Page images

Indians; but it was reserved for the perseverance of disinterested Christian Jove, to prove, to the world at large, the practicability of an undertaking which had often been abandoned in despair.

It is animating to contemplate the United States-in the name, as it were, and as the representative of the various nations who have participated in the wrongs inflicted on this injured racepreparing to offer the noblest compen. sation in their power, by diffusing the Gospel throughout the Aborigines of this western world. And, surely, if any arguments were necessary in support of Missions, in addition to those derived from the force of the Divine commands, and the suggestions of diffusive charity, we should find them in the history of the early intercourse of Christian Europe with Asia, Africa, and America.


The Committee, in their Ninth Oc casional Report, lately published, acknowledge with great satisfaction the enlarged contributions received since the publication of their last Report. They regard it as a subject of the highest congratulation to every unbiassed mind, that no sooner did the Society stand forward at a critical moment in the great cause of the Christian Religion, against the combined efforts of blasphemy and infidelity, than the needed supplies were readily obtained, new auxiliaries appeared on its side, and many persons, from whom the Society had not previously met with any co-operation, now zealously joined in promoting its useful objects, and in giving it additional vigour and effect.

The Society has carried into effect its established plans for preventing open profanations of the Sabbath, with increased success. Since the last Report, its agents have regularly inspected the numerous districts in and about the metropolis; and no less than one hundred and thirty-four offenders have been prosecuted to conviction. By these means an opportunity has been afforded to the conscientious dealer for maintaining a decent and religious observance of the day; the outrages on public feeling have been restrained; nuisances before complained of have very sensibly abated; many districts have changed their appearance; and some, from having been noted for an entire disregard of the Christian SabCHRIST. OBSERV. No. 243.

bath, are now distinguished for the quiet and cleanliness which pervade their streets, and the peace and good order observed by their inhabitants on that hallowed day. The aid of the Society continues to be extended, either by advice or by more effectual methods, to such distant towus or districts as shall apply for it; and it has already reached to no less than nine counties.

In the month of August 1819, a short Report was published detailing the conviction and punishment of five men, detected by the Society's agents in disseminating obscene hand-bills on the Ealing, Winchester, and Chelmsford racegrounds; when no less than nine hundred and sixteen copies were seized and destroyed. These prosecutions have at one race-course, and probably at others, put a stop, for a time at least, to this outrage on public decency. The Society have since discovered three wholesale dealers, by whom the hawkers were supplied. One of these three men was the same individual who had made his escape at Doncaster; the second was the printer; and the other was possessed of a large stock of cop per-plate prints of the most disgusting obscenity; which he not only retailed in this country, but exported largely to America. Bills were found against these offenders, who were tried at the Lancaster assizes, and, having pleaded guilty, were severally sentenced to two months' imprisonment, to which, in the last of the three cases, was added a fine of 501. The judge, on passing sentence, remarked," The public are very much indebted to the Society for extending their care to distant parts of the country and I am very glad that they have extended it to this place, because it promotes decency, morality, and reli gion."

In London, the Society observed a considerable abatement in this traffic during twelve months after the proceedings against various offenders in the year 1818: but subsequently it began (though more covertly) to resume its former activity; of which the Society being apprised, six dealers were prosecuted and convicted.

The last transaction under this head respects the protection of one of the principal public seminaries in the kingdom, from the baneful effects of this detestable trade. The head master found that two boys were possessed, of obscene snuff-boxes, and quickly as2 B

certained that they had been sold to them by an itinerant Italian hawker; who, for the purpose of carrying on his infamous traffic with this seminary, had fixed his residence, for a time, at a public house in a neighbouring town. Application being made to the Society, the man was immediately apprehended, and convicted of the offence, and sentenced to six months' imprisonment, and to pay a fine of 51. The interposition of the Society was so sensibly felt at the seminary alluded to, that a liberal contribution, to be continued annually, was in consequence transmitted in aid of its funds.

