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ECLECTIC REVIEW, ,
FOR MARCH, 1818.
Art. I. 1. Two Letters, addressed to a Young Clergyman, illustrative of
his Clerical Duties in these Times of Innovation and Schism. With an Appendix, containing an Account of a recent Attempt to institute an Auxiliary to the British and Foreign Bible Society, in the Pa. rish of Midhurst. By Richard Lloyd, A.M. Vicar of St. Dunstan's in the West, London, and of Midhurst, &c. 8vo. pp. viii. 127.
1818. 2. Modern Policies, taken from Machiavel, Borgia, and other Choice
Authors. By an Eye-Witness. 8vo. London, 1657. Reprinted,
1817. 3. A Defence of the Church Missionary Society against the Objeciions of the Rev. Josiah Thomas, M. A. Archdeacon of Bath. By Daniel Wilson, M. A. Minister of St. John's Chapel, Bedford-row. Twelfth Edition. 8vo. 1818. IT is
T is the prerogative of the Supreme Governor, to work by
the instrumentality of contraries. Rarely has any thing been achieved for the good of mankind, which the opposition of the malignant or the mistaken, has not had a very principal share of service assigned it in bringing to pass. And we may trace the Divine Wisdom in this seeming law of bis providence. In the present disordered condition of our nature, there is, we may believe, no possible plan of alleviating the moral evils of society, which would fail of rousing into full activity a host of logical combatants, whose fears, or prejudices, or obliquity of judgement, would prompt them to exert their ingenuity in proving, in a variety of plausible ways, that the designed good was no good, or that it was a bad thing to make things better. Was it not, therefore, the established tendency of these contrary efforts to subserve the purposes they are intended to frustrate, nothing short of miraculous interposition would be requisite, in order to the aceomplishment of any beneficial design. Sometimes, the agency employed is almost purely evil; some “ lying "spirit” is sent out to deceive the Lord's prophets; or, as was the case with regard to Balaam, the suborned agent of evil is Vol. IX. N.S.
made perforce to bless, instead of cursing Israel ; or, as in the history of Joseph, the envy and treachery of bretbreu, become the means of their victim's future greatness. At other times, a more decent veil of plausible intention conceals the true character of the agency: Some Saul, with the learning, and pride, and blameless morals of a Pharisee, shall, through very zeal, turn persecutor ; some high priest, full of jealousy for the honour of Moses and of God, shall detect blasphemy in the language of infallible truth ; or grave philosophy, with infidel scorn, shall drive away the dreamer and his new doctrines, wbo brings to light the knowledge of the God it ignorantly worships. In all this, there is nothing to perplex the mind. We see agents acting strictly according to their nature, but acting in blind subordination to a higher law than that of their own wills; because “ the foolishness of God is wiser than
men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men," and thus the design of the Almighty appears manifest, in the vindication of his prerogative, “ that no fiesh may glory in his “ presence.” In the mean time, we are encouraged in the confidence, that the good we endeavour, shall by some means be accomplished, and we can look with unsolicitous calinness upon all the contention between the opposed energies of good and evil, knowing that the counsel of God it shall stand, in spite of human imbecility and perverseness.
But there is one circumstance sometimes attendant upon the progress of a good cause, which does a little perplex the mind. It is when we are doomed to view men whose characters are in many respects highly estimable, whose intentions appear to be upright, whose influence on Society bas hitherto been exerted on the side of religion and virtue, enlisting in the ranks of the enemy, as the dupes of party and the tools of mischief. It is when we see such men occupying the foremost position in the confederacy of evil, with all the rashness of a recruit, and the zeal of a convert, while yet we know, that if they could see the cause they oppose in its real light, they would be the first to espouse it; -when we see them, under this delusion, throwing away their character and their usefulness for a cockade and a sword, and are constrained to accept them as involuntary auxiliaries in the shape of enemies, when we should have rejoiced in their aid as acknowledged allies. Such a circumstance is, we say, perplexing, and it is to a high degree distressing: We feel for the man; we cannot but compassionate his mistake, and pity him under his task, and on account of the coinpany into wbich he has fallen. We feel for him as we should for the poor knight-errant, who, with blindness scarcely less credible ihan the delusion under which we have kpown many men to labour, mistook a windmill for a giant, and rap a-tilt against its
sails. We feel for those whom his name, his talents, and his virtues may seduce to conclude, without examination, that the side he has espoused is the right one, and who finding him blamed, may volunteer their aid in what they mistake to be acting on the defensive. It is possible we may feel a few moments' anxiety about the immediate success of the cause itself, without being disturbed by any infidel fears as to its issue; but this will soon subside: a bad man in a bad cause is a dang rous enemy; but when a good man takes that side, although he may be equally sincere in his hostility, he generally exhibits a deficiency in policy; he is almost sure to expose himself.
