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REVIEW.

PUBLICATIONS ON THE JAMAICA BAPTIST MISSIONS.

1. Jamaica Newspapers. Baptist Herald ; Falmouth Post; Morning

Journal, 1841–42. 2. Circular of the Baptist Missionary Society, January, 1842, 4to. pp.8. 3. Baptist Missions in Jamaica : A Reply to the Circular of the Com

mittee of the Baptist Missionary Society. By William Garland Barrett, Missionary from Jamaica, in connexion with the London Missionary Society. 8vo. pp. 16. J. Snow. 4. A Review of the Rev. W. G. Barrett's Pamphlet. By Samuel

Green, Walworth. 8vo. pp. 32. Houlston & Stoneman. 5. The Evangelical Magazine, 1842. Ward & Co. 6. The United Secession Magazine, 1842. Simpkin & Co. 7. The Patriot Newspaper, 1812. 8. The Christian Examiner, 1842. J. Snow. 9. An Exposition of the System pursued by the Baptist Missionaries in

Jamaica, by the Missionaries and Catechists of the London Missionary Society, in that Island. 8vo. pp. 32. J. Snow. 10. Remarks on An Exposition," &c. by the Committee of the Baptist Missionary Society. To which is appended the Valedictory Letter of the Committee, to the Churches lately in connexion with the Society in Jamaica. 8vo. pp. 22. 1843. Houlston & Stoneman.

We cannot be charged with unseemly haste, in proceeding to review these publications on the Baptist Mission in Jamaica, seeing that for more than two years the controversy has been maintained in circulars, pamphlets, magazines, and newspaper letters and leaders, English, Colonial, and American. An earlier notice was indeed intended by us, but we felt that till the Committee of the Baptist Missionary Society had replied, the case was incomplete : the publication of their pamphlet, the last on our list, however, has perfected the controversial cycle

, and affords a convenient opportunity to retrace its course. This quarrel cannot be concealed, but it may be greatly misunderstood ; and therefore, as the friends of truth and righteousness, and as the advocates of the missionary enterprise, we feel it to be a solemn duty fairly to set the questions at issue before our readers, many of whom have too little leisure, and it may be, still less inclination, to wade through these waters of bitterness, “the miry places whereof, and the marshes whereof” will not soon “ be healed.”

Much as the existence of such a controversy is to be deplored, yet we do not regard it as an unmixed evil, for we believe that it will be

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eventually found instructive and useful, throwing a reflex light upon Christianity, as it was perverted in the first ages, and holding forth a beacon fire, to warn all future missionaries, sent forth to a semi-barbarous people, of the secret dangers which success in their enterprise will assuredly develope.

It would be a great error to imagine that this controversy is a vulgar squabble between two rival sects, that envy and annoy each other just in the degree of their approximation. No; whatever of unworthy feeling existed in its commencement, it is plain on the face of many of the papers we have now to consider, that it involves questions relating to the philosophy of missions, and of man, and that, if calmly thought out, will afford lessons of practical wisdom, that may be eminently useful in conducting future missions, amongst a simple and servile people.

Before we proceed, however, to these important matters, our readers must be put in possession of a brief statement of the rise and progress of this protracted discussion.

In March, 1841, a paragraph appeared in the Baptist Herald, a religious newspaper, published at Falmouth, Jamaica, as follows, viz:

“The following statement, compiled from the Missionary Reports of 1841, gives the number of members, children, &c., connected with the different Societies in this island, with the expenditure connected with each mission, on account of Jamaica.

"Wesleyan Missionary Society, 30 missionaries, 21 teachers. 22,884 members, 4,300 children; expenditure £8,986 Os. 11d.

“ London Missionary Society, 11 missionaries, 172 members; expenditure £6,476 10s. 9d.

“Church Missionary Society, 7 missionaries, 22 teachers, 271 members, 4,954 children ; expenditure £6,938 4s. 11d.

“Baptist Missionary Society, 19 missionaries, 71 teachers, 24,777 members, 15,007 children ; expenditure £6,870 3s. 11d.”

