend to say nothing of the Irish, Manks, and Welsh languages. It would obviously be difficult for, the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge to pay full attention to these specific objects, without withdrawing it from others. of great importance and utility.

"On these accounts it has seemed, ex pedient, that the principle of the division of labour, which has been found so effectual in secular affairs, should be applied to those of a religious nature; and it is probable that the usual benefits would accrue to all the parties concerned.

"While such an institution, therefore, as that now proposed, would (it is presumed) greatly forward the intentions of the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, it would, from the definite nature of its ob jects, have no occasion to employ a ballot in the admission of members:-and it seems for this reason to be the best method of securing the co-operation of many, who, from their objections to such a mode of elec tion, are prevented from joining themselves with that highly useful society. Thus in a variety of ways it will afford to the members of that body an opportunity of promoting their excellent objects by new means not hitherto within their reach, and will procure for them an accession of fellow labourers in the great work, in which they are engaged.

"II. With respect to the Church members of the Bible Society who have been so actively and honourably employed in distributing and circulating the pure word of God, in all countries and amongst all classes of persons, it is humbly yet confidently antici pated, that they will not deny their patronage to an institution, which has for its object, to diffuse more widely the formularies of the Church, which, in their estimation, can be deemed inferior only to the Bible itself, and for which, their zealous exertions have much increased the demand.

"III. To the dignitaries and ministers of the Church generally, as well as to that vast body of the laity who are cordially attached to her, a Society, whose views tend to unite all parties within her extensive pale, in on

great, simple and orthodox design of a strictly definite nature, may justly hope to be ac ceptable. It may justly hope to establish itself in their hearts and affections, and to engage their zealous assistance;—because it directly tends to unite under the banners of the Church (for the evident and unequivocal promotion of genuine religion), the zeal and exertions of all her members,

Finally, an humble confidence is entertained, that by the combined exertions of the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, of the British and Foreign Bible Society, of the Naval and Military Bible Society, of the National Society for the Educa tion of the Poor, and of the proposed Prayer book and Homily Society, and other institutions of a similar nature; the ancient fabric of the Church will be cemented by inutual charity and brotherly love, and immoveably fixed in the hearts of the people."

It is added, that "A general meeting of such persons as are favourable to the designs of this society, is appointed to be held on Wednesday, May 20, at the Freemason's Tavern, Queen Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields." The chair to be taken at two o'clock precisely.

It will naturally be expected that we should not dismiss so very important a proposition as this, without a few observations. In the first place, then, we deem it right to say, that the projected society has our cordial and unmixed approbation, Its plan may be considered as new. It not only excludes from the sphere of its exertion every composition to which the Church of England has not given its authoritative sanction, but it proposes to introduce into general circulation a part of her formularies, namely, the Homilies, which have not hitherto been made the object of distribution by any preceding institution in this metropolis. The importance of this part of the plan seems unques

tionable. The Homilies contain a detailed exposition of the views of Christian doctrine and Christian practice entertained by the Church of England; but they are almost wholly unknown to the bulk of our population. If the circulation of the Homilies were the only object proposed by this new institution, it would appear of itself to be sufficient to interest the affections and command the co-operation of the best friends of the Establishment.

But it cannot be necessary to enlarge on

A society, lately formed at Bristol, distributes the Homilies, but it distributes tracts also.

the advantages likely to accrue to the Church of England, and, what is far more essential than the interests of any particular church, to Christianity itself, from the proposed institution. Those who, by their adherence to her service, profess to regard her as exhibiting the purest model of Christianity, cannot require arguments to shew that extensive benefits may be expected from a society, in which all her members may unite, which confines itself to the promotion of what must be admitted by all to be true Church-of-England objects, which excludes all occasion for variance of sentiment, which requires no test on admission beyond! a contribution to its funds, and which operates by means that are most obviously unexceptionable. Under these impressions, we cannot but look forward to the cordial concurrence. of all the friends of the Etablished Church, in a plan which promises to give that Church a firmer hold than ever on the understanding and affections of every class of her members.


A special General Meeting of this Society, which was most numerously attended, was held at the New London Tavern, Cheapside, on Friday April 24th, in consequence of a requisition, addressed to the Secretary, by many respectable members of the Society. The requisition was as follows :~~

[ocr errors]

We, the undersigned members of the 'Society for Missions to Africa and the East,' feeling it to be an imperative duty on the Society to exert itself, at this juncture, to procure such provisions in the New Charter to be granted to the East India Company, as shall, under wise and prudential regulation, promote Christianity in India, request you to communicate to the Committee of the Society our united desire, that a special general meeting of the Society may be called without delay, to take this important subject into consideration."

The Right Hon. Lord Gambier was called to the chair; when the following resolutions were passed unanimously :

"That it appearing to this meeting that a very numerous body of Europeans and native Christians, are subject to the British Crown in India, and also, according to general estimation, upwards of 60 millions of Ma homedays, and Heathens;

"Resolved, That it is a duty incumbent on the Society to exert itself in order to procure such provisions in the New Charter to

« PoprzedniaDalej »