Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

Let the truth be told. Professional gentlemen will be the last to deny that there are tricksters and fraudulent pettifoggers, who are with them, but not of them, who would not hesitate to do a dishonest or scurvy thing, and, whose opportunities for villainy being so great, have accomplished an untold amount of evil; and by how much on the one hand these are enabled to do more harm in the superior advantages afforded them, by so much on the other are the upright enabled, prompted by proper motives, to promote the good. In the single example of peace-making the quieting of family disturbances, where else there had been feuds perhaps bitter and unrelenting, what has not beenwhat may not be accomplished by Christian lawyers ? Who can not call to mind one such instance, in which such an one has interposed, and poured oil over the troubled waters, and caused a great calm ?

Again: the lawyer's peculiar talents fit him for usefulness in the Christian Church. For the main advancement of the cause of Christianity in the earth, for its full progression and final success, there are some, many whose influence is comparatively inefficient.

Their introduction into the Church is a blessing to themselves, and may, in some instances, lead to the blessing of others; but their lives are passed in obscurity, their talents are not commanding, their influence is contracted. Not so with the Christian lawyer. If he has wisely selected his profession ; if he has not been thrust into it by injudicious and imprudent considerations; if, in short, he is adapted by natural gifts and ample studies for its successful prosecution, his introduction into the Christian Church will be a matter not merely of personal concern and importance to himself, but will prove to be of essential advantage to the body of which he becomes a member. His talents will fit him for the discharge of many of the offices, not strictly clerical ; and by his conversation and example he will win many more of like capacity with himself to the service of Christ. A body of such men, animated by a sincerely humble and devoted spirit, would wage no light warfare with the hosts of sin and even when segregated and separated from each other,

their information, their talents and their capacities would greatly promote the cause of Christianity. We have sometimes looked with no little admiration at a bar consisting of many of the wise, the eloquent, the talented and the energetic, in an inland city, and pictured in our imagination the good these might accomplish, the harvest of true fame they might reap, if they were all sincerely pious. Alas! how few have been proud to call themselves Christians how many of the few have been self-deceived; or have perhaps wittingly and willingly worn the Christian profession for the purpose of deceiving others. In continuation of this topic, it may not be amiss to remark that the ministry looks for some of its recruits from the bar. We are not of those who imagine it to be the duty of every Christian lawyer to undertake the office of preaching the Gospel. True; the gifts and the acquirements which fit him for the successful prosecution of his profession, will most probably adapt him to the pulpit. But this is not universally true; and if it were so, yet other traits of character and capacities than the gift of merely speaking from the pulpit are demanded in the Gospel preacher and pastor; and the lawyer may be a Christian without having these. Besides, the vocation of the law demands as high Christian principle, and the exercise of the purest Christian character; and for the sake of the rest, it would be unwise and imprudent to withdraw from the bar the entire Christian element. Some professing Christianity ought to remain, that the influence of their example upon those in the same calling may be the more felt; as well as for the sake of those who shall come after the young men in the profession, whose example and character are to be determined largely by the prevailing tone of character among their elder professional brethren. Yet, notwithstanding the truth and justness of these remarks, the pulpit looks to the bar for recruits ; and many of the most dist nguished and useful pulpit orators have risen from that profession. Why may there not be among the twenty thousand practitioners of the law in the Union, one-twentieth of them, or even a larger proportion, who shall devote their time, their talents and their fortunes exclusively to the service of Christ, in the proclamation of the Gospel ?

But this is not all, nor indeed the chief service which Christianity demands of the legal profession. She wishes to fill up her ranks of laymen with intelligent, thinking, laborious men; she wishes counsellors in the churches, in the prayer-meetings, in her more public congregations. She wishes to point to “honorable counsellors," not a few; her adherents and supporters, in the courts and in the offices ; men of uprightness and integrity; men of moral weight and justness of views; men of thought and men of purpose. She wishes that examples of holy living may be given; and that the ministers of justice, strictly so called, may become themselves the lovers of just dealing and just doing. She wishes that in every vocation of life, in every employment and pursuit, her votaries may be found; and especially desires that the guardians of the law, the defenders of human rights and the avengers of human wrong, shall be controlled and swayed by her sweet and chastening influences-shall illustrate in their lives and example, and teach by their language, that there is a law higher than human authority, of sacred and universal obligation, and that they honor themselves and honor humanity by bowing to its commands.

