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Female immolation in India having lately excite'd some interest, and hoping that the public voice will instantaneously call the attention of the Legislature to the subject, in the ap• v^ching session of Parliament, you will perhaps please to insert the following in your useful'publication.
As female immolation is a religious rite of the Hindoos, it has been questioned, whether a legislative suppression of the practice would not infringe the principle of religious toleration—a question certainly of the first importance. But the principle of toleration which forbids the interference of the civil magistrate in religious matters, relates purely to the conscience, where the lives of the subjects are not endangered: the lives of men are the field of magisterial legislation—the conscience is the province of religious liberty, and it is for each to keep within its respective sphere; should the magistrate attempt to invade the province of conscience, he must expect a resistance; and should •conscience make an attack upon life, it is for the magistrate to repel. When conscience, whether in the name of religion or otherwise, dictates the destruction of life, of which the magistrate is guardian, then it passes over the boundary of religious liberty, and enters the department of civil control; in such sanguinary acts the magistrate does not interfere as legislator of religion, but as civil protector of the lives of subjects, VOL. X.
an office essential to the existence of society. The conscience of the duellist suggests that*his own life and that of his antagonist, should be devoted to destruction at the shrine of his titular deity, honour; but does this sentiment of the duellist involve a liberty of conscience whfrch forbids the interference of the magistrate?—by no means; the lives of subjects are not exclusively their own, they belong also to the community of which they make a part, the being of which in a congregated capacity is dependant on individual existence. The vain suicide claims a right to sacrifice himself; here also the law interposes, rejects theclaini; condemns the act, and, refuses the rites of Christian burial. But should the duellists and suicides now begin to say, that though their selfdestruction would certainly be still the same in itself and consequences, yet that tt did not now proceed from the same principle as formerly, but that they now believed it to be the will of a deity they acknowledged, that under their circumstances they should terminate their existence: would this alleged change of principle so make this selfdestruction a religious matter of conscience that it should be tolerated, and the civil power no longer take cognizance of it? Should the votaries of such a deity greatly multiply, and it be further alleged that this deity also enjoined female immolation in case of widowhood, would the principle of religious toleration forbid the interference of the civil power? If so, then our own country F
would from the same cause be afflicted with precisely the same baneful effects which India now suffers. How awfully desolating would be the ravages of such an horrid practice amongst us 1 what wide breaches would a few years make in the ranks of our community! how would it dissever those social ties, and destroy those kindred sensibilities, so essential to the happiness arid prosperity * of a people; and what multitudes of abandoned helpless infants would it cast as a burdensome charge on the precarious care of the nation. But this we do not fear; that principle in our laws which takes cognizance of the duellists and the suicides, would we think interfere in this case, and prevent the direful consequence amongst us: then why not extend the same salutary principle of legislation to our fellow subjects in India? As they are brought under the same Government as ourselves, why should they not with us participate in all the benefits of its wisdom? As they are amenable to tribunals established by British authority, and this authority forbids selfdestruction amongst us, why not by a similar application of this authority amongst them, stop the ravages of the funeral pile, rescue the widows of Hindostan from the consuming flames, and secure to the children of India the fostering care of parental regard? The policy of the interference in a political point of view (though it is conceived this would not forbid it) is not now a subject of discussion; nor should the Christian or the Philanthropist hesitate on so comparatively inferior a consideration. Our Christian zeal calls upon us in consistency to forbid that act, which in every case is not merely the consuming of a living body, but also the destruction of an immortal soul, which hurries the wretched widow from the region of hope, from the voice of our Missionary messengers of mercy, and awfully consigns her to an everlasting . destiny. Every filial feeling admonishes us to stop the son from fixing the funeral pile, and becoming the executioner of his mother; every parental affection commands us to oppose this revolt of maternal fondness, this unnatural consignment of infancy to all the miseries of orphanage; all the jealousies of our national character, and all the sympathies of our nature, rise up in indignation at the merciless ac
tivities of this inhuman abomination. Let our countrywomen employ every stimulus they can command on behalf of their degraded sex in India; arid let every community of our countrymen rise spontaneously in the e'nsuing session of Parliament, and practically evince their commiseration by energetically supplicating our Senate to stay this degradation of our Empire, this rebellion of nature, this agony of humanity; that those that cry and the fatherless may be delivered, that the blessing of those ready to perish may come upon us, and the widow's heart sing for joy.
