« PreviousContinue »
divinity, &c., so as to satisfy the body of their competency. They are elected by the people; two-thirds of numhers and stipend being necessary to render the election valid. After ordination, no minister can be removed but by authority of synod or presbytery, unless he chooses to resign. The presbytery has a constant inspection over each minister and his flock. Ministers receive a stipend from the people, and enjoy, besides, a Regium Donum, or bounty from the crown, granted at their ordination, and not to be withdrawn during their ministry. A particular R. D. is granted for each congregation, the classes being £100, £75 and £50 per annum.
Thus you will perceive that the Presbyterians of Ireland, under the care of the General Synod of Ulster, are a distinct body, having a government, &c., quite different from any other body that bears the form of a church. Of course, as I conceive, they are entitled to distinct mention in your valuable work.
I am, your obedient servant,
A. G. MALCOM, D. D.
Stoke Newington, November 8, 1822. AS S the little piece of mine which you have inserted in your last Repository [p. 636] has, it seems, been printed in America, (how it got there I know not,) I have, perhaps, no right to complain that it was introduced without my knowledge; but, as it was very inaccurately given, I beg the favour of you to insert in your next the copy I now send.
A. L. BARBAULD.
A THOUGHT ON DEATH.
When scarce is seiz'd some valu'd prize,
How awful then it is to die!
When, one by one, those ties are torn, And friend from friend is snatched forlorn,
And man is left alone to mourn,
Ah! then, how easy 'tis to die!
London, Nov. 7, 1822.
I HAVE read with pleasure the let
ter addressed to you in the last number of your valuable Repository, (p. 614,) and very appropriately subscribed COADJUTOR. The plan which he proposes of establishing associa tions among those that are denominated Presbyterians in South Britain, has often occurred to my mind; and I recollect that when meetings of this kind were held on public occasions,
with a view to some circumstances pertaining to the state of our country, they were well attended and produced many beneficial effects. The renewal of them on a more general plan would unquestionably have a tendency to promote that union amongst us which would serve to strengthen our cause, and to augment the number of those who are zealous for its subsistence
and prosperity, but who have no peculiar and discriminating mode of testifying their attachment to it. ought to profit by the example that is set before us by our brethren, for or Congregationalists and Baptists; so we will call them, the Independents and they would, without doubt, afford us some hints, deduced from their long experience, which would aid us in forming and accomplishing a plan similar to that which they, much to their honour and advantage, have long supported. Whilst I am referring to their laudable practice, it occurs to me that we ought to imitate them in one respect, and probably in many others, if we were made acquainted with them. The ministers should interest the laity in the establishment and support of such a plan; and whilst the former performed the religious services assigned them by every exertion in their power, the latter, by their concurrence, would animate their assiduity and zeal. But how we should be able to
blend social intercourse with a reli gious service, without encroaching on the time which our lay friends find it necessary to appropriate to their secular concerns, is a question that ought to be previously and cautiously considered. An evening lecture would interfere with that "economical and friendly dinner" which Coadjutor proposes. Such a repast ought not to be omitted, as it would serve, when properly conducted, to aid an intercourse that would be no less profitable than pleasing. Many prejudices would be removed; and many errors would be corrected, that tend to alienate and separate us from one another for want of free, friendly and confidential intercourse. Perhaps if the object proposed were taken into serious consideration, it might be contrived to have the religious service at an early hour in the morning, or about half an hour after ten o'clock, and that it might be thus concluded about twelve o'clock, which would allow our lay friends sufficient time to be employed in their business; and then the dinner might be fixed at four o'clock, and the society dissolved at an carly hour in the evening, so that it might not be later than eight or nine o'clock. But this is a subject of regulation that would naturally engage attention, if the plan were adopted. Associations of this kind in the country are less liable to this objection than those that are formed in or near the city of London, the mart of general commerce. However, there are some other impediments to the execution of this plan which are not so easily removed. In the conduct of the religious service, controversial subjects should, as much as possible, be avoided. But would not there be some difficulty in settling the mode of performing the devotional part? In former years extemporary prayer was almost universal among Dissenters of every description. But we have now printed liturgies and premeditated written prayers, which are read by the minister. Which of these modes should be selected would become a question for deliberation. An intermixture in the same place, or even in different places, would occasion confusion. Some would be gratified and others would be disgusted; and disputes about the
best mode to be adopted would be injurious to the harmony of the Societies. There are also some other matters of prudential consideration which ought to be settled before a course of public lectures, designed for comprehending the whole body of Presbyterians, could be established. ject in my opinion is highly desirable, and calculated to accomplish the most important and useful purposes. The scheme so laudably recommended in the letter before me, rouses my debilitated powers, and deludes me with the notion that I might still be of some service in co-operating with persons of more vigorous minds and fewer engageAt an ments of a public nature. earlier period of life, and with greater leisure than I could ever command, I should have been happy in taking an active part; but Providence has now reserved for me only the pleasure of witnessing the successful exertions of others; and I hope no time will be lost in maturing the proposed plan, lest I should not enjoy this satisfaction.