It will appear from what we have said, that we desire that barristers should do something more than make a merely external profession of religion. We would have the Christian barrister and counsellor exemplify, in his life and by his words, the truth and the power of Christianity. His inner life would then disclose a high state of spiritual earnestness and sincerity. While engaged in the active pursuit of his profession, in vindicating by his eloquence and wisdom the right, and holding up to just censure the wrong, he would find it not impossible for him to cherish a sacred nearness to Jehovah, and to preserve that intimate communion with Christ, which are the distinguishing marks of the active Christian. Such a lawyer might write upon his law-books and legal opinions—upon his legal conduct and legal life, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and in every act and word, in every public effort at the bar, in every opinion given at chambers, in dissuasion from strife, in exhortation to

justice and charity, would utter in no uncertain language, the sentiments, and exhibit the life of the Christian. Some Christian lawyer once said that he never undertook a cause for the success of which he could not pray, and he had never lost a cause for which he had prayed.” Could the principle underlying this action be carried into universal practice, there would be no need for defences of the bar; the life of the Christian barrister would be its best exposition and ablest defence; and the slanders so often recklessly and wantonly uttered against this honorable and useful calling would rebound to the damage of the assailant.

ARTICLE VI.-HANSERD KNOLLYS IN AMERICA.

The name of HANSERD KNOLLYS is eminent among the English Baptists of the seventeenth century. Of late years it has been widely spread, in connection with the valuable issues of the Hanserd Knollys' Society of London, a Society which was organized in 1844, for the purpose of preparing and publishing by subscription, accurate editions of the earliest Baptist Tracts on Liberty of Conscience, in which they preceded all others,) and other rare Baptist books of that period, with suitable notes and introductions. The Society thus nobly employed in bringing before the public, treasures, rarer and more precious than the purest pearls of the ocean, deemed itself honored by the selection of his name.

The life of Hanserd Knollys embraced nearly a century, from 1598 to 1691; and that century is the most interesting and momentous in English annals. In most of the religious movements of that remarkable age, his biography is interwoven. His influence, like that of his great cotemporary, ROGER WILLIAMS, was felt both in England and America, and would furnish some striking parallels as well as contrasts, were this the time to trace them. · One point of difference, alone, can be noticed here, namely, that while the chief obscurity in the biography of Williams rests on his

residence in England, the chief obscurity in that of Knollys rests on the years of his residence in America. The object of this paper is to throw light upon this dark portion of his history.

To do this effectually, some brief preliminary statements may be necessary. It is important to know what he was before he came to this country; and happily Mr. Crosby, in bis History of the English Baptists, has preserved all the necessary facts.* Mr. Knollys was born in Chalkwell, Lincolnshire, in 1598. His parents were pious, and, as Crosby says, " took good care to have him trained up in good literature, and instructed betimes in the principles of religion.” While at the University of Cambridge, he was converted, and his Christian character became of the highest order. "Happy would it be for this nation,” says Crosby, after relating particulars, “ if our universities and private academies were filled with such students." After his graduation at Cambridge, Mr. Knollys was chosen Master of the Free Grammar School at Gainsborough. Here he continued till June, 1629, when he entered the ministry as a clergyman of the Church of England. He was ordained by the Bishop of Peterborough; and the Bishop of Lincoln soon after gave him the living at Humberstone. His diligence here was greater than his success. He preached three or four times every Sabbath, alternately at Humberstone and Hotton, besides his labors at other seasons, among the poor as well as the rich. About 1632, he began to doubt the lawfulness of conformity to the State Church, and resigned his living for conscience sake; but through the connivance of the Bishop, continued to preach some years longer as a Puritan, in the parish church, without surplice or prayer-book. In 1636 he was arrested at Boston, in his native county of Lincolnshire, by a warrant from the High Commission Court; but his keeper, being conscience-stricken, allowed him to escape, and he went up to London to find a passage to America. There, with his wife and only child, he was detained so long, that when he embarked, as he tells us himself, he had “but just six brass farthings left, and no silver or gold.”

[blocks in formation]
« EdellinenJatka »