« PreviousContinue »
our idea of a perfect sermon. It is not a philosophical disquisition, yet it is not wanting in a sound philosophy, which has revelation for its prompter, and common sense for its basis. It is not a flight of the imagination, yet it has a brilliancy such as a chastened imagination may supply. It is not a piece of rhetoric, but glows with the warmth of energy and intellect. It is sound, judicious, argumentative, blending feeling with intellect, in well-adjusted proportions.
The religion which answers, in Mr. Acton's opinion, to the description of the one thing needful, is one which may bring all good and complacent affections powerfully into operation in the soul ; which may solemnly awaken and impress man's conscience; which may entirely accord with man's reason; and lastly, afford him bright and cheering hopes of the future, both for himself and others, both for time and eternity.
PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS OF RAMMOHUN ROY.
( Continued from page 573.) Here let me add, that before leaving him on this occasion, I asked him if he was still employed upon his Life of Mahomet. He told me that he was; I think he said that he intended to publish it before he should leave England. The gentleman, however, who had the charge of his papers
after his death, and to whom I mentioned this circumstance, said that he had not seen it among his manuscripts. He said, also, that he meant to remain in England a year longer, and then to return to Calcutta ; but even in that case, that he should still visit America. Hle looked to Boston even with a strong sentiment of home.
The next time I saw him was on the 16th of August. I was alone with him at my first interview. Now he was one of a circle of friends, in each of whom he felt a strong confidence, and with whom he passed a long evening in the freest and most active discussion. The first subject of our conversation at that time was the prospects of Unitarianism in America. It was a subject of no ordinary interest; for he thought and felt that the advancement of Christianity in its highest influences was essentially connected with right apprehensions of the character and government of God, and of the character and offices of Christ. His very manner of speaking of our Saviour was very peculiar. Next to God, Jesus was the highest object of his reverential love; and this love, exalted as it was in his mind above every earthly sentiment, was more strongly indicated in the tones of his voice, and the expressions of his countenance, than it could have been by any mere words in which he could have uttered it. From the prospects of Unitarianism in America, the conversation passed to the character of our Lord; and the query arose - I think it was proposed by himself,—can we account for the perfect moral excellence of our Lord, except upon the supposition of the impartation to him of moral powers, as extraordinary as were his piety and virtue? He took the ground of the absolutely perfect moral excellence of our Lord, and of his as the only absolutely perfect moral excellence which has ever been known upon the earth; and he contended, with great power, that this fact could be accounted for upon no other principle, than that of as extraordinary moral endowments. One of the gentlemen present pressed the objection with great acuteness and power, that if such extraordinary powers were given to our Lord, the very fact implies a proportionate diminution of his virtue; that virtue, in the sense in which it is here used, is, and can only be, that moral attainment which is the result of choice, -of a deliberate determination of the will,—and of a fidelity maintained by effort against obstacles and difficulties. The Rajah, on the contrary, maintained that extraordinary endowments were essential for the qualification of our Lord for his extraordinary temptations and trials, and for the accomplishment of his work as a moral Saviour; that the Omnipotent, who has created man with a great inequality of powers, for the various purposes of his government here, might, and with perfect consistency, have endowed our Lord with extraordinary moral as well as intellectual powers, as the long predicted instrument of his purposes of mercy and happiness to the human race; and, that it was fit that a perfect model should be set before men, in order to raise them to the relative perfection to which we are called in the Gospel. Since that evening, I have heard and read speculations upon the question of Rammohun Roy's views of our Saviour; upon the question whether or not he was in his faith a Unitarian? It has been asserted and maintained that he was not, nor am I much surprised at this assertion. Not only did he believe, but felt, as I have known few seem to feel, the divinity of our Lord's character and teachings ; and I should think it hardly possible, that any one, of any sect, could have heard him speak of Christianity, and not have been impressed with a sense of the extraordinary reverence with which he regarded Christ. I never, indeed, asked him whether he was a Unitarian; nor did I ever attend to his conversation with a particular reference to the question. I never had a doubt upon it. Not one expression, either in his writings or in any of my intercourse with him, could have led to such a doubt. But I can easily conceive that one strongly desirous to believe that he was not a Unitarian, should infer from the strong language in which he would speak of our Lord,-of the divinity of our Lord's character, more than was implied in his expressions, or than was intended by them. He was obviously averse from speculation upon the nature of Christ, and his rank in the universe. His soul was full of desire to possess, and to see universally extended, the spirit of the example and of the instructions of Christ.
