« 上一頁繼續 »
To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
I HAVE read with much satisfaction the concise but able and convincing refutation inserted in your Number for last November (p.728,) of the unguarded and unjust charges urged by the Quarterly Reviewers against the Church Missionary Society. It would be well if writers of their talent and influence, and who profess to be ranged on the side of Christianity, orthodoxy, and loyalty, against the seditious, the blasphemous, and the anti-Christian part of the press, would look a little more cautiously to the probable effect of some of their statements than they seem to have done in the present instance. It can give no pleasure to the friends or conductors of that work to find the paper in question hailed as follows by the Monthly Magazine; a publication which needs no stigma of mine to point out the character of its principles on all subjects of politics or religion. Speaking of the article under consideration, (Quar. Rev. No. L., Oct. 1821,) the conductors of the Monthly Magazine remark:
"Martyn's Memoirs exhibit a deplorable picture of devotional hypochondria. Mr. Martyn, we doubt not, was a harmless, wellmeaning creature, who had fallen into such mistaken notions of the
Almighty's goodness and his own unworthiness, as to consider it a proof of infinite mercy that he was
out of hell. There are many Mr. Martyns in England; but we thank God we are not of the number. This article contains also some spirited and just observations on the abortiveness of missionary labours. It appears that the Church Missionary Society' expended upwards of 30,000l. last year, and that of twenty converts made at one of their eight stations in four years, they had all relapsed except one!"
Leaving the Quarterly Reviewer to parry off as well as he can the disgraceful panegyrics of such an ally in the anti-missionary crusade, I shall request permission to touch upon another point of some importance brought forward in his critique. I shall not at present dilate upon the general opinions and conclusions of the reviewer, relative to the missionary character and labours of the sainted Martyn, whose humble, holy, zealous, and disinterested exertions for the salvation of the heathen will be remembered and appreciated long after the strictures and the praises of his contemporaries are forgotten; but I would be permitted to offer a few cursory remarks on certain passages in the article in question, respecting the discretion be observ
ed in administering the rite of baptism to the idolatrous people of the East. In pp. 443 and 444, the reviewer has thought proper to as sert, (and that notwithstanding the praises he has liberally and honourably bestowed upon him, in other parts of the review,) that "his management was too rigorous at the outset; that he made no allowance for the gradual reception of the truths which he taught; he fancied that nothing was gained to the household of faith, unless the proselyte were at once as good a Christian as himself. An extract or two from his Journal will explain this, and the loss of many opportunities of adding to the number of those who would be saved, through a too punctilious attention to single and insulated points of doctrine. Query, Is the term "insulated" strictly applicable to any part of that volume which forms one consolidated mass of divine and imperishable truth ?] Application for baptism having been made to him by one of the native women, and refused, he thus observes upon it:" (the subjoined passage is taken from page 275 of the first edition of the Memoir.)
"Your account of a native woman, whom you baptized, came in season for me. I have been subjected to some similar perplexities, but I think no one would refuse baptism in the case you mention. The woman, who is making the same petition here, promises to marry, and comes frequently for instruction, but her heart is not touched with any tender sense of sin, and of her need of mercy. Yet, if there be no scandal in her life, and she professes her belief in those points in which they are interrogated in the Baptismal Service, may I lawfully refuse?—I cannot tell what to do. I seemed almost resolved not to administer the ordinance till convinced in my own mind of THE TRUE REPENTANCE of the person."
On this extract from Mr. Mar. CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 242.
tyn's correspondence with his excellent friend Mr. Corrie, the re viewer remarks, and that after having admitted that the supposed candidates for baptism, "though convinced of the truth, were ignorant of the spirit, of Christianity," that" it appears to have escaped Mr. Martyn, that the Hindoo had better offer an imperfect service to the Most High, than bow his knee in the temple of Juggernaut. Is nothing gained, if, by admitting those people to the rites of baptism, we save, as we undoubtedly shall, their women from the funeral pile, their children from the Ganges, and their young damsels from the impurities of the most revolting of religious rites? Is it nothing to instruct and purify by degrees? but must we insist on au absolute, a thorough regeneration at once, or refuse to admit them into our communion?"
Having fairly transcribed the sentiments of the Quarterly Reviewer, on this important point, I would ask, Are they just ? are they warranted by fact? are they such as the editor of an accredited and widely circulated journal ought to have presented to the public?
