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at the Asylum every morning at six o'clock; and every week-day evening at seven o'clock orthodox dissenting ministers come and preach to the people. On the Sabbath-day the men attend the Floating Church on the Thames, and on them devolves almost the whole duty of taking people on board and returning them, whether it be from the vessels in the river or from the shore, in the boats belonging to the Asylum and the church-ship. On Sunday the men have an extra meal, coming between the forenoon and afternoon services, in the ship. In the evening they go to Pell-street Chapel, (dissenting, I sappose,) in the neighbourhood of the London Docks, where a gallery is set apart on purpose for them.”
Much need hardly be said on the foregoing extract. It is one of the many instances of spurious liberality which we are compelled to witness daily in the proceedings of the (so called) religions world. It is what we must bewail in private, but, as becomes ministers and members of Christ's church, boldly protest against in public. It is to be hoped that the patrons of this institution, who doubtless are most of them professing churchmen, will be led to re-consider this part of their plan. Had no mention been made of the church service, we should have supposed of course that the Institution was under the management of some zealous and well-meaning dissenters, conscientiously opposed to the ministrations of the church. But the use of her service at one part of the day leads us to conclude that professing churchmen have considerable influence in its management. It is much to be feared, too, that they hold but lax notions of the nature and claim of that church to which they profess adherence, or they would not so openly sanction the ministration of the (so called) orthodox dissenting preacher. They cannot be aware of the undivided allegiance which the church demands of all her members. This is deeply to be regretted, as the object which the society proposes is one of the greatest importance; and the great sacrifice both of time and income, which the resident directors of the institution (as I hear) have made, deserves the highest praise, and should provoke zealous emulation. Let us hope that the bold and hardy race for whose benefit the Asylum is intended will speedily be placed under the exclusive charge of a duly ordained minister. This cannot be too much for churchmen who wish well to the Institution to expect. For this purpose many who now pause and hesitate would willingly contribute. But till an arrangement of this kind is adopted, and all room for sectarian influence is done away with, it cannot but be expected that they decline all connection with a society of so dubious and equivocal a character. As yet it has too much of the low sectarian feeling of the present day to suit the ideas and spirit of sound and zealous churchmen.
I am, sir, yours, with great respect, Bath, June 6th, 1835.
HOME MISSIONARY SOCIETY.
SIR, -Amongst many of the more quiet contrivances for the increase of dissent which might be specified, there is the Home Missionary
Society, whose evident object is to spread the unscriptural and licentious principles of dissent throughout the length and breadth of the country. But instead of society in the singular, I ought, perbaps, more properly to say societies; for, besides the principal, or national, one, whose head quarters are in London, and whose field of operation is the whole kingdom, there are many local ones which have been instituted and are kept in existence by county or district associations of dissenting churches, as they are called. The Independents and Baptists have each their respective associations and Home Missionary Societies. An association sometimes consists of the congregations of a single county, and sometimes of two or more counties, just as cir: cumstances may seem to demand. Some of the associations embrace twenty, some thirty, some forty, and some fifty or sixty churches, as they are termed. There are sometimes, however, many congregations within the limits of an association that are not at all connected with it,—some for one reason, and some for another. Some do not approve of associations, considering them inconsistent with congregational independency; others, perhaps, disapprove of some of their principles or practices, and others are refused, or, having been admitted, are cut off by the association, on account of errors in doctrine, or delinquency in some point of discipline or practice. Every association has an annual meeting for the transaction of business. A moderator is chosen, and the ministers and messengers (persons deputed by the associated churches, one from each besides the minister,) arrange the affairs of the body. Sermons are preached, and collections (generally, if not always,) made for their home missionary proceedings, as each association has, for the most part, a local Home Missionary Society connected with it. And at the annual meeting, or by a committee, (dissenters are as remarkable for their numerous committees, as the present cabinet for commissions,) at their quarterly meeting, the movements of their missionary agents are prescribed, and their salaries paid. These agents are, of course, very carefully sent to those places where they are most likely to raise a congregation ; and this is the case with the general society, as well as with all the local ones. They all, however, and the general society very particularly so, profess to send their agents only where, what they call, the Gospel is not preached; but this is mere pretence, or, perhaps, what is worse, perfect Jesuitry; for, Gospel here or Gospel there, the question with them is—Are the principles of dissent preached there ? If not, and there is a probability of “establishing an interest" there, an agent will assuredly be sent, if they can spare the money to pay him. To substantiate my charge of Jesuitry, I need only say that, within the last twelve months, I called upon one of these agents, and asked him whether, as an honest man, he could say that the Gospel was not faithfully preached in the church of the parish in which he was then residing, and into which he had been sent for the pretended purpose of preaching the Gospel. After a moment's hesitation, the man candidly acknowledged that the Gospel was preached in the parish church. I immediately rejoined—“Why, then, do you not leave the town? for your society professes to send its agents nowhere but where the Gos