The Committee detail, under the head of" infidel and blasphemous publications," ten different indictments, not one of which has failed, either for want of a proper selection or of competent evidence. Several of these were instituted against Richard Carlile and his agents. The results are before the public, and need not be here repeated. Repeated prosecutions, following closely on the publication of blasphemous and infidel works, and leaving their vendors no hope of profiting by their crime, are absolutely necessary to check this enormous evil; and under this view the Committee solicit instant and effectual aid from all classes of sincere friends to religion and humanity. They pledge themselves to the most persevering efforts in the application of the Society's funds, undeterred by any considerations of a personal nature, and, least of all, by the reproaches of evilminded men. They profess to do nothing more than to put the existing laws into execution against vice and immorality; a duty binding on all friends to social order, morality, and religion.

depôts, taking with him a letter addressed to the officers commanding, with specimens of the books, and offering supplies solely on the terms of purchase at reduced prices, except for regimental schools, hospitals, and guard-rooms; which, upon the written requisitions of commanding officers, he is authorized to supply gratuitously. By means of this travelling agent, forty stations or corps have had copies of the holy Scriptures tendered to them; and, in consequence, no less than 4615 copies of the word of God have been distributed, towards which the individuals supplied have contributed the unprecedented sum of 4841. 8s. 6d. The Society has thus had the best possible proof of the desire of the men to become possessed of the holy Scriptures, with a strong pledge that they value the books, and are likely to make a right use of them. The agent thus employed has invariably received the countenance and support of the officers in command; and in some instances he has not only had their cordial assistance in promoting the object of his mission, but has obtained their names as subscribers, besides supplying them with Bibles for their own use, at the Society's prices.

The agent of a kindred institution at Gravesend, who also acts for this Society, in visiting twenty-one ships, in which detachments were embarked to join their regiments abroad, to the number of 1646 individuals, found scarcely twenty copies of the Scriptures among the whole of them. This agent, a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, has distributed to these persons 362 Bibles and Testaments.

The Committee are now engaged in the introduction of a plan for an enlarged circulation of the Scriptures in his

NAVAL AND MILITARY BIBLE Majesty's ships, in the hope of extend


The Committee of this excellent in stitution state in their last Report, that pressing and extensive demands continue to be made upon them for copies of the holy Scriptures, both at home and abroad. Urgent applications had been made not only from Scotland and Ireland, and various naval and military stations in England, but from India, the Mauritius, Ceylon, Corfu, Halifax, and Canada. Besides extensive issues through the medium of the Committees of Auxiliary Societies, a person of piety and zeal, many years in the army, has been employed to visit various regiments and

ing to the British sailor, in common with the British soldier, the means of becoming a purchaser of the sacred volume.

As the result of their proceedings during the year, the Committee report, that since the anniversary of 1820, they have found it necessary to purchase no less than 8924 Bibles, and 4850 Testaments, without being able to keep a sufficient stock of books to meet the demauds upon them. The total distribution of the Society, in Bibles and Testaments, for the year has been 10,142 copies. These exertions have unavoidably involved the Society in pecuniary engagements far beyond the means

Placed within the control of the Committee. From the abstract of the receipts and expenditure, it appears that although the former exceed those of last year by more than 500. still the expenses will subject the Society to engagements amounting to nearly 2000l.; so that great exertion is necessary on the part of its friends to provide for the payment of this sum, and to secure a supply of books adequate to the numerous and urgent demands upon the benevolence of the Society. The Committee, in thus venturing on an expenditure beyond their existing resources, look to the public liberality to approve their zeal, and enable them to fulfil their engagements. They state, that "they ventured forward with reluctance; but the stimulus of so highly interesting a cause was too powerful to be resisted, and the good effects of their labours such as to eucourage every possible exertion in continuing them. The beneficial effects, indeed, of this Society are not conjec taral or merely speculative; the actual fruits that have flowed from it are most valuable and much beyond expectation." Numerous instances of the moral and religious improvement effected in the Navy and Army by the distribution of the Scriptures, are recorded in the Reports of the Society.

Several interesting communications occur in the Appendix to the Report. The following will shew their tenour. From an Officer commanding one of his Majesty's ships lately paid off, dated March, 1821

"I wish all success to your approaching meeing at as an important branch of an admirable institution, productive, I believe, of much religious, moral, and professional benefit. In the ship I last commanded we were fully supplied with Bibles and Testaments, from the Naval and Military Bible Society; all of which were distributed gratuitously to the men, according to their messes, on our being first manned; and they were certainly duly appreciat ed; for subsequent requests for individual donations of books were frequent ly made during the whole time the ship remained in commission (nearly three years and a half), and on paying off, the crew, as well as the officers, were dis posed to subscribe a larger sum to the Naval and Military Bible Society than I thought it right to take from them.

