Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

While we have conceded that the public documents of the Church Missionary Society on this painful subject, exhibit a temper in every

Lutheran ministers, Messrs. Sperrhacken and Schulze, who were going to Africa in the servire of the Church Missionary Society, in the following terms:* You, my Reverend Friends in the Sacred Ministry, are going out in the direct character of Missionaries.

• Watch ye then in all things; do the work of evangelists : make full proof of your ministry.' Study deeply the Holy Scriptures. Let your doctrine show "uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity.' When you have opportunities of instructing the heathen, stand on the plain broad footing of undubted truth. Forget the unhappy controversies which have divided the church at home. Let your minds be daily nourished with the pure and wholesome docinne of Scripture, as it flows nalive and transparent from the comb, and not as it is sullied und adulterated by human systems, on whatever side they may incline. Let the cross of Christ in all the amplitude of that astonishing subject be your theme. Descend not to uncertuin topics. Do not uulminister to your inexperienced giock doubtful disputatims, nustrums, obscurities, which amaze the mind without affecting the heart, which disturb and bewilder, but seldom convince, which may roise up a partizun, but which cannot form a truly contrite and holy disciple of Jesus.

Twenty years had scarcely transpired, when this liberal and affectionate preacher is found the Lord of the Bishop's Palace at Calcutta, delivering a charge, ex cathedra, to his clergy in that metropolis. In that document, and in a second delivered at Madras, and published with it, there is much, very much, to gratify and instruct the reader, and to remind him of the best periods of Dr. Wilson's public ministry. But as to church affairs, his tone has changed with his position, and the Indian Bishop is resolved to do what the German Presbyters were charged to avoid. Let the reader judge-"What our church does is to give a sound confession of doctrine, an evangelical liturgy and offices, legitimate authority, the unbroken succession, and right ordination of ministers, wise constitutions, cunons, and formularies, together with books of sermons and homilies, embodying the preaching she would wish to encourage.” p. 36 “With respect to discipline, I would entreat you to observe, with conscientious and minute accuracy, the directions of the Rubric and Canons. All the particular rules I could frame, would only be the development of these our ecclesiastical statutes, and would be binding, in fact, no further than as they were just expositions of them. The very slight variations from the usages of England which the difference of climate, &c. demand, are so few, that I would not allvert to them, except to say, that not one of these varieties is, properly speaking, legal, and no one can be passed over by me without censure, except my honoured predecessors or myself have been distinctly consulted, &c.” p. 41. “ Need I add, that none are to be admitted into your pulpits but duly ordained clergymen; and none for more than an occasional service, without a license from myself.” p. 41. beg those who conduct the business of Missionary institutions, to let the spirit of an Episcopul discipline at once pervade all their measures. ihem (i. e. the native Christians,) ihe meaning and excellency of our Liturgy, Articles, our offices of religion, our fixed standards of doctrine, discipline, and administration of the sacraments; and the beautiful gradations of internal polity in our ecclesiastical government. I dread innovations, I dread theories in religion. The steady, holy course pursued by our Reformed Church, now for three centuries, is far safer than all the dreams of a spiritual democracy. A more correct discipline will follow the increase of our episcopal missionaries, and will facilitate what I recommend. Native priests will be ordained by the Bishop only. The recourse to Lutheran clergymen will probably be no longer Decessary. Much, very much, do we owe to that sister church; but I speak now of similarity of christiun riles, and the preservation of peace in the same in ission " p. 86. Bishop Wilson's views upon these subjects are widely different from those

" Let me

p. 56

6. Teach

way commendable, yet we well know that influential members of that body did not hesitate, in private, to express themselves towards

proclaimed from the pulpit of Lambeth Palace by the Rev. Josiuh Pratt, when he preached at the consecration of Bishop Corrie, in 1835.

The whole passage is too long for citation here, but a few detached sentences, retaining the sense, will be sufficient. “It was to be expected that the application of the English episcopacy to a country so differently circumstanced as India is from Britain, would require the grant of large discretion to the Bishop." “ It was found by the labourers whom she sent forth, that her discipline, however admirably suited to the settled church of a christian country, was not only destitute of provisions conducive to the exhibition of her influence, but even presented obstacles to her enlargement. Every step, properly missionary, was, in India, to be adventured upon by transgressing the strict boundaries of her discipline. Great, indeed, were the difficulties to which, on that ground, the first Bishop of Calcutta was exposed. He felt that the attempt (to evangelize the heathen) could not be carried on to any extent with rigid adherence to the Church's discipline.”—pp 20, 21.

There is a slight discrepancy between the testimony at Lambeth and at Calcutta; but then the venerable Josiah Pratt is not yet a Bishop.

When Bishop Wilson came to speak of Mr. Rhenius's conduct, he thus expressed himself:

“ Call to mind, also, the disappointment in these Southern Missions, both in the incorporated and Church Missionary Societies. The higher the talents, the more eminent ihe success; the wider the former influence, the more prominent the station of any such, the more fatal the subsequent fall It is not necessary to throw the slightest shade on their previous sincerity, piety, numerous converts, or qualifications as missionaries. But this I say, as Bishop of this immense diocese, God grant the subdivision of it may soon take effect ! that a Missionary coming out in a Church Society, and with the bonds of that Society upon him, (what bonds ?) ought, in honour, first to have resigned his connection, and waited till his place was supplied, before he published to the world pamphlets in direct contradiction to the Church, from whose funds he was supplied, and to whose general rules of order, though a Lutheran, he was subject. It is with grief I speak. The extraordinary weakness, as it appears to me, of the arguments, I pass over. The total ignorance of the real state of the question I pass over. The vain repetition of objections, a thousand times answered, I pass over. The garbled quotations of all kinds I pass over. In a foreigner, and a minister of another church, mistakes on such topics may be accounted for. All these things are matters of opinion. Every man has, abstractedly, the fullest right to think and publish as he pleases. But the infatuation which could lead an eminent, and most able and successful Missionary to attempt throwing the whole of the South of India, with its twenty thousand new Christians, into confusion, by a public attack on the Church, in which he was acting, speaks for itself. There is such a thing, at least, as common honesty.

p 104, 105. Not content with this, the Bishop refers to the subject again in his dedication 10 the clergy.