Hackney, November 7, 1822. REALLY did not imagine that any arguments contained in my letter upon the duties of jurymen, could have been misconstrued by “A Christian Liberal" [p. 599] into "special pleading, a recommendation of evasive verdicts against law and evidence, and a license inconsistent with the solemn obligation of an oath;" but instead of quarrelling with these animadversions, I will endeavour to explain the object I really had in view, and in so doing I am not without hope of convincing your correspondent that, with a right understanding of the Christian principles which ought to actuate a Christian jury, he would not have so misunderstood me.
It will appear to him, I think, upen reconsideration, that he has imputed to the law that which is chiefly attri butable to the neglect or incompetency of juries: he will discover that the law under which a publisher is charged with disseminating obnoxious opini ons, has provided for the protection of every honest man, by requiring, as a duty from the jury, an investigation
of his motives. If sufficient evidence should be adduced to satisfy them of a malicious intention in a defendant, his conviction must follow of course; but I would wish to think more respectfully of your correspondent, although unknown, than to suppose him capable of adopting or of desiring that juries should adopt the vulgar prejudice against unbelievers which would sink them in the scale of morals and motives below the average of the community, than which prejudice nothing can be more illiberal and unfounded. All that my humble endeavours aimed to inculcate was, that juries should feel fully convinced that the malice, which an indictment or information uniformly sets forth, and which the law consequently has prescribed as necessary to constitute crime, be fully made out against a defendant before they condemn him. It is not the fact of publication only which a jury has to try.
If, then, it be admitted by "A Christian Liberal" that a man of opposite opinions to his own can, by possibility, he zealously engaged in propagating his sentiments from pure motives, he will also admit that it is the indispensable duty of a Christian jury to be satisfied upon sufficient evidence of the malicious intentions of the individual whose conduct they have to try before they decide against him. It is not because the charge is designated by the epithet of blasphemy that a Christian jury can dispense with Christian charity, and take for granted, without evidence to prove it, that the accused has been actuated by all the malignity which his prosecutors have been pleased to crowd into the information; but it is in this particular, unfortunately, that their own principles of Christian charity, and the common principles of justice and liberality have been too often misconceived and misapplied. It is of this sort of subserviency in juries, to the intolerant projects of bigotry, that I took occasion to complain, and which can only be attributed to the insidious appeals of wily lawyers to their prejudices that convenient, mysterious, undefinable term blasphemy, appears to have served as the watch-word to persecution, and to have operated as a diabolical excitement to cruelty in all ages and in defence of all religions,
although of late the names of blasphemer and infidel are becoming very inoffensive through frequent use; but to return to the argument. If to walk along Cheapside were an indictable offence, and the fact be proved against an individual, the jury are bound to pronounce that the charge is founded in truth; but if the fact of walking must necessarily be accompanied by the charge of some bad purpose to constitute the legal offence, the proof of the malicious object would be at least as necessary to his conviction by a jury as the fact of walking itself, because it is an essential part of the criminal charge, and without proof of the wicked purpose it is impossible that the legal offence can be substantiated. Again, if a Unitarian were indicted at common law for denying the doctrine of the Trinity, and that simple denial constituted the legal offence, a jury would have no alternative upon proof of the fact; but if, according to the invariable form and substance of indictments for blasphemy, he is charged with wickedly and maliciously impugning that doctrine, the jury (at least if they should consist of Unitarians) would not be unlikely to look sharply after the proofs of malice before they consented to his condemnation and punishment.
Now this is the principle I have advocated, and which the Christian Liberal calls special pleading. The Judge would, in all probability, in such a case, direct that the malice is to be inferred from the blasphemous nature of the denial, and assert that he is bound to tell them that the publication is a blasphemous and libellous attack upon the established religion, which is the law of the land, &c. &c.; and perhaps a majority of juries could scarcely be expected to withstand a solemn injunction from the bench, to reflect upon the shocking tendency of blasphemous opinions, the mysterious obligation of an oath, and the necessity of arresting the progress of infidelity.
Under the impressions thus produced upon the superstitious, all deficiences of proof, as to motives and object, and consequently to the real guilt of the party accused, are trifles passed by as unworthy a thought in comparison. It cannot have escaped
the notice of your correspondent that juries, who would have done justice had they known how, have occasionally come into Court with a verdict of guilty of publishing but not with a malicious intent," and thus, by a dose of legal sophistry, have disgraced themselves still further by the absurdity, to say the least, of convicting the individual of the crime of which they had the moment before declared him innocent. I would not, however, take upon me to say, that the duties of juries may not be reduced, at no distant period, and placed upon the narrow footing that the Christian Liberal, and the juries he exculpates, seem to consider them at present. By the recent expunging of the word falsely from these informations, juries are already saved the trouble of examining into that inconvenient question of the truth of a libel, and at the same time the defendant is saved the trouble of attempting his justification upon so frivolous a pretext as the truth of his opinions; and it may not be too much to anticipate a further omission of the word malice, or as much more of the substantial wording as may be requisite to clear the road, and make it plain and easy for Christian Liberals to travel; while, however, that word malice continues to stand a part of an indictment for libel, it will afford a more substantial protection to honest libellers of all classes, who have honest, intelligent juries to try them; and although the Christian Liberal has undertaken to stigmatize acquittals upon that indispensable test as a violation of the juror's oath, I shall ever contend that to convict a defendant of guilt, without abundant proofs of the malicious intent, must subject a jury most justly to that imputation.