This quiet summary would not appear, to a casual observer, sufficient at once to light up a flame of controversy amongst the missionary churches in Jamaica, but it is obvious, from the documents before us, that for «

many years” a fire has been smouldering, which this light article was sufficient to fan into a blaze. Mr. Vine, one of the agents of the London Missionary Society, feeling that an invidious comparison was intended, replied to it without delay, in the Falmouth Post, a paper said not to be friendly to the cause of missions ; and in a tone for which the above paragraph alone could not supply an adequate occasion. Mr. Tinson, a Baptist missionary, published a reply, and Mr. Vine rejoined ; the newspapers containing this controversy found their way to London, private letters, pro et contra, followed, till at length the affairs of the Baptist missions in Jamaica became a topic of general conversation. To meet this state of things, the Committee of the Baptist Missions issued their printed circular, which called forth a reply from Mr. Barrett, an agent of the London Missionary Society, who was at that time in England : then followed the other publications, at the head of this article, which appeared, we believe, in the order we have assigned to them, till the second publication of the Baptist Committee was issued, which completed the cycle up to the present time.

As much misconception prevails relative to the parties who bring the very grave accusations we are about to recite, against the Baptist brethren, it is necessary to state, that although the controversy was commenced by an agent of the London Missionary Society, yet it is sustained by members of several denominations, whom we shall now enumerate. 1. Thirteen missionaries and catechists of the London Missionary Society. 2. Seventeen ministers and catechists connected with the Presbyterian bodies of Scotland. 3. Three American ministers, who have resided in Jamaica. 4. Three Baptist missionaries, who have been separated from their brethren, for giving their testimony against them, besides two or three clergymen of the Church of England : making together, nearly forty Christian ministers and catechists, belonging to five different connexions, who concur in the general accuracy of these representations. On the other side, are the twenty-seven Baptist missionaries, with the protest of their deacons and leaders, including, it is said, several hundred persons.

To show how completely missionaries, in no way connected with the London Missionary Society, have entered into the discussion, we beg first to lay before our readers a letter of the Jamaica Missionary Presbytery, addressed to the Association of the Baptist missionaries, in that island. It contains a frank and faithful declaration of their opinions on several practices, set out in successive counts of an indictment, which will open the whole case to the minds of our readers :

“Goshen, July 14th, 1841. "Dear Brethren,—We consider it a duty which we owe to God, as his servants in the work of the Gospel, to you, our fellow-labourers in the same field, and to the people of this country, in relation to their spiritual interests, to expostulate with you against various practices in your churches, which strike us as injurious to the interests of religion. Without any farther apology for introducing a subject which has pressed itself on our minds for years, we proceed to notice the different points in detail.

" First,—The leaders—They seem to us to be a body of men unauthorized by any scriptural authority-frequently irregular in their proceedings—responsible at best only to their respective ministers, sometimes to each other—in many cases selfappointed, assuming the office in consequence of bringing numbers of people to join the church-not known, as far as we are aware, in the churches of your body in Great Britain, and who are employed, disclaimed, or discharged, as may seem convenient. They stand between the ministers and the people, limiting their free and mutual intercourse as much as they can—in many important cases preventing it altogether, and in general, permitting it only through themselves as a medium, whereby ministers and people know very little of each other, except through the misrepresentations of

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their leaders. The individual exercise of their authority appears to us also highly objectionable, whereby they administer discipline in their own classes, and bring for. ward cases before the church, or keep them back, according to their discretion. They seem to have the people completely under their control, and unless the latter please them in all things, they are understood by the people to have the power of preventing them from being admitted to baptism, or of procuring their expulsion. means the people are their humble servants in many, and sometimes very sinful ways. It is not to be expected that individuals virtually possessed of so much authority, and at the same time so unfit to be entrusted with it, should always employ it in a proper manner. Although in some cases they may be vigilant, and faithful in reporting evils which occur in the church, yet in others abuses are passed over, and when ends of their own are to be served, cases of the grossest wickedness are carefully concealed.

“Secondly,—The keeping up of certain old and hurtful superstitions among the people, particularly the desire for dreams as an evidence of their religious state. In not a few instances, which have come under our notice, they are required by the leader, previous to his taking the people to the minister for baptism. This system, and there are few more injurious to the souls of the people, prevailed at one time in the island generally, especially where such men as Gibb, Clarke, and Lyle laboured ; and, notwithstanding the increase of light in the country, it still prevails to a great extent ; and there are very many in your churches whose dreams were first approved of by the leader, and then were recommended by him to the minister.