In submitting to you the following strictures, I fear you will deem me either intrusive or litigious, or as wishing to set your hand against every man's, that every man's hand may be set against yours; but such is not the case. 1 merely turn to your Miscellany M knowing no other which embraces such a combination of talent, fidelity, and impartiality. .
It is common, Sir, in the country to anticipate that the opening of every month will refresh us " with good new from a far country." A portion of this refreshment has been realized, from the contents of the Heralds, and Chronicles and Magazines for December; put m examining the Missionary Chronicle in the Evangelical Magazine for »ial month, I confess, that Missionary intelligence was never read with Such utter astonishment and grief.
My grief was not that the Missionaries have had to tread in apostolic step-. to be "in labours more abundant, Hi prisons more frequent, in deaths . thrice beaten with rods, once stone", thrice-shipwrecked, injourney.ngsolte..
in perils of waters, of robbers, by countrymen, by the heathen, in the city,» the wilderness, in the sea, and ann>ng false brethren, in weariness and p* fulness, in watchings often, in nu'• „ and thirst, and cold, and nakednessBut to read from the Bay of B»** that "The large and handsome houses the Missionaries, and the very spa"
the Missionaries, and tne vw; «r ^ Chapel and judgment-hall, occupy centre of the settlement, while resW d and wellplastered houses for the cni" ^ people extend perhaps for a m"
STRICTURES ON SOME RECENT MISSIONARY INTELLIGENCE. 35
way." So then it may be more than presumed, that we have huts for the poor natives—respectable and well plastered houses for the chiefs, and large and handsome houses for the Missionaries. Oh! "tellit not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcision triumph!"
My grief was not that the Missionaries have had to adopt the bitter exclamation, " Who hath believed our report, and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?" or that they have been forbidden by the Holy Ghost to preach the Gospel in any place; but to read, that" It was with much satisfaction we witnessed the baptism of one hundred and fifty persons in one day, making up the number of baptized about one thousand one hundred, leaving a remainder of persons in the island unbaptized about two hundred. With the church, which consists of about one hundred and fifty members, we had twice the pleasure of communing at the Lord's Table. Thus happily is this Island evangelized." Here are then one thousand and one hundred persons baptized, and a church consisting of only one hundred and fifty members. Were the persons baptized adult believers? or were they the prolific iufant offspring of the adult believers? If adult believers, why not of the church? and if adult unbelievers, why baptized at all?'
My grief was not that no practical results were visible, that the Missionaries did not see "the mountains and the hills break forth before them into singing, and all the trees of the field clapping their hands." But to read that "our Missionary brethren have appropriate places for the natives, in which to manufacture their tobacco—to boil their sugar—to make salt—to manufacture smith's work—and for making chairs, bedsteads, and sofas; all which they may be said to do well: and of the extent to which they have earned the manufacture of sofas with neatly turned legs, you may judge by the following fact: at a feast of the baptized persons we counted (what was never counted at any nobleman's feast in the British dominions) we counted two hundred and fifty sofas, large and well made after the English model." If this be true, then we may expect on Missionary platforms—an Missionary rooms, and
among Missionary friends, exhibitions of chairs, bedsteads, and sofas, instead of translations.