"I think the effects, as far as they could be traced, were very favourable

to the interests of morality, and the good of the service. Before we separated, desertion had quite ceased, as had the necessity for flogging; habits of drunkenness, and other vicious indulgences, had quite disappeared on board; and the obedience and activity of the crew were highly satisfactory, and had been very favourably noticed. They all volunteered to re-enter in the ship, if she were continued in commission; and I have heard from an excellent officer, who carried a great part of them with him into another ship to which he was appointed, that he still observes in them the same good conduct."

Since this Report was presented, we have understood that the debt mentioned in it has been considerably reduced; but that there is reason to apprehend that no balance will remain in the treasurer's hands at the next anniversary, unless some timely resources are afforded towards providing for the future supply of the sacred volume. Many urgent applications have been received from home and foreign stations, which, for want of the necessary means, have not yet been complied with. We are further informed that during the last year 10,142 copies of the word of God have been furnished. chiefly to individual sailors and soldiers in his Majesty's service; which, with the exception of the years 1816 and 1817, when the British army in France was so amply supplied, exceeds the issue of any former year since the formation of the Society in 1780.

[blocks in formation]

bution from this Auxiliary Society of 6,5301.

"A corresponding increase has also taken place in the issues of Bibles and Testaments, of which there have been circulated from the depository, during the last year, 1,139; viz. 653 Bibles, and 486 Testaments; being an excess, above the issue of the preceding year, of 274. The total number of copies of the holy Scriptures, which have been circulated by the Cambridge Auxiliary Society since its formation in the year 1811, now amounts to 13,638-a little leaven, indeed, as it may appear, considered in itself, but the precious effects of which may surely baffle all the efforts of our calculation or conjecture, till they shall be revealed with certainty in the great day of account."

From the speech of Lord Ashtown, at the anniversary of the Southampton Branch Bible Society

"The translation of the Bible into our vulgar tongue, and its diffusion among the laity, were the grand objects of our primitive reformers; and its translation into the vulgar tongue of all nations, and its consequent diffusion, are our great objects now. There is not an argument that has been adduced against the Bible Society, that has not been urged with equal force against the first reformers. The necessity of a learned commentary, the incompetency

of the unlearned, the dangers of ignorant enthusiasm, have been dwelt on with all the acumen and all the zeal of polemical divinity. Far be it from me to depreciate the merits of many illustrious divines, who have devoted their time and abilities to elucidate the sacred writings; neither do I wish to disconrage, but on the contrary have concurred in, the labours of the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, and am a member of a society for publishing religious tracts in the sister kingdom: but the path of salvation, as pointed out in the Bible itself, should be open, as the light of heaven, to all. The impor tant doctrines of revelation, the sublime and simple moral precepts of the Gospel, its pathetic and interesting narratives and parables, set casuistry and criticism at defiance: they sink deep into the heart; the most unlearned reader comprehends them, and feels their force. He forms his rules for faith and practice, not on difficult passages, or insulated texts, but on the general scope and tenor of the Scriptures, on what is every where inculcated-the love and fear of God, faith in Christ, and good will towards men. Has any of us ever known the most illiterate man or woman made worse in any relation of life, as parent, child, brother, friend, or subject, by the perusal of the Bible?" (To be continued.)



FRANCE.-Some tumults of a serious nature have taken place in Paris, and also in some other parts of France. On the 24th of February, General Berthon appeared in the market-place of Thouars, with some other officers, and a party of about forty or fifty individuals, and publicly read a proclaination announcing the determination of the confederacy of which he was the head to destroy the dominion of nobles and priests, and to abolish taxes, &c. He invited all who agreed in his project to meet him at an appointed place, and a few persons appear to have joined his standard; but the party were speedily dispersed. The General himself has not yet been taken.-This movement seems to have arisen from the discontents which prevail among the soldiery, who have never ceased to view the Bourbons in connexion

