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may affect the prosperity and permanence of the ‘Dissenting Interest'. 'O what should not congregational societies be!' exclaims the Author of the Tract on the Congregational System.
• What should not every member of them be! Most certainly far different from what we are! When shall we become such ? Shall we ever cherish a spirit worthy of our principles ? Shall we ever become the men who may be accounted worthy to convert the world ?' p. 191.
If not, the work and the honour will be taken from us, and given to others. Changes are coming upon society, the precise nature of which no one can distinctly discern. The present season is at once a time of probationary discipline to the Church, and of preparation for the service or conflict which is fast approaching. The victory is secured to the Church of Christ; but who may fall, or what systems may be demolished in the contest, none can tell. We have pleaded, with a feeble voice, at this crisis, for a truce of God between the rival denominations of the religious world; and have willingly borne the penalty of all mediators,—that of being suspected by one party, and traduced by another. It would have been far more agreeable to us, to be allowed to prosecute our humble labours in the green and quiet field of literature, without being thus compelled to mingle in the dusty affray. We are not ambitious of the military glory of partizans, being well content with those pleasures that love the shade. We have been called upon, however, to speak out; and we have done so; not, we hope, in the tone of dictation, for we are deeply conscious that the topics to which our desultory remarks relate, demand a much more close and profound discussion. We assume no other weight of authority for our observations, than can be claimed by the opinions of an individual. We have descended from our critical woolsack, to plead on the common floor. And now we have delivered our conscience, and pray God to give to our readers a wise and understanding heart, to discern their duty and the signs of the times.
Art. II. The Eastern Origin of the Cellic Nations proved by a Com
parison of their Dialects with the Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, and Teutonic Languages. Forming a Supplement to Researches into the Physical History of Mankind. By James Cowles Prichard, M.D. F.R.S. &c. 8vo. pp. 194. Price 7s. Oxford. 1831.
THE work to which this volume is supplemental, is a highly 1 valuable and comprehensive digest of our knowledge respecting the physical varieties of the human species ; designed to vindicate and illustrate the fact of their derivation from a common parentage. The evidence collected in those volumes, is chiefly
of the name of Robert Hall, the greatest of modern pulpit orators, and whose writings will preserve his fame as long as the language is spoken. Andrew Fuller, the great theological reformer of his denomination, - John Foster, the most powerful essayist of the age, and the Serampore Missionaries, Carey and Marshman, whose labours have attracted the admiration of the learned throughout Europe,-belong to the same communion. Among the Independents, we shall take the freedom of naming, without a word of encomiastic comment, Drs. Pye Smith and E. Henderson ; Dr. Morrison, the Chinese scholar; the late William Greenfield ; Mr. Isaac Taylor, the translator of Herodotus ; Mr. Vaughan, the biographer of Wycliffe ; Mr. Greville Ewing; the late William Orme; William Ellis, the Author of Polynesian Researches; and our readers will be able greatly to extend the list *. These, however, are sufficient to shew that the Congregational Dissenters, though excluded by an illiberal policy from the colleges of the Establishment, have not ceased to produce theologians and philologists, orators and elegant scholars, who would adorn any communion; and that we need not go back to the records of biography for such names as Milton, Bunyan, and Defoe, Howe, Baxter, and Owen, or Henry, Watts, and Doddridge.
The Dissenters have a still higher claim to pre-eminence, in having taken the lead in the great work of sending the Gospel to the heathen. If they were not the earliest in the field, to the English Baptists, Dr. Southey himself assigns “the honour of • giving the first impulse to public feeling ;' while to the Independents is due the praise of having first, as a denomination, cordially embarked in the great enterprise, with a zeal, catholicism, and spirit of faith which have brought down the rich blessing of Heaven. To the missionary spirit thus remarkably developed, and not merely to the wonder-working 'voluntary principle', we must ascribe the formation of the Church Missionary Society, (of which it may be said, that it is in the Established Church, but not of it,) the Religious Tract Society, the British and Foreign Bible Society, and all the affiliated and kindred institutions.