“ Thirdly,—The facility with which members are admitted into your churches_of the Christian character and attainments of whom it is impossible for you to have a proper knowledge.

Fourthly,—The small measure of intercourse between you and the people of your charge, and the fact that you confine your pastoral labours almost entirely to the public services of the Sabbath—to the exclusion of that family visitation and catechetical instruction which, among an ignorant and uneducated people, is absolutely necessary to the communication of the truth to their understandings.

“Fifthly,—The want of careful inquiry into the conduct both of your leaders and people, and the case with which reported evils are passed over in your churches-a circumstance which enables guilty individuals to conceal their corrupt and superstitious practices.

“Sixthly,—The superstitious importance which many attach to the rite of baptism. We are aware that you tell them that baptism will not save them; but, unless their minds are enlightened on the subject to which baptism relates, negative instruction is of very little use.

“Seventhly,– We deem it a great evil that you do not maintain the regular public services of religion in your established congregations on the Sabbath; that even your principal churches, with immense congregations, are frequently left without properly qualified persons to officiate, and that at your out-stations the leaders should be allowed to prevent the people, in various ways, from receiving instruction from any other quarter.

“ Eighthly,–We must also give our testimony against the practice which has long existed among you, of sending tickets by the leaders to persons who do not or cannot attend your ministry. We consider the sale of tickets, for it is such in the eyes of the people, a system of practical simony, and denoting as they do their standing in the church, as members or inquirers, the tickets are frequently made an object of superstitious veneration.

“Ninthly,-Another evil we would mention is the effect of your too favourable representations, in misleading the churches in Britain, in regard to the moral and religious condition of the inhabitants of this country. We appeal to yourselves, as to whether this, instead of being an act of friendship, is not one of the greatest evils that can be inflicted on thein, as it hinders the churches of Britain from going forward in the work of their evangelization.

"We have particularly of late felt it our imperative duty earnestly to warn our people against a worldly and covetous spirit. Many of your printed resolutions and proceedings however, have given encouragement to this spirit, and the style which you keep up is, in many cases, more in accordance with the manner of the rich and great men of this world, than the simplicity which becomes us as Christian ministers.

“ We trust these remarks will be taken in good part. It is because the subject has, in the course of our labours, repeatedly pressed itself upon our minds, by innumerable facts and incontestable evidence, that we thought of addressing you, and we hope that you will attribute our having done so to a desire to see the country placed, as far as possible, beyond the reach of ignorance or superstition, or anything approaching to spiritual tyranny. In so far as you are engaged in the work of God, and endeavouring to advance the cause of Christ, by scriptural means, we bid you God speed,' and wish you much comfort and success in your labours. * We remain, dear Brethren, yours very faithfully, “(Signed in the name of the Presbytery)

“PETER ANDERSON, Moderator,

“WILLIAM SCOTT, Clerk."* Although it will not be possible to enter upon each of the nine questions, contained in this straight-forward letter, yet the employment of leaders and of tickets, the hasty baptisms, and the financial proceedings of our Baptist brethren, deserve the special attention of our readers.

We do not sympathize in the objections of our Presbyterian brethren to the leaders, as a “body of men unauthorized by any scriptural authority,” but we agree with them that the usefulness of such agency greatly depends on the habits and characters of the men who are entrusted with such influence in the church. The former history and revolting occupations of the individuals in question, required the utmost vigilance on the part of the Christian ministers who employed them. “The origin of this system,” says Mr. W. Milne in a letter to Mr. Vine, “is easily discovered in the circumstances under which the Baptist Mission was commenced, and which debarred the missionary from personal intercourse with the people. The attempt to reach them, through others of their own number who had embraced the faith of the Gospel, was at once natural and scriptural, and had the men thus selected been, in the first place, carefully instructed, and subjected afterwards to watchful scrutiny and timely check in the exercise of their delegated authority, incalculable benefit might have reasonably been expected as the result. But when, on the contrary, ignorant and superstitious men were chosen to the office for other than moral qualifications, and the inherent danger was moreover increased, ad infinitum, by arming them with excessive power; and that too in situations far removed from the inspection of the missionary, I hold,

* United Secession Magazine, October, 1842, p. 535.

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