I must begin by noticing the concession made by the reviewer himself respecting the ignorance of those who were desirous of being admitted to the sacrament of baptism: " Though convinced of the truth, they were ignorant of the spirit, of Christianity." And were these persons in a fit state of preparation to come to the holy fount? Could they seriously undertake those promises and vows, whose especial object is to enforce "the spirit of Christianity?" Is a person considered qualified to take a solemn oath in any temporal concern, without having first informed himself of the spirit of his obligation? And can any thing be more preposterous than an engagement on the part of a Hindoo, in the presence of the Searcher of all hearts, "to renounce the world,
the flesh, and the devil; to believe all the articles of the Christian faith; obediently to keep God's holy will and commandments, and to walk in the same all the days of his life;" while he knows nothing of the spirit or meaning of the stipulations into which he professes to enter? Would it be wise, or merciful, or pious, on the part of a minister of Christ, thus to entrap him into a vow which he has no intention of keeping, and which he does not even understand?
But I will next consult an authority, to which the Quarterly Reviewer is accustomed to defer; namely, that of the episcopal author of the Elements of Christian Theology." In the 2d vol. third edition (on Article XXVII.), his lordship thus expresses himself on the subject of Christian baptism: "Tertullian, who lived about sixty years afterwards, says, They that come to baptism must use the devotions of frequent prayer, fastings, kneelings, and watchings, and the confession of all their past sins, that they may at least do as much as was done in John's baptism.' From these passages it appears, that the persons to be baptized were required to undergo certain preparations, and to make certain promises; and that the whole of this important business might be conducted with the greater regularity and solemnity, it was customary to perform baptism, except in cases of necessity, only twice in the year-namely, at Easter and Whitsuntide. The candidates gave in their names several weeks before the day appointed they were in the mean time instructed and examined by the ministers of the church; and it was indispensibly necessary that they should be able to give some account of the grounds of their faith; and, beside this previous instruction, they were called upon at the time of their baptism, by answering certain questions, to declare their belief in the fundamental doc
trines of the Gospel, and to promise obedience to its precepts in a manner similar to our form of baptizing adult persons."-And again, page 459; " In ancient times," remarks his lordship, "a mixture of milk and honey was given immediately after baptism, and a white garment was put upon the persons baptized, as emblematical of the purity which they had now acquired.”
Though the practice of the primitive church, to which the bishop immediately refers in the foregoing extract, might be sufficient to decide the point at issue between the Quarterly Reviewer and the defender of Henry Martyn, I would nevertheless strengthen my argument by shortly consulting the declared and authoritative sentiment of the Church of England on the subject. Referring to her office of Adult Baptism (and be it remembered, that Mr. Martyn, in the passage quoted by the reviewer, was immediately speaking of adults), I find the following rubric: "When any such persons as are of riper years are to be baptized, timely notice shall be given to the bishop, or whom he shall appoint for that purpose, a week before at the least, by the parents, or some other discreet persons; that so due care may be taken for their examination, whether they be sufficiently instructed in the principles of the Christian religion; and that they may be exhorted to prepare themselves, with prayers and fasting, for the receiving of this holy sacrament." Next follows a peculiarly striking exhortation to the persons about to be baptized, requiring them " faithfully" to undertake those promises and vows which I have already noticed. In like manner, our excellent catechism represents" repentance whereby they forsake sin, and faith whereby they stedfastly believe the promises of God, made to them in that sacrament," as "what is required of persons to be baptized."