pel is not preached, and upon the supposition that what you call the Gospel is the Gospel, there certainly are many places where your services are much more needed." “ Yes,” said he, " but you know our principles are not preached here.” “O,” said I, “ that is it, is it? now I understand what you mean by the Gospel. The Gospel, it seems, are the principles of dissent, which are nowhere to be found in the Bible ; for just allow me to ask you—Is not the whole system of congregational independency dependant upon this one point-the election of ministers by the congregation ? because, if the congregation have no scriptural right to elect their ministers, those ministers must be appointed by some power independent of the congregation, and then what becomes of its independency ?” He admitted that such was the case, but contended that it was scriptural for the people to choose their ministers. I then asked him to point me out a single instance from the Word of God where it is said that a congregation elected its own minister ? I kept him to the point, and he was at last silent. I then asked him what had become of his whole system of dissent, and departed quite satisfied with the result of my call, having ascertained that, with these Home Missionary gentry, the word Gospel has two distinct meanings, and that they take care to use it in just that sense which may best suit their purposes for the time being. When they want to get money out of the pockets of the people, they then mean, by the term Gospel, a certain set of opinions ; but, on other occasions, it is used to signify the principles of dissent in general, and I am almost ashamed to say that they succeed but too well, even with some who profess to be churchmen; for they boastingly say-and I fear with too much truth-that several churchmen subscribe handsomely to the Home Missionary Society. Surely, they might find some better use for their money!
I have been led to the above remarks chiefly by reading “a Case," in the Home Missionary Magazine for May last. It is thus introduced—“ Urgent Case. The Case of Hingham, county of Norfolk.”
The writer of this “ Case" — this “ Urgent Case"-proceeds as follows:
“ The Gospel of Christ, which bringeth salvation, has been preached in a hired room in Hingham for several years, by the agents of the Home Missionary Society, aided by the occasional labours of neighbouring ministers of the Independent deno mination. Every previous effort to obtain a place for the establishment of Christian instruction, upon a permanent footing, has been counteracted, and eventually failed; and should it have pleased God to have removed the owner of the cottage occupied for divine (dissenting ?) worship, a population of 1550 souls would have been deprived of the means of spiritual consolation.'
Now, to shew that this is a “ Case” fraught with shameless falsehood, it is only necessary to state that there is a fine church standing quite in the town, and that the beautiful service of the church of England is regularly performed therein. Nor is it a new church, but an old parish church, which has been standing there for these hundreds of years. What, then, are we to think of men who can sit down and deliberately state that, but for the labours of the dissenting home missionaries, “a population of 1550 souls,” the whole population of Hingham, would be left destitute of the means of spiritual con
solation ?” But the “ Case" writer speaks also of the previous efforts of the home missionary agents “ to obtain a place for the establishment of Christian instruction;" thus evidently implying that before those agents delivered their preachments in the town, no“ Christian instruction," was afforded to the people. And further on, in his “ Case,” he says, " the Gospel is not regularly preached here by any other denomination;" and be it known also that this very“ Urgent Case” is signed, and “ most cordially and earnestly recommended to the liberality of the Christian public,” by four neighbouring dissenting ministers, of the Independent denomination, who, I will add, knew perfectly well at the time they signed it that it contained the most anblushing falsehoods, for they all live within nine miles of the place. It was, however, requisite—as is their regular practice—to represent the spiritual state of the town as most deplorable, in order that money might be drawn out of the pockets of those who are too easily excited by such “Cases,” and duped by such designing characters. And the case of Hingham is not a solitary one, for into whatever town or village the home missionary agents enter, for the establishment of what they falsely call the Gospel, their first object is to “creep into houses,” and to insinuate that the gospel is not preached by the clergy. Thus the very first movements of these men are directed to the creation of schisms and discord between the clergy and their parishioners; and when they have succeeded in obtaining a footing in a town, there is then too frequently a lasting source of opposition to the church, and of intermeddling in parochial affairs. A party is raised up in the place, and its peace ever after disturbed. On all political subjects too, in which the “ dissenting interest" is at all concerned, there is no lack of agitation. Petitions for political purposes are got up by the dissenting teacher and a few of his associates, and signed by all the discontented and disaffected in the town, and the little knot whom he may gather around him ever after figure away as “a church and congregation ;” but I do not hesitate to say that it is my firm belief that the main object of the leaders of the dissenting interest, in starting and keeping in existence the Home Missionary Society, is of a political nature-their scheming and movements ought therefore to be strictly watched, and attempts made to counteract them.