with the humiliating reverses which France has sustained, and which paved the way for their restoration to the throne.-The tumults in Paris have originated in the popular indignation which has been excited by the preaching of certain Jesuit missionaries, who, it is said, have not only revived some of the worst mummeries of Popery, but have laboured to re-establish the exploded doctrines of divine right, unqualified submission, and blind faith. We fear that even under its purest and simplest form, Christianity would be an object of indifference, if not of dislike, to a large por tion of the people of Paris; but with the extrinsic and adventitious adjuncts of bigotry, fanaticism, and political servility, it must be doubly revolting to them. The agents in the late outrages have manifested their hostility to the missionaries, by explosions

of fulminating powders, by placing mephitic compositions in several of the churches where the missionaries preached, and by insulting the worshippers on their ingress and egress. The presence of the military has been required to suppress these disgraceful transactions; but the disposition of mind, in which they originated, it will be found much more difficult to subdue. When we speak of these scenes as disgraceful, we do not mean to exempt the government from a share of the reproach. They appear to have acted unwisely in giving their direct countenance to the itinerating ministrations of these missionaries throughout the kingdom, and in the heart of Paris itself; especially as these men affect to treat France as a heathenized land, and in token of its being reclaimed, by their efforts, to Christianity, solemnly plant the Cross wherever they go. Nor do their proceedings outrage only those whose minds have been infected with the impiety and infidelity which were so widely diffused by the Revolution; nor even the still larger number of those who, perhaps unreasonably, think they see in the growing ascendancy of the Jesuits, devoted as these are to the Romish hierarchy, the revival of the power of the priesthood, and the resumption of the tithes and other property of the church. The best and soundest part of the Gallican Church have been equally opposed to them, because they anticipate, from the success of the Jesuits, the re-establishment of the most revolting errors and abuses of the Romish faith and ritual, and the renewed subjection of the human understanding to the gross ignorance and blind superstition of the darker ages. The offence at the present moment is increased by a belief that the missionaries are warmly patronized and favoured, not by the king, but by his family, and especially by his brother, who is generally regarded in France as being at the head of the now dominant party, and who has credit given him, in the general estimation, whether justly or not we pretend not to say, for that degree of uncompromizing bigotry which would lead him to favour the pretensions of the court of Rome, and even to replace in its full vigour, if it were possible, the whole of the ancient ecclesiastical regime. What seems to have given a colour to this severe judgment of the royal family, is the marked aversion with which they have from

the first regarded the schools instituted in France on the system of mutual teaching, and the manifest discouragement with which these schools are now treated by the persons in power, while the rival establishments of the peres de la foi, under Jesuit influence, are particularly favoured. And when it is considered that the New Testament, which began to be liberally introduced into the former, has been excluded from the latter, some idea may be formed of the improbability of diffusing rational and spiritual views of Christianity by means of the favoured system. The attempt, however, to arrest the progress of light in France, can hardly succeed. It may be shut out by one entrance, but it will force its way through others. The distaste felt to the missionaries and their patrons will incline many to read the Scriptures to which they are so hostile. The zeal they display will serve to excite a spirit of exertion in those more sober and rational minds, who are opposed to their bigotry and excess, and who yet desire to see Christianity uni versally diffused. The Protestan. Churches, enjoying as they do rest and toleration, and the Bible Societies connected with them, will also, we trust, do something to prevent the stagnation of moral and religious improvement; and there being a large class of the community who will exercise, notwithstanding all that can be done to restrain it, the right of private judgment, religious light will, by the blessing of God, gradually spread, and its influence will serve to fructify tracks which are now either barren, or are covered with the weeds and briars of scepticism and immorality.

The extent of the late disturbances, owing to the state of the French press, cannot be ascertained; nor are we told how far they have been connected with any prevailing dissatisfaction respecting the character and conduct of the new ministry. It is abundantly clear, however, that the ultra-royalists, who were so unpopular before, have lost none of their unpopularity by being in power, and have even materially increased it by some of their measures, and especially by the law for the regulation of the press, and by their efforts to repress the freedom of discussion in the chamber of deputies, where its members occasionally employ the most outrageous expressions of vituperation against the speakers on the opposition side of the house, not

« PreviousContinue »