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highest,—we want the government and the legislature to know, and to act as if they knew,—that God does really govern the world; and that famine and pestilence, panic and fainting of heart, contentions and divisions among the people, are his chastisements, now, in our own day, as well as of old ;—when nations refuse to acknowledge his sway, or to submit to his righteous commands.
At present we find something only a little better than the observance of a neutrality between Christianity and infidelity. Our rulers and legislators do, in words, declare that they believe in the existence of God; and admit that his commands are holy, and ought to be obeyed. But here they stop.
Abroad, they can be guilty of the greatest wickedness, and can defend it as prudent and politic. They can prepare, for the purpose of commercial gain, large quantities of a deleterious drug, which they know to be destructive to the lives of those to whom they sell it. They can sedulously introduce this among a half-instructed people, like the Chinese; disregarding the repeated complaints of the government of that country; arming our vessels to beat down opposition to the landing of this poison, and plunging into a war, at last, rather than give up the trade. And yet, after witnessing all these results, they can still refuse to retrace their steps, or to abandon this nefarious traffic; on the mere plea, that the opiumsmuggling is very profitable, and yields a revenue which the Indian government cannot afford to lose !
At home the like practical disbelief of God's superintending eye is everywhere visible.
If a necessity arises for the construction of a new building for the meetings of the legislature, not a word is said of the lack of means. Three quarters of a million,-a million,-nay even more, is freely granted, merely to raise one single edifice, in which the peers and commons of England may transact their legislative business.
But if it be humbly represented to the same men, that by their own neglect, they have suffered many districts of England to lapse almost into heathenism; no care whatever being taken as to whether there was any religious instruction provided for them, or not: and that in this way about six millions of the people had become excluded from the opportunity of learning the way to heaven, and of joining in the worship and service of God,—when all this is stated, and that upon evidence which leaves no room for doubt or cavil as to the facts,—the answer of the government and the legislature is, that the treasury is just now so poor, that some plan must be devised for borrowing some money of the Queen Ann's Bounty Board, for the endowment of new ministers : but that as to the
building of more churches, that must be left to the people to do for themselves, by voluntary contribution ; for that the same government which can readily disburse £1,000,000 for a new House of Parliament, cannot even find a poor £100,000 for the erection of new churches ! And this sort of half-acknowledgment of a plain obligation, is actually received by the House, and by a large party among the people, with downright admiration ; in so far that the Prime Minister who thus plainly declares that he believes Christianity, but regards it as a matter of secondary importance, is actually lauded by people calling themselves “Conservatives," as evincing by this financial neutrality a high degree of administrative talent.
The same spirit pervades every branch of public and private business. Represent to the Legislature and the Parliament that large masses of the infant poor are kept constantly toiling in mills and factories, to an extent which is alike destructive of health and morals and domestic happiness,—the difficulty is again immediately started, that “we cannot afford” to do justice or to love mercy : that some pecuniary interests, the prosperity of some branch of trade, will be endangered by any interference. Thus, in every department we are met with the like obstruction,—that men cannot, or will not, believe, that “honesty," in the largest sense of the word, is the “best policy;" or that “godliness hath the promise of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come."
Men of all shades of opinion, even down to the Socinian or the Deist, are very ready to admit, that the morality of Scripture is unequalled and sublime. They can understand, -or at least they profess to do so,—the benevolence of such injunctions as, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself :” “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law :" "As we have opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto those of the household of faith.” But how rare is even the least attempt to carry these injunctions into practice! Not only is this almost unattempted by the unbelievers; but even among those who profess to be real Christians, and many of whom probably are so, how entirely is this course of conduct laid aside as impossible or irrational ; and “buy where you can buy cheapest " substituted for it. Shew that this or that commodity cannot be sold at the price at which it is offered, except the workmen are half-starved, or the creditor defrauded, upon how heedless an ear do your proofs fall! How immediately does the baser passion of self-interest resume its sway, and the prospect of a “bargain” become irresistible !
The effects of this constant practice of irresponsible selfishness
are now beginning to be felt; in general privation and discontent. The further the system extends, the wider extends the suffering. Two or three trades may be disorganized by it, and a few persons only feel the loss, while' great numbers please themselves with the gain. But let it become general, and equally general becomes the havoc. Mr. Bosanquet has shewn by the most exact details, that “there is now no profit made upon "silver forks and spoons, by an ordinary silversmith." (p. 227.) The fact is not a solitary one; for it is matter of notoriety that all the iron manufactured in England at this moment, is manufactured at a loss of at least one pound sterling per ton. And in Lancashire cottons which formerly were woven at a profit of so many pence per yard, now yield only a fraction of a penny,--one-sixteenth or one-thirty-second, and often produce none at all. Carry this system through all branches of trade and manufacture, and universally abolish profits! Would not society be dissolved ?
