網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

can only say in reply, that during the long time the congregation were without a minister previous to Mr. Wright's coming to Trowbridge, their place of worship was regularly kept open on Sundays, and portions of Scripture and sermons were read, and prayers offered, by those amongst these few, illiterate, ignorant people, who could do só, and who joyfully and voluntarily did this, notwithstanding their alleged general disinclination to serious conversation on religious subjects ; and the Committee are ignorant that any circumstance can be adduced in support of this charge.

Mr. Wright says, he "found a general want of union and true Christian spirit,” and that "the bad moral state of many persons in the congregation affected” him, “and were a source of pain during the whole of” his " residence amongst them."

This want of union the Committee admit, and regret equally with Mr. Wright; but in the bad moral state of many, more may be imagined than is correct, or than Mr. Wright intended; for in a congregation of so few persons, many of them, it is hoped, could not be found in this bad moral state, and if the charge is meant to apply to the congregation generally, the Committee are bound in justice to repel the insinuation. Some, as bas been already admitted, needed amendment; yet can it be possible that those many persons all continued in this bad moral state, unmoved and regardless of the warnings and preachings of the pastor, during a period of five years? It is painful to be compelled to state, that none of those persons were ever privately called to account for their conduct, or warned or admonished, in order to induce them to lead a more moral life, nor had they any other instruction than that derived through the medium of public discourses, (which is granted to be sufficient for ordinary characters who can read for themselves,) although Mr. Wright says he “used all possible means to rouse their consciences and improve their moral state :" and this want of private reasoning was the subject of surprise to the congregation ; nor was any thing ever before said by Mr. Wright, to the knowledge of the Committee, regarding this bad moral state of the people. Our Lord says, Matt. xviii. 15, “If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone."

Mr. Wright also complains, that there was no proper organization or committee. This is true (and few Unita

that "

rian congregations have committees); but it is not equally true, that there was no officer of any kind excepting a pew-opener,because there were two deacons then in office, and the same who continue to act at this day. Neither as respects the Sabbath School is it the fact,

a very few children were collected in the vestry on the Sunday before the afternoon service to be taught reading, without plan, order, or proper teachers." The school at that time certainly consisted only of about forty chil. dren, who met in the chapel and two vestry-rooms before the morning and afternoon services, and when there was no morning service, which at that time often happened, then during the whole morning. And as to there being po plan, order, or proper teachers, the children were instructed by twelve teachers, (the greater part of whom are the same at this day,) in four classes, properly divided, and were taught reading, spelling, and a scriptural catechism; and the plan was similar, and most of the teachers the same, at the time Mr. Wright came to Trowbridge as when he left, at wbich latter time be approves of the plan and applauds the activity of the teachers by whom the school was then conducted, and by which the children had so increased in number. It is also to be borne in mind, that to this activity and attention of the teachers alone (one of whom was the means of introducing writing) is to be attributed the flourishing state of the school, and that from the want of teachers and funds only was it prevented from being still more flourishing ; and solely through reports made annually by the teachers did Mr. Wright at all acquaint himself with the state, wants, or condition of the school. With the exception of addressing the school once on a Sunday morning when he did not preach at Bradford, and upon two occasions procuring donations of Bibles and Testaments from kind friends in London and Bristol, and preaching the apnual sermons in aid of its funds, did Mr. Wright at all render the school his assistance during the whole five years. Still the Committee believe that he wished to afford every encouragement to it in his power, and no doubt regretted that no member of his own family gave the school the assistance it required.

Nor is it true that “a few pamphlets were all the congregation had among them at the commencement of” Mr. Wright's " ministry, and which had increased to a pretty

good library when" he left; the stock of books and panphlets being the same at both periods, with a very little addition, excepting the increase made by the monthly publications. But even if there had been, as Mr. Wright states, a large library, it would not have been of much use to an illiterate congregation (as they are represented to be), some of whom were not capable of reading, and therefore could neither read nor understand them if read by others.

Mr. Wright, in his “Retrospect," gives as one reason why he failed of success in his ministry, the not being able to form classes of young people. The Committee are not aware of more than one attempt of the kind having been made, and then the non-attendance complained of was attributed principally to the lectures delivered being of too high a character for the young people to understand or be interested with. Mr. Wright must also be well aware that these lectures were not the best calculated to supply the places of those communicants vacant in the church by death and removals to other places, he having discountenanced prayer meetings, which the Committee think best adapted to bring forward and prepare young people for making a public profession of faith by baptism; and it is sufficient to mention, that what Mr. Wright complains he was unable to do in five years in bringing forward young communicants, bas been effected by his young successor in a less number of months.