Again, my astonishment was not, that the Missionaries never migrated from their feasts, their sofas, their large and handsome houses to teach the poor slaves, but that the first thing that is taught is the decalogue.—" Lord's Day, July 7th. I explained to them the ten commandments, and pointed them to Jesus, the Saviour of sinners. Lord's Day, July 15th. I explained the ten commandments, / of course also directed them to the Lamb' of God, who taketh away the sin of the world, and who is the end of the law for righteousness unto all that believe, whether bond or free. To teach them the nature and use of the Sabbath, is one of the first things to attend to. 1 informed them that the fourth commandment not only teaches us to remember trie Sabbath, to keep it holy, but also that we are to attend to our work in the six days of the week.'' Is this preaching the Oospel to every creature? Is this being wise as serpents, and harmless as doves? Is not this the way, Sir, for Missionaries'to be implicated in insurrections? and was it thus the Apostles at their first and second interview taught the slaves of Greece and Rome? than which none could be in a more degraded condition—who were held " pro nuliis, pro mortuis, pro quadrupedibus." Vide their tuition to the converted slaves, 1 Cor. vii. 20—24.
Finally, my astonishment was not that the Missionaries do not acknowledge the need of a superior agency, but to see this statement admitted into the Chronicle: "Iregretmuch thatAfricaner is no more. His influenceamong the Namacquas was very considerable, andwith a little assistancefrom Government, would have rendered the cause of God in that country essentitil service.'' Have the Missionary brethren forgotten that the government is upon the shoulders of the Prince of peace? That his kingdom is not of this world? and that his temple shall be erected, not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts? Now, when these things are published under the sanction of the Directors of a Society which can realize j£30,000. per annum for Missionary objects, they assume a grave form indeed, and compel me to ask, are the Directors and Missionaries carnal men? do they need carnal weapons? and are they pursuing carnal objects? Is it for this the Society claims to itself above all others the definite article, The Mission, The London Mission, and The Evangelical Society? Truly the Church, the Wesleyan) the Moravian, and the Baptist Missions, will lift their hands to heaven and say, let them be in each of these particulars—The Society. Is it, Sir, for this we dissent from national establishments? For this that our British ladies arc planning in their closets, their parlours, and their kitchens? For this they collect the pence of the poor? and for this we send out Missionaries? Surely it is for this, that the British press already teems with its invective. These things demand an explanation, and if no satisfactory explanation can be given, as an individual, and as the Pastor of a church in a populous town, I must decline my little exeitions for the Society, and turn them to objects more substantial.
Should you deem these strictures worthy of the public eye, 1 beg you will allow them a place in your Magazine, and permit me to subscribe myself,
ON MIXED COMMUNION.
Some time ago the subject of mixed communion excited the general attention of the christian world, by means of its eloquent advocate Mr. II—. Since then we have heard little about it, except now and then a faint and indistinct sound, implying a disposition to let the thing sleep; and I have no wish to awake it. But, Sir, with your permission, I beg leave to offer a few remarks on the sentiment through the medium of your Magazine. It has often engaged my thoughts, and occupied my attention to enter into its merits, if merit "it possesses; but I am still as much as ever at a loss to understand it. If it had been a regulation of Jesus Christ, one might have tried to find it in the New Testament; but it is in vain to expect to meet with any thin» resembling it there. We may, therefore, ask, what claim has it to the attention of Christians more than any other human invention? If its claims cannot be supported by Scripture, it bad much better be entirely left alone. The
friends of mixed communion will have it, that it would tend to closer union among Christians, and consequently render their operations more effective, and the churches more prosperous. Butwhat reason have we to suppose,. that any church setting up an order of admission to membership different to that used by the apostoljp churches, can be either more united or more flourishing on that account? The very nature of the case proves the contrary to be a fact. For if the question be put, how can two walk together except they are agreed? we may with more propriety ask, how can twenty or perhaps two hundred walk together if not agreed? If there be not union of views respecting an ordinance positively commanded in. the New Testament, there can neither be union of design or union of operation in such a body of people. They may, indeed, profess to have but one object ultimately as the end for which they unite; but as they set out upon professedly opposite principles, it is utterly impossible they can act in concert without a compromise of those principles. How can a man believe his obligation to be baptized, in obedience to the command of Jesus Christ, in order to be united with his church, when, after being united, he can sit down and say, any one else is at liberty to be united with it, who he believes has never been baptized? In such a case, a man must either consider his own baptism as a mere matter of opinion, and not an obligation, or he must deny the practice of the apostles which required baptism of all who believed. Therefore mixed, communion is inconsistent with itself, and destroys its own object.