My last interview with him was on the 19th of August. He then called upon my friend, Mr. Philp, and myself, and passed two hours
Two other gentlemen, Dr. Boott, of London, and our brother, Mr. Dewey, were also with us. In speaking of England, he soon expressed his great disappointment in regard to the influence of Christianity there; and he ascribed its limited and very defective influence, in a great degree, to the neglect of pastoral duties by the ministers of Christianity. We were thus led to a discussion of the manner in which our religion is generally administered throughout Christendom, and of the means to be employed to extend religious knowledge, and to excite and strengthen Christian interest and sympathies. He said that the ministers of all the prevailing religions in the world were
more faithful, in these respects, than were Protestant Christian ministers generally; that among the Hindoos, priests have the charge of from ten to fifty families, each of which they visit once or thrice every week, as well for religious as for general and social objects ; and that it was so, also, with Mohammedans and the Persians. The objects and interests of my own ministry became a topic of our conversation ; and I have met with no one who more heartily sympathized with me in these objects. Here end my notes of my intercourse with him. On the 21st of August I left London. On the 5th of September he also left it for Stapleton Grove, about two miles from Bristol. On the 18th of the same month he was seized with a fever. His disease settled on his brain, and he expired on the 27th. He had gone to Stapleton Grove to obtain rest,-repose. He had been wearied and worn by London hours and London intercourse. Yet, in his retirement, he could not find the rest which he had sought. On the evening previous to the attack of the disease which terminated in his death, he stood three hours in a circle, to which he was addressing answers to the queries which were proposed to him. He was greatly anxious to meet the wishes of every one, and to give all the information that might be asked of him. The most minute and satisfactory account of his last days is to be found in the appendix to the sermon on his death, preached in Bristol soon after that event, hy my friend, Dr. Carpenter, of that city. No religious service was performed at his funeral. He had desired that there should be none. He wished that no rite should be performed, the knowledge of which, in Calcutta, would interfere with the influence of his character and writings in his native country. I was told that the solemnity of his burial was the most impresssive that can be imagined. Dr. Carpenter, on that occasion, said to Mr. John Foster, Author of the Essay on Decision of Character, &c., 'Some, perhaps, might have been gratified, if some tribuie had here been paid to the memory of this great man.' The reply of Mr. Foster was, " Who would venture to speak over a grave like this! Mr. Foster lived within the gronds of Stapleton Grove. He was one of those who passed the evening with him immediately previous to his last illness. I visited him there; and he expressed to me his conviction of Rammohun Roy's faith in Christianity, and his strong impression of his Christian character.
I have spoken of the manners of Rammohun Roy. Let me add, that the respect with which he addressed himself to females was very peculiar. And scarcely less marked was the respect, though always accompanied with a most winning smile, with which he addressed himself to children. Whenever he met them, the love which children felt for him, and the eagerness with which they gathered about him, were extraordinary. Their hearts were more delighted, through the affections which he called forth in them, than were their imaginations by the spectacle of a Hindoo, a Brahmin, the ambassador of an Oriental sovereign. He has, indeed, been accused of extravagance in his courtesy; and of accommodating himself in sentiment, as well as manners, to the society in which he might find himself. And true it is, that he maintained a remarkable delicacy in dissenting from the opinions of others. In an argument with any one, you would greatly have admired the attention with which he listened; the calmness with which he waited till the person addressing him had ceased to speak; and the
perfect urbanity with which he exposed what he thought was an error, and illustrated and maintained what he thought was truth. Yet, in the two last interviews which I had with him, he was, very early in the conversation, called to dissent from two of the gentlemen who were with us; and he held his ground, most respectfully indeed, but most firmly. I think it probable that there were occasions on which he laid himself open to the imputation of a compromise of sentiment. But I believe that there were occasions when, for reasons which he thought sufficient, he seemed to concede to a bigot, rather than contend with him. That, however, he did contend, and earnestly, I well know. Yet, had he been dispused to contention as often as he differed from those around him upon questions of politics or of religion, he must have lived in daily conflict with some in almost every circle into which he entered. He was, indeed, especially upon religion and in regard to his own faith, harassed with questions he did not feel disposed, and certainly was not obliged, to answer. I think it probable that he sometimes evaded these questions, as a harasse man who was still unwilling 10 excite unkindly feeling, would be strongly tempted to evade them. But I do not believe that the charge of compromising a sentiment has any other foundation. I never conversed with any one more frank, more ingenuous; and I have met with very few who seemed to me to possess, as eminently as he possessed, the spirit of the Gospel,--the spirit of our Master.',
Rammohun Roy was a Unitarian, but he was not a partizan. He had in him nothing of the spirit of sect or party. emphatically, a Christian philanthropist. He seemed to be, and I believe was, one of the most disinterested, pure, upright and humble of
His conceptions were very quick; and though he sometimes hesitated in the expression of his thoughts, it was alone from the difficulty he felt in selecting the most appropriate words. He had studied the New Testament under great advantages, as well as great disadvantages. He opened it first in the freshness and vigour of manhood, with, a mind ardently desirous of truth ; and above all, of religious truth. He opened it as an inquirer for God and duty. As much below the standard of the Gospel, therefore, as he saw were the character and lives of the mass of Christians around him, so much more bright and heavenly seemed to him the character and claims of Christ and of Christianity. His last days were embittered by the persecutions of a man whom he had greatly aided in India, when no one else would aid him there; and to whoin, under the most accumulated embarrassments and when wanting bread, he had been an equal benefactor in England. This man, whom he had employed as a secretary, had circulated the most disgraceful reports of him
But the traducer has also died, and has done what he could to expiate his offence, by leaving a recantation of his atrocious calumnies. I believe, therefore, that the good name of Rammohun, Roy now calls for no defence. He is regarded in India as one of its greatest benefactors. And he will, in proportion as he shall be better known, be regarded as an ornament and honor of his race.