Mr. Wright asserts, that “ some of the congregation preferred " his preaching “doctrinal and political discourses.' The Committee believe this number to be very small indeed, (if there were any,) as they cannot otherwise reconcile it with the fact of the frequent complaints made by the congregation in general, during the first year of Mr. Wright's ministry, because experimental and practi. cal discourses were not more frequently delivered and enforced ;

and he will probably recollect that, from the time he commenced his ministry, in October, 1822, to the middle of the summer in the following year, the major part by far of the discourses delivered were purely controversial, and that, after his return from London at Whitsuntide in that year, it was binted to him that the congregation disapproved of those discourses and wished for what were more practical. During the latter part of Mr. Wright's ministry, such discourses were generally delivered, and the

Committee are not in the least aware but that every person in the congregation approved of them.

Mr. Wright is also mistaken in saying, “ that in point of numbers” he “left the congregation better than he first found it;" on the contrary, it had considerably lessened, and that gradually throughout the whole period, but most in the last year of his ministry among them.

By Mr. Wright's relinquishing baptism, he became ineligible to fill the office of Pastor to the Trowbridge General Baptist Congregation, and they were not in the least acquainted with the alteration of his sentiments until after he had left them; and whether the congregation would have wished him to have left" or not, the Committee can scarcely for a moment suppose, that, “bad the prospect been ever so encouraging" Mr. Wright would have wished to remain, or have felt happy with a congregation whose sentiments on baptism were so opposed to his own, even if the trusts of the chapel would have admitted it, which it is believed they would not, as the trust funds could not have been received by a minister so dissenting.

It is extremely painful to the Committee to be thus compelled, as it were, to come forward to notice Mr. Wright's remarks on the Trowbridge Congregation ; but believing some of those remarks to have been uncalled for, (at any rate in a public manner,) and held up as they are to the derision of the public as a people lost to all sense of religion ; stigmatized as inmoral, as deaf to the warnings and admonitions of the gospel, and insulted and upbraided by their neighbours, they cannot remain silent under these beavy charges brought against them by their late minister, without desiring to be heard in defence, especially by their Unitarian brethren, whose good opinion they value; though they despair of obtaining a hearing from those of other denominations, who now, more than ever, boast over and taunt them, pleading in justification Mr. Wright's “ Letter" and " · Retrospect," which they quote on all occasions, and exult in the opportunity thus afforded them of further slaudering and reviling those whom they bad before despised and persecuted.

On behalf of the Committee,

T. LINTHORNE, Chairman.

MISSIONARY WARD AND MAHOMMEDAN UNITARIANISM.

Sir, I had lately a paper accidentally come into my hands purporting to be Number XXIV. of a series, published quarterly, "for the use of the weekly and monthly contribators to the Baptist Missionary Society;" the following extract from which, together with a few remarks, I beg leave to offer for the “ Reformer."

“Our Missionary friend, Mr. N. M. Ward, has lately sent home from Sumatra a curious document, which throws some light on the nature of practical Mahommedanism, as it exists in those countries. This document consists of a translation of various inscriptions on a roll of charms, woru as a protection by a native ruffian who lately attempted to murder the Fiscal or Dutch magistrate at Padang.

“In introducing the account of this outrage, Mr. Ward observes, 'The unity of God is the rallying point of the Mahommedans ; their strong bold, and the weapon with which they combat all their enemies ; yet we we find their system and that of Heathen idolatry in practice substantially the same. The Mahommedan Unitarian entertains the utmost abhorence of all images, and will not approach one without discovering his detestation by a visible sign ; yet he makes the representation of a wark on the body of liis prophet, inscribes it with the sacred name Mabommed, and invests it with the power of accomplishing all his desires, of pardoning all his sios, and of finally conducting him to heaven without account. It will be seen from the present communication that these are not harmless playthings, mere notions, too absurd to be credited by those who make the onity of God the basis of their creed. On the contrary, they have a perpetual influence on the conduct, and become the source of numerous actions equally incompatible with the welfare of society and the personal happiness of their deluded yotaries.'

Then follow the particulars relating to the conduct of the robber alluded to, who, on being taken, attempted to assassinate the Fiscal, expecting to escape all punishment by means of the roll of charms which he had tied round his

arms.

By the use and connexion of the term Unitarian in the above extract, it is evident to me, that the object in view is to gain an argument on the side of the Trinitarian creed

« 上一頁繼續 »