The strict baptists have been charged with bigotry, straitlacedn.ess, and even with persecution by their opponents. But what will not human nature in its present state do to gain a point? And what will not some good and eminent men write in order to establish a favourite opinion? To call a church of Christ bigots and persecutors, because they keep the ordinances as they were delivered by the apostles, their opponents themselves being judges, is as strong a proof of their want ofgoodWgument to support mixed communion as one can desire. For if such a charge was just, it would equally apply to the apostles of Christ; the strictcommunionjsts merely copying their example in this point, But if the laws of Christ were binding ou the churches in the primitive times, tlicy must be so now; if they were not binding then, they cannot be now; and therefore we are at liberty to reject or retain what we think proper.
ON MIXED COMMUNION.
So far indeed are the strict Baptists from persecuting others, that they are the only sect upon earth who never did persecute, and who understand and practise civil and religious liberty as well, if not better, than any other body of Christians. Suppose a Paedobaptist brother applies for admission into a Baptist church, and they refuse him on the ground of his not being baptized; is such a decision an act of persecution? No unprejudiced mind would deem it so. But yet such conduct has been represented as unchristian by the advocates of mixed communion, although it is- a well known fact, that among all the Independent churches no one is admitted a member but by a vote of the majority; and if twenty-nine vote for a candidate and thirty against him, he would not be received; nor would any just blame attach to the church on that account. But if a single individual of that persuasion applies to a Baptist (although he knows beforehand their peculiar sentiments) and is rejected, it becomes a serious charge against them, and they must think themselves well treated if they escape with being termed narrow-minded, &c. &c. So then civil and religious liberty maybe well enough among others, but the Baptists ought not to presume to exercise a similar privilege. I know that mixed communionists object to this mode of reasoning on the subject, and tell us, that the person rejected is confessedly a pious and godly Christian, one for "whom Christ died," and therefore he cannot be refused without blame attaching to the church. But this objection is weak as groundless, when we know, that the Tide of admission into the church is not optional with any church, but plainly laid down in the oracles of God; and therefore absolutely binding on all bodies of Christians. Consequently a church in receiving members merely perform a part of Christ's commandment, which act of theirs is regulated by the express word of God: their abstract authority having no more to do with it, than it has to do with making the Bible itself. it is said by mixed cummunionists,
that there is no necessary or instituted connection between baptism and the Lord's Supper. What they mean by this I know not, except we are to understand by it, that baptism may be attended to or omitted, just as suits an individual who may happen to apply for church fellowship. Be that as it may, it is clear that the church which sets aside baptism to accommodate an individual, has an equal right to dispense with the Lord's Supper to suit the same person should he require it; since it appears, that not the command of Jesus Christ,' but the opinion of that toeak brother is the rule by which such a church acts. < But I think the Scriptures will bear us out in asserting, that there is a direct connection between the two positive institutions. For in the 2nd of Acts we are told, that the persons who were baptized were the same day added to the church. Here then we have a plain ■ matter of fact recorded quite in point; and from this fact there can be no lawful appeal. It is obvious that one reason for their attending to baptism ■ was, with a direct view to the union with the church and admittance to the Lord's Supper. For it is said, they continued in fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Our business then as followers of Christ should be, not to enquire how far we may deviate from the first church with seeming impunity, but how we may purge the corruptions of the present day from our churches, by a more steady and undeviating attachment to the pattern set us by the first church of Jerusalem. As we are called to obey the laws of Christ, and not to enact them, so that obedienco can never be genuine which is not regulated by the testimony of Scripture alone.
Another argument used by our opponents is, that as we are all imperfect and liable to err, we should overlook the mistakes of our brethren; and if in the whole, they are truly pious, receive them, although they have not been baptized, except in their own view of the subject. That both Baptists and Pasdobaptists are imperfect, and therefore should bear and forbear with each other, • must be fully granted. But will that imperfection be less apparent by a departure from the rule of right laid down in the Scriptures of truth? Because a man is imperfect, must he do that which the word of God and his own