Your friend and brother, February 2017, 1885.
FAVORITISM TOWARDS THE ESTABLISHED CHURCH AT LIVERPOOL. It is very difficult for some persons to learn what social justice means. Those who have lived long at the public expense, will live as much longer as public opinion will allow them. They see no reason for change, and can be dispossessed of their monopoly only by the evertions of those, who, to the will, unite the ability, to expose their grasping propensities. We have therefore been pleased to find, in the Liverpool Albion, of Nov. 9, the following letter, written by one of the steadiest and most enlightened friends of civil and religious liberty; who has the pleasure of knowing that in this case he has not laboured in vain, for an injunction has been obtained to restrain the Corporation from mortgaging the corporate property, by which they intended to raise £105,000, to vest in payment and augmentation of the church livings under their patronage.' TO HIS WORSHIP THE MAYOR AND THE COMMON COUNCIL OF THE BOROUGH OP
LIVERPOOL 'Gentlemen, -Having, from the progress of events, and the juster opinions which prevail on the subject of civil rights, become a burgess of this borough, and understanding that the common council, before they retire from office, are making another attempt to alienate a considerable amount of the corporate funds, for the support of the clergy of the Established Church, I beg leave to protest against the illegality, as well as the injustice, of their proceedings on this subject.
• On the general principle of contributions of this nature I will first remark, that, as the Scriptures are alike addressed to all mankind, and as all sects contribute to the support of the corporate funds, it appears to me to be unjust, that one sect in particular should alone have the whole of the pecuniary benefit ; and I think it would be equally reasonable to pay from the corporate funds the physicians' fees, or the schoolmasters' and bakers' bills of churchmen, as it is to pay from the same source exclusively for their religious instruction.
* I beg leavo to recal to the recollection of the Common Council, that the bill for inposing any further permanent provision for the support of the Clergy of Liverpool, was opposed by a petition to parliament, signed by upwards of ten thousand of the inhabitants; and that, when the substance of it was attempted to be introduced by a clause in the Municipal Reform Bill, it was indignantly rejected by the House of Commons,
• Circumstanced as the borough is, I am not opposed to a public provision for the inaintenance of religion; but I am opposed to the partial and sectarian application of such support. The expenditure of the Corporation, exclusively for the support of the Established Church, has, on the average of the last five years, exceeded £10,000. per annum; which sum, if continued for religious purposes, should, I think, be divided in accordance with that best precept of Christianity, enjoining all mankind to “ do as they would be done by;" and if so, the appropriation would be nearly as follows:-£4,375 for the support of the Established Church, £3, 1.25 to Protestant Dissenters, £2,500 to Roman Catholics; total, £10,000. And unless it be admitted, that the members of the Established Church are either poorer or worse Christians than the other sects, I cannot discern the reasonableness or justice of their having more than a fair share of pecuniary support, much less that they should have the whole of it; and I further obscrve, that corporate grants for this object cannot be justified as tithes are by ancient laws or general usage.
The Common Council will be aware, that Mr. Gladstone and other individuals have erected churches, and, by the selection of ministers acceptable to the congregations, and by good management, they defray the necessary expenses, and repay themselves a fair rate of profit or interest on the sums they have thus invested ; and I cannot discern any good reason why results not very dissimilar might not follow a better administration of the concerns of the Corporation churches.
• The legislature having, wisely and justly, placed all denominations of Christians on an equality as to their civil rights, future legislation, whether relating to the affairs of the empire or to those of a borough, I respectfully submit, can no longer be conducted for the exclusive benefit of a sect or party; and I further add, that the circumstances under which the present proceedings are brought forward, are calculated to excite a suspicion, that the advantage of individuals, rather than the general good of the community, is the impelling object of them.
I have the honour to remain, with much respect, your very obedient servant, Liverpool, Oct. 29, 1835.