But what right dissenting teachers, whether they belong to the Home Missionary Society or not, have (upon their own principles) to enter into towns and villages to preach and give spiritual instruction I cannot guess. They profess that no man has a right to take upon himself the office of spiritually instructing another until he is chosen for that purpose by those whom he is to teach ; in other words, that the people have a right to choose their own teachers, and that no man has a right to teach them until they have given him “ a call.” What right then, I ask, have dissenting teachers to go into towns and villages to preach, before the people have chosen them, or given them “a call” for that purpose ? They pretend to act on the voluntary system,” but, whenever it suits their purpose, they very soon abandon their principles. Their sole object is to destroy the church, and they
will adopt just any proceedings whatever, in order to accomplish it, regardless of their own avowed principles. I do humbly conceive that something should be immediately done with a view of counter. acting the opposition now manifested to the church by papists and the various kinds of dissenters. Every sect of dissenters, whether popish or protestant, has its regiment of spiritual militia," distributed over the country, and busily employed. Considering the number of Jesuits, disguised and otherwise, and the agents of the Home Missionary Societies, and the various tribes of self-called and self-sent teachers who infest the country, cordially uniting in their implacable opposition to the church, it seems not so strange that the bad feeling towards her should be so extensive and so deeply rooted.
I am, Rev. Sir, most respectfully yours, NORFOLCIENSIS.
SIR,—Your correspondent, T., in his letters respecting Wickliff, has spoken of the extracts from the writings of the British Reformers, published by the Tract Society, in a manner calculated to convey an erroneous impression of the nature of that work. The design of that selection was expressly stated to be “to render a part of the writings of the British Reformers accessible to readers in general, so that the great mass of the population of England might become acquainted with works, which, under the Divine blessing, produced inestimable benefits to our forefathers." That publication never aspired to give reprints interesting to the antiquarian, or intended for the student who is able to enter fully into the study of the writings of the Reformers.
With respect to Wickliff, in particular, there was no attempt to offer an edition of his works. Only 240 pages of an unpretending duodecimo volume are occupied by the specimens of his writings, including a sketch of his life, which occupies nearly a fifth part of the whole, including some account of his writings, professedly drawn from Lewis, Baber and Vaughan, with a few additions from the personal inspection of a part of his manuscripts by the compiler, who says
“ It is deeply to be regretted, that a complete edition of Wickliff's writings never has been printed. Such a monument is due to the illustrious individual to whom we perhaps are indebted more than to any other, for the gospel light and religious liberty we enjoy. Milton says, “A good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.' Surely the writings of Wickliff ought not to be suffered to perish. A much smaller sum than in many instances has been vainly expended in monumental attempts to preserve the remembrance of persons whose names in a few short years have been almost entirely forgotten, would suffice to complete a national memorial record of our great reformer, more lasting than brass.' But, blessed be the Most High, when we look around, in every circumstance which endears to us the Protestant faith of our land, we are reminded of John Wick LiFF."
Your correspondent, however, has spoken of this work as if it assumed to be an exact reprint from the originals, and yet contained many alterations, and numerous places in which the sense of the original has been altogether lost, as well as frequent omissions. It