If any object might claim to be regarded as above the reach of objection on the part of men bearing the name of Christians, and as redeeming, indeed, from exception, any and every means by which it is efficiently promoted, that object is the religious conversion and instruction of mankinil. Two distinct plans of combined exertion having abis for their sole object, invite at the present moment the attention and co-operation of every believer in Revelation. The one plan, by limiting itself to the simple unrestricted distribution of the Scriptures, a means concerning the necessity and excellence of which no disagreement can arise among Protestants, is adapted to conciliate universal support. The other plan renders necessary the sepa. rate prosecution of the same object, by distinct combinations of Christians, in consequence of its einbracing means concerning which they differ. Both these plans have been assailed with equal virulence of opposition, and the warfare bas of late assumed the aspect of a more than natural activity and insidiousness. The shafts of logic being well nigh spent or blunted, the fire-arms of invective or calumny have now been assumed by the enemies of Bible and Missionary Societies; and while some of their first assailants have had the prudence to retire from the field, or to assume the language of moderation, others
stepping forward to renew, the contest in a style . of attack perfectly novel and terrific. We have classed the pam phlets relating to the British and Foreign Bible Society, and those relating to the Church Missionary Society, together, not because there is any actual connexion between the Societies themselves, for indeed the plans of the two Institutions have scarcely any thing in coinmon, except their final purpose, but because, as our readers are well aware, they have been associated as being alike the offspring of schism and fanaticism, as being supported by the same sect, and as bearing the same portentous aspect upon the interests of the Established Episcopacy.
I must say,' says the Rey. Richard Lloyd, that “the Church * Missionary Society for Africa and the East," whose proceedings in
the City of Bath gave birth to these and other questions in the Protest of the Reverend Archdeacon, is assimilated in many respects to the proceedings of the Bible Society ; and it is a curious phænomenon, arising out of the laxity of the times, to see a Church Missionary Society publicly disclaiming, in direct terms, all ecclesiastical character, and justifying its conduct in a high tose of independence, upon the ground of civil law, and in defiance of Episcopal authority. This question of right must be decided by the canon law, which sanctions, I apprehend, the interference of the Archdeacon, who is called in its figurative language, " the Bishop's eye.”_Upon even the con trary assumption,-ihe meeting, in my opinion, was irregular; it was not conducted by members of the Established Church with a due respect to constituted authorities; “it was unauthorized by all that can give a regular sanction to an assembly for Church purposes.”. And I strongly recommend that this Society resume its former title, as its new appellation of a Church Missionary Society does not well accord with its uncanonical measures. The false and ri. diculous analogies by which the defence attempts to justify its ehange of title, and its low and dangerous mode of increasing its funds, need no comment. I use the word dangerous—for these penny Societies, and even more petty collections, accompanied by inducements and rewards, throughout the nation, lead to such an accumulation of wealth, to such a mass of physical strength and influence, as may be easily turned, when schism abounds in the Church, and sedition in the State, to bad and mischievous purposes. The lax, disorderly piety of these perilous days throws up a great abundance and variety of material highly favourable to the dark and revolutionary purposes of faction and rebellion.'
This, then, is the count upon wbich, as it now appears, these Societies are to stand their trial, and the offence charged upon them in the indictment, is of a capital nature. An extract from the Editor's Appendix to this republication of Archbishop Sancroft's Modern Policies, will place this is a still clearer light.
• Let it be noted, then, that the Presbyterians were for the most part nominal Conformists--the godly party (as they termed themselves) within the Church, whilst the Independents were sectaries of various kinds, blended together under that comprehensive designation. In the outset of the glorious reformation projected by these religious empirics, they were
sworn friends and confederates. The indefinite object of " setting up Christ on “ his throne," to which, (like the Bible and the Bible' only) each was left at liberty, to affix his own comment, being the liberal basis of the association ; and were it not for the catastrophe in which their coquetry concluded, it would be ludicrous to observe the ceremonies played off on both sides, to conceal irreconcileable antipathies, and to prevent a premature rupture, which both saw would be fátal to the design which each hoped to accom:
plish by the other's co-operation. The Church fell a victim to this coalition.'
These extracts may suffice, without troubling our readers with references to the numerous inflammatory publications which have been of late issued, containing similar representations, to sbew that it forms part of a deliberate plan on the part of the enemies of the British and Foreign Bible Society, to charge upon its supporters the most insidious and treasonable designs, involving nothing short of the subversion of the Constitution, and to hold up the evangelical clergy as either the dupes of a political faction, or as maiotaining a secret understanding with the Dissenters for this express object. This is not altogether a new charge; but when it was first brought forward with all the pomp of Demonstration,' there was sometbing so wild even to insanity, in the passionate tone, and vehement invective, and Jague assertions of the accuser, that it seemed more a subject for ridicule than for indignation. Nor has the periodical reiteration of similar outrages, proceeding from an anonymous plurality, excited any surprise, inasmuch as it has seemed to be charitably taken for granted, that there was but one individual possessed with so incurable a spirit of malignity. The publications before us present the matier in a somewhat different point of view, and give it, as we think, an importance which one is reluctant to attribute to efforts in themselves as impotent as they are base, and which can become formidable only from their ex. tent or their impunity. Even the daily press is beginning to be put in requisition for the dark purposes of this growing faction, Idle as would be any apprehensions that it will succeed in its attempts either materially to injure the Societies theinselves, or to crush The Sect, these incessant inflammatory appeals to the nation, cannot be regarded as altogether innoxious in their immediate influence, or as otherwise than dangerous in their con. sequences. It is true, that, as might have been anticipated, the protest of Archdeacon Thomas has had an effect not less bene. ficial on the foods of the Church Missionary Society than on his own income; and in like manner the publications directed against the Bible Society, have unquestionably been powerfully instrumental in advancing the triumphs of that Institution. They have served to bring the subject more fully before the eye of the public, to illustrate its importance, to keep alive an interest in its progress, and to reflect the more honour on the unexceptionable character of the Institution, and the conduct of its advozates. But, nevertheless, we must not be seduced to overlook the attendant circumstance of the formation and growing magnitude of a firmly compacted phalanx of party-opposition, too in veterate to be conciliated, and too considerable to be despised,
With regard to the present assailants, little needs be said.