The first charity-school ever founded in London, upon the plan of voluntary subscriptions and collections, was established by Protestant Dissenters, upon the liberal principle, that the children should be received into it' without distinction of parties.' This was in the latter end of the seventeenth century. Nor have they ever ceased to discover an enlightened zeal to promote the
* We know not whether the Independents may claim Mr. Douglas. The Author of the Natural History of Enthusiasm remains anonymous. Montgomery is a Moravian. Dr. A. Clarke, Mr. Watson, and Mr. Drew, are Wesleyans.
cause of general education. We need not go into the history of Sunday Schools, or into the Bell and Lancaster controversy. It is sufficiently notorious, that the Establishment was reluctant to follow the example set by the sectaries, in extending the blessing of education to the lower classes; that almost all the old foundations and charities established for this purpose, had been suffered to decay, or been perverted from their original design; and that national schools and Church Sunday schools have had for their chief object, to counteract the more disinterested exertions of the Dissenters.
And in enumerating the claims of the Congregationalists to the national gratitude, or rather the importance and value of their principles, we must not omit to mention their having been the first to discover, or to exhibit on a grand scale, the efficiency of free contribution, or what has been called the voluntary system; which is now supporting not only their own ministry and institu. tions, but those also in which all denominations unite, and is moreover being acted upon, to an increasing extent, within the Established Church. The sufficiency and exclusive authority of the holy Scriptures, the right of private judgement, and entire liberty of conscience, are the foundations of Protestantism, and cannot be claimed, therefore, as exclusively the principles of Dissenters. Yet, it has been their distinction, to be the depositaries of these conservative principles, and their main advocates, when seemingly forgotten or abjured by the Established clergy. And thus, notwithstanding all their sectarian divisions, their puritan discipline, or whatever else may be objected against them by the world, the English Dissenters have derived lustre from the great practical principles they hold in common, as the basis of their system ecclesiastical.
Nor is the honour inconsiderable, which is reflected back upon the Dissenters of this country, from the successful operation of the congregational platform in another hemisphere. That which is Dissent here, is, in New England, the religious polity of a nation; and it is in America, that the grand problem will be decided, as to the sufficiency of the voluntary system', apart, not indeed from the protection of the State, but from all State endowment.
Shall we give offence by saying, that the Dissenters have been exalted in public estimation, in consequence of their alliance with the clergy of the Establishment in the Bible Society ? That this has lessened the vulgar, ignorant, and malevolent prejudice against sectarian ministers, that extensively prevailed, is most certain; and the bigoted partizan of the Establishment may la. ment that the Bible Society has had an effect unfavourable to the intolerant pretensions of the high-church clergy. But, whatever advantage has been gained by Dissent, the benefit has been as mutual as the concession ; and the cause of Religion has gained more from it, than any party. Some partizans of Dissent have even attributed to this amicable alliance, a declension of that pure attachment to Dissenting principles, which requires to be kept up, in minds of a certain class, by a keen hatred, and, now and then, a little round abuse of the Church.
But, whatever may be thought of the social advantage thus gained by the Dissenters, it is not a little favourable to their moral influence at the present moment, that they approach the people as religious teachers, clear from the charge of tithe-holding, and from all the imputations justly or unjustly cast upon the endowed clergy. Dissenting ministers have heretofore had reason to complain of the prejudices fostered by the Establishment against all religious teachers but those appointed by the State; and they have been led to view the Established Church, on this account, as the main obstruction to the success of their labours ; forgetting, that, were there no State-church, the clergy of the aristocrasy would still, if actuated by an intolerant spirit, exert a similar, though, perhaps, not an equal influence over the minds of the lower classes in rural districts. But we are disposed to think, that the hatred gendered against the parochial clergy by the present tithe-system, and the strong tide of dissatisfaction which has set in against the Establishment, more than counterbalance any disadvantage which the Independent minister may labour under on account of the prejudice against Dissenters. The hatred of the infidel and the profligate, and such persecution as the law permits them to exercise, he must not wish to escape.
Such, then, is the honourable and advantageous position which the Congregational Dissenters now occupy; and such their national importance. From this elevation, they may despise the sneers and calumnies of their enemies. But let them not think to maintain their vantage-ground by employing themselves in • fortifying the frontier of their community', and jealously maintaining the barrier which separates them from other denominations. They have as yet only entered upon the work of instructing society; and the unreclaimed masses of the population reproach their feebleness or their supineness. The times are critical. It is not to be concealed, that the voluntary funds for supporting the Dissenting ministry have been seriously diminished by the impoverishment of the people, and that hundreds of pious and deserving ministers are struggling against the hardships of extreme poverty. The voluntary system is dependent, for its working, upon something else than its own inherent energy.
That energy depends upon the state of both the political and the moral atmosphere. And there are causes connected with the march of society, with the imperfections of the congregational system, and with other circumstances already adverted to, which