I am not at all disposed to acquiesce in the propriety of the course recommended by Mr. Rutt, and eulogized by A Christian Liberal, because, with much deference and respect for Mr. Rutt's judgment, I really do not see the necessity for evading an important duty. It would appear to me a gross dereliction of duty on the part of an intelligent juryman, to abandon a defendant, whom he considered unjustly prosecuted, to the mercy of, perhaps, a prejudiced, ignorant jury, who might rejoice in the opportunity of crushing a blasphemer. The protests of jury
men against intolerant prosecutions or unreasonable laws, might indeed prove useful in the cause of religious and civil liberty, and I differ with your correspondent on that point only as to time and circumstance; he, it seems, would first state his objections to the prosecution, and then leave a defendant to his fate. My protest, on the contrary, should by no means supersede an act of justice to the ac
Free Press and Unitarianism in India.
N a former Number (P. 584) we
gave, under this title, an extract from the Morning Chronicle, with a few reflections of our own. After that Number was printed off, there appeared a letter in the same newspaper, (of September 30,) signed "Joseph Ivimey," purporting to be a correction of some error in the paragraph forming the extract. Mr. Ivimey is the minister of the Baptist congregation in Eagle Street, London, and is connected with the management of the Baptist Missionary Society. In answer to his letter, another was inserted in the Chronicle of October 3, signed "Robert Aspland." To this appeared a reply from Mr. Ivimey in the paper of October 11, and the correspondence was closed by a rejoinder from Mr. Aspland, which appeared October 15. It seems desirable to several of our correspondents, as we confess it does to us, that these letters should be registered in our work; for Indian Unitarianism will, if we do not greatly err, form a prominent feature in some future volumes of the Monthly Repository: we insert them verbatim, and without note or comment."
I. Mr. Ivimey's Letter, with the Explanation of the Editor of the Morning Chronicle.
"PROGRESS OF KNOWLEDge in INDIA.
"To the Editor of the Morning Chronicle.
"The paragraph in your paper of this day, which describes some of the benefits resulting to British India from the labours of Missionaries sent thi ther from England; and the establish
ment of a free press under the protection of the present enlightened Governor-General, will, I doubt not, be read with much gratification by every lover of his species and his country; as there is every reason to conclude, if nothing arise to interrupt the operation of measures now in progress, that the vast Eastern Continent will ultimately possess the blessings of the British Constitution and the knowledge of the gospel of Christ.
"There is one part of the statement, however, which will, perhaps, convey erroneous sentiments to the mind of the reader ;-it is that which relates to Mr. Adam, formerly one of the Missionaries of the Baptist Missionary Society. That he is become a Socinian, or, as your correspondent states it, a Unitarian, is a fact; whether he was awakened by the arguments of the Hindoo Reformer, Ram Mohun Roy, who is still a Pagan, is not for me to deny, though it is possible he may have learned the sentiments from those who call themselves Unitarians in this country.
"The parts of this statement which I object to are the inuendoes conveyed, by 'this conversion having given umbrage in a certain quarter? and that the Attorney-General having been applied to to interpose the shield of some antiquated statute, to protect spiritual intolerance, assured the that these days were passed.' It is not possible for me to guess what is intended by the certain quarter,' &c. &c.; but being well acquainted with all the transactions of the Baptist Missionary Society, by which Mr. Adam was educated and sent to India, I can pledge myself that no step of the kind has ever been proposed by any member of that Society. The Committee of that Institution are too
well acquainted with the right of private judgment, and the advantages of unfettered discussion,' ever to dream of applying to the Attorney-General to interpose the shield of antiquated penal statutes to protect the principles they profess, or the cause they support. They lament the aberrations and errors of Mr. Adam, and have thought it right to dismiss him as a Missionary, but they have no doubt that even this painful event will turn out rather for the furtherance of the gospel,' as they can safely leave the
matters in dispute between the Christians and Pagan Unitarians in British India, to be decided by an appeal to the inspired volume, which is translated and published in most of the languages and dialects of British India.
"I shall feel obliged if you will give this statement an early insertion; and if you will mention the person or persons who applied to the AttorneyGeneral to get Mr. Adam sent home from India as a Socinian, you will further oblige,
"Sir, yours, respectfully,
"20, Harpur Street,
"We are sorry that we should have left any room for a conclusion unfavourable to the Baptist Missionary Society, in the paragraph to which our correspondent alludes. Instead of Spiritual intolerance,' the passage was first Episcopal intolerance,' but as the term Episcopal might seem to apply not to the conduct of an individual Bishop, but to the Episcopalian Church in general, which it would have been uncharitable to implicate in this act, we were induced to substitute the former epithet. This explanation will, it is hoped, prove satisfactory to our correspondent.-EDITOR."
II. Mr. Aspland's Letter in Reply to Mr. Ivimey.
"RAM MOHUN ROY AND THE CALCUTTA UNITARIANS.
"To the Editor of the Morning