It may perhaps be replied, that
the whole detail of preparation for baptism demanded by the Church of England, could not reasonably be expected of a Hindoo who secks admission to that sacred rite. Undoubtedly some circumstantial difference must be allowed in the preparatory steps which he may be required to take. At the same time, it cannot but appear to a mind so enlightened as that of the Quarterly Reviewer, that it is among the most essential principles of the Church of England, to exact of all candidates for baptism (heathens not excepted) a due acquaintance with "the spir t of Christianity," as well as a mere unmeaning conviction" of its truth." Indeed, not to institute these strict conditions of administering the baptismal rite is, in fact, to tell a heathen, at the very time when he wishes to partake of it, "You need not be at any pains to repent of all your abominations; you have no occasion to consider the spirit of those promises and vows which you are about to make to that God whom we Christians acknowledge and adore: you have only to assure us that you believe the New Testament to be true; and we will then immediately baptize you, and receive you into the Christian church." And should this be represented as an exaggerated statement, I would reply, that the reviewer does not even hint at the necessity of exhorting the Hindoo at the time of his admission to the rite of Christian baptism, to cultivate that repentance, that faith, and that desire to obey God's commandments which are required by the Church of England, of "all persons to be baptised." The reviewer, it is true, intimates that the person so baptized should be "instructed and purified by degrees;" but he either does not intend that the instruction which he here speaks of should take place at the time of administering the rite of baptism, or else he has, by a singular oversight, done a pal
pable injustice to his own senti. ments. Happily, however, for the cause of true religion, the character of Martyn, in the case now under consideration, may be defended on yet stronger grounds. For not only has the reviewer failed to prove, by a reference to facts, that this devoted missionary was "too rigorous in the outset," and that " he made no allowance for the gradual reception of the truths" which he taught; and that he required the proselyte to be " at once as good a Christian as himself;" but he will even find such evidence in the Memoir, as must establish the opposite conclusion. For his biographer expressly states respecting an application made to him for baptism by one of the native women; "This request, as the candidate manifested no signs of penitence or faith, and could by no means be made to comprehend what farther was necessary to be a Christian than to say the Lord's Prayer, he found himself compelled to refuse." Let the reader impartially determine, whether Mr. Martyn was too rigorous" in rejecting such a candidate for baptism, even one who was absolutely destitute of the great elementary requisites; namely, penitence and faith; and whether, in insisting upon these, he really expected his proselytes to be at once as good Christians as himself."
But I must yet detain your readers, while I endeavour to correct what to me appears a very serious error in the sentiments of the reviewer, as they relate to the ministry of Martyn. He considers it a point gained to the cause of Christianity, that an Hindoo, by being admitted to the rite of Christian baptism, abandons those abominations which had before formed the essence of his religion. But may it not be asked in reply," Is he less polluted than before in the sight of a Holy God, when he vows that repentance with his lips which he does not cherish in his
has in no way relaxed in her assertion of the powers of the priesthood; and this not merely as respects such points as absolution from sin, the transubstantiation of the sacred elements, &c. but in the faculty of working miracles, for which her present bishops and priests contend even down to the present period, and in our own enlightened nation.
heart? Or, had the inspired writer tenet, in opposition to the "artino meaning when he declared, culus stantis vel cadentis ecclesiæ" "Better is it that thou shouldest not-salvation by grace only-so she vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay?" (Eccl. v. 5.) Or did the Apostle think it better that men should be nominal partakers of the rite of baptism, than continue in a state of heathenism, when he said, in answer to the question, "What doth hinder me to be baptised?" "If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest ?" (Acts viii. 36, 37.) So that the Hindoo candidate for baptism, who is yet impenitent and unbelieving, still retains those very pollutions in principle (the worship of Juggernaut, &c.) which, on his profession of Christianity, he forsakes in practice." His heart goes after his idols." The very vows, therefore, which he undertakes in Christian baptism, must prove an awful aggravation of his former sins; and on what rational ground a missionary can be expected to baptise him, I am utterly unable to conceive;-not to mention the reproof which journalists of the present day, and, unless I much mistake, the Quarterly Reviewers among the number, have administered to our missionaries in the East for a too precipitate admission of the Hindoo to the sacred ordinance in question.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer, I BEG to express my acknowledgments to your correspondent MAN CESTRIENSIS for the extracts given in your Number for December, from the Funeral Sermon of a Roman Catholic Divine at Manchester, and for his judicious remarks on the unaltered doctrine of the Church of Rome (so successfully opposed by Luther and his contemporaries), respecting justification by works. It may perhaps not be known to all your readers, that as the Romish Church continues to maintain and defend this
I have now lying before me a tract lately written and published by the Rev. E. Peach of Birmingham, in which he gives a circumstantial account of his casting out a devil at Kings-Norton in Worcestershire. In the title-page, this miracle is called " a successful Exorcism," and the Reverend author expressly terms himself "the Exorcist." He begins by observing, that possessions existed in the apostolic age, (about which indeed there can be no doubt); and he then asserts, that the words of our Lord, " In my name they shall cast out devils," "apply to those who shall believe in him in all succeeding ages;" which however may be just as truly asserted of raising the dead, and healing the sick, as of exorcism, or of any other miracle; and accordingly the Romish Church holds, that all those miracles have been performed by her the end of time. He then declares, clergy, and will continue to be so to that "the power of exorcising has, from the earliest ages, been conferred on those who entered into the mini
stry;" speaks with some contempt of
the new acquired lights which the glorious Reformation spread over the minds of men," and plainly charges open infidelity on such as will not believe these things; observing, "that if our Saviour was to appear again on the earth, his wonderful works would make no greater impression on the minds of these enlightened men, than they did on the incredulous High