The subject, however, is too extensive for our narrow limits. And, except for its bearing on the happiness of the millions, we should not care to enter on it. But in this point of view it is fearful. A few more weeks or months must behold the discharge of many thousands of the workmen now employed by our ironmasters. Our cotton-manufactures are merely proceeding on the speculation excited by the opening into China. The prospects, therefore, of the next winter are most uncertain. But while we regard these features of the case with fear and trepidation, how can we forget the striking fact, that if our people were but properly employed on the land, the prospects of our manufacturers would be but of trifling importance.
We often call to mind the old statesman's remark, “See, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed !” and are ready to parody it, with, "See with how little Christianity the world is kept together."
The Truth, embodied in the lives and teaching of Christ's disciples, is “the salt of the earth,” without which it corrupts and decays. Supposing it to be the fact, generally admitted, that there is more of the theoretical, book-knowledge of the truth, in Eng. land than in any other part of the world, it becomes a subject of mournful contemplation, to remark, nevertheless, what a catalogue of infidelities, immoralities and crimes, Mr. Bosanquet is able to lay to her charge. How small a proportion of the whole nation may we take to be even professedly attached to Christ. And how much smaller, still, the insignificant and fractional part, of those who shew by their lives that they are governed by the motives of the gospel. Yet, amidst this depressing review, can we forget the wonderful elevation to which this country has been raised, in the sight of the whole world; or can we disconnect it from the fact, of England's being, however unworthy, the depositary and the assertor of THE TRUTH.
But if it be true,—and true we fear it is that an observer, casting his eye around our senate, would discern only here and there, only in ones and twos, the men who dare even profess their allegiance to Christ;—if he might traverse our Exchange, or our Guildhall, and scarcely meet with one man out of twenty who did not curl his lip with scorn at the name of "saint ;” if he might survey our whole metropolis on a Sabbath evening, and find more than twenty persons openly breaking the Lord's day, for one who is even outwardly keeping it;—surely our exclamation of wonder will be appreciated and understood, when we remark, With how little of real Christianity has our national character been earned !
But there is one natural inference from this view which is most delightful and encouraging. It is this: If things be as they are, -if the fame of Britain for Bible truth spreads far and wide, and if God appears to bless us as though we were sincerely honouring him; if all this be so, amidst our manifold short-comings and unworthiness, what would be the state of society if even a respectable minority,-if even one third or one fourth of the whole community, were real Christians? It seems difficult to realize the momentous change. That every third man who passed us in the street, should be upon the Master's business! Why, the world would be altogether changed; it would be wholly another kind of place from that which we at present see.
Yet it is quite certain, that a day is coming, and is even very near, when much more than this shall actually be realized. When " the people shall be all righteous : " when, over all the earth, “there shall be one Lord, and His name one:” when “they shall not teach every man his neighbour, saying, “Know the Lord,” for all shall know him from the least unto the greatest. What a transition, from the subject with which we commenced! What a change must pass over the land, when it is really brought to Christ! We know, indeed, that this work is far too mighty for the hand of man. Yet man may, and ought, to scatter the seed, which, in God's good time, shall assuredly spring up into a glorious harvest.
A CHARGE, delivered to the Clergy of the Three Dioceses of
Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay, at the Primary Metropolitical Visitation, 1842, 1843. By DANIEL, Bishop of Calcutta, and Metropolitan of India. London: Seeleys. 1843.
We rose from the perusal of this Charge with a livelier apprehension than we had ever before realized of the wise man's familiar, but most forcible similitude, “As cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.
This is, so far as we know, the only METROPOLITICAL charge that has been delivered throughout the Protestant Episcopate within the memory of living man. And it is eminently worthy of that high distinction. While “contending earnestly” (which in these unhappy times is but too much needed) "for the faith once delivered to the saints,” and “ holding fast the form of sound words," the right reverend Author bears in mind the apostolical injunction, that all is to be “done in faith and LOVE, which is in Christ Jesus ;" nor can we more fitly delineate the wisdom and the spirit with which he speaks, than by appropriating the fervid language of
the poet :
“Paul's love of Christ, and steadiness unbribed,
His apostolic charity the same." It is not our custom, however, to deal in ụnqualified and undiscriminating eulogy even towards Episcopal writers ; and we profess to hold in our hands a telescope of such power, that by its aid we could discern spots, if spots there were, in the disc even of the far-off Metropolitical sun of India. We will, therefore, proceed to assign the grounds on which we determine that Bishop Wilsonin this straight-forward, single-hearted, spirited, and most seasonable Charge-has rendered most essential service, not only to the Church of India, over which he so worthily presides, but to the cause of Evangelical truth, in his unforgotten father-land.
The Charge is appropriately inscribed to the Right Rev. the Lord Bishops of Madras and Bombay. It was composed, the Author states, with much fear and anxiety; under a deep sense of the novelty, as well as the importance, of the Metropolitical character, and “with little guidance, except from the outline of precedents in early ecclesiastical records.” It was designed to embody the tone of frank and fraternal communication with bro
Cowper, Table Talk.