“I discovered a system at work in the extreme south, where I supposed the Miss onaries of the Church Missionary Society, though the senior was a Lutheran, were continuing to follow our general doctrine and discipline, in direct opposition to our Protestant Episcopal Church, by the members of which they were sent out, a system so ruinous in my judgment, to the holiness and peace of the new converts, as to threaten the subversion amongst them of Christianity itself.” Such are some of the effects of episcopal dignity upon a devout and estimable christian minister. Surely when the thought of a mitre for a moment fascinates any of our evangelical brethren in the Church, they will do well to pray, “ Lead us not into temptation !" It is due to Bishop Wilson, however, to add, that he is Mr. R. in no unmeasured terms of censure and reproach. The spirit in which the preceding resolution was enforced by the Corresponding Committee at Madras, and their clerical agents, will further illustrate the strong feeling of resentment which Mr. Rhenius's bonest criticisms upon the episcopal church had called forth. On the arrival of the resolution at Madras, in May 1835, the Rev. J. Tucker, their Secretary, proceeded to Palamcottah, and claimed all the property and the people in the name of the Church Missionary Society. Mr. Rhenius perceiving that a disgraceful collision would occur if he continued on the spot, resolved, for the sake of peace, to leave the province. On the eve of his departure, he addressed the following farewell letter to the Church Missionary Society, which will best explain his views and feelings at this painful period of his history.

To the Rev. Mr. Jowetl, Secretary of the Church Missionary Society. “REV. AND DEAR BROTHER,- I cannot separate from the Church Missionary Society in accordance with your resolution of the 15th February last, after a connection of twenty-one years, without giving you a farewell letter, expressive of the sentiments and feelings with which I do separate.

"] need not assure you, that the separation from the Society, and especially from my beloved flock in Tinnevelly, which I and my fellow labourers were the honoured instruments in raising and nourishing these fifteen years, has caused me much pain and grief, and that it was only divine grace which enabled me to pass through it with any degree of composure and strength. That pain and grief are only exceeded by those which I feel, when I reflect that your Committee, who must be well aware of the tender connection between me and Tinnevelly, have been the cause of rending this connection asunder. Indeed, I cannot but charge you with cruel injustice towards me, and the people from whom you have separated me.

" Reflect, dear Brethren, what you have been doing. In your instructions to Missionaries, you hope and pray that the Lord may give them many souls for their bire. If then the Lord has given me souls in Tinnevelly for my hire, you have come and robbed me of my hire ! And why? because I published a pamphlet pointing out various particulars in the discipline and formularies of the

should

strangely inconsistent with himself, and that in these same charges there are passages that betray another mind, which remind us of his earlier, and he must forgive us for saying his better days. Who could believe, without proof, that at the close of the second charge, after all his wrath against poor Rhenius, and all his zeal for “our beautiful platform of Church Government," that the Bishop would say, “ We have no jealousies. We have no secular objects. We wish to pull down no other christian disciplines, in order to rise upon the ruins. Our episcopal polity is not that which we propagate. It is the gospel, it is the good news, it is Christ the hope of glory,' the polity following merely as the handmaid upon the steps of her divine Saviour. I am jealous over myself when I am called io speak so much of external order and discipline. I fear lest I should seem to over value them. My earnest desire, Brethren is, that you should exalt Christ, preach Christ, magnify the grace of Christ, follow Christ, bear the cross of Christ, live and die for and with Christ;' and he meekly closes the whole with “ So will our beloved Protestant Episcopal Church take her share, she asks no more, in the work of the conversion of the mightiest heathen empire ever conceded to a christian sceptre.” pp. 107 and 109.

“ Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth."

Church of England, which, as it appears to me, need to be corrected-a pamphlet written upon the express request of a clergyman of that Church, and at that time a member of your Commiitee at Madras; and again, not so much because of the nature of its contents, but merely because I published it!! Thus then you have separated me from my flock, because I was not a dissembler, but a straight forward minister of the gospel, endeavouring to purify a portion of Christ's Church from errors which confessedly have been retained in it from Popery—an endeavour which you must allow to be the duty of every minister of Christ. And am I alone in this good work ? whilst many of your Evangelical Clergy are sighing and groaning under the burthen which the Rubrics and Canons of the Church are laying upon their conscience. Are there not many of them, even at this time, standing forth and boldly pointing out the errors and abuses of the Church? No bishop, I understand, would dare to do such a thing. But you have outstripped even ihe bishop in zeal for forms of the Church, and discontinued from your body one, who, during a period of twenty-one years, while in connection with you, endeavoured faithfully to serve the Lord Christ, who was in no way bound to the forms of the Church of England, and who was therefore the more entitled to speak out freely the convictions of his mind, merely because he exposed what he considered to be errors still existing in that Church. I entreat you again to reflect on this step, and see whether the Antichristian Spirit of Popery is not at the bottom of it!

“Were this not the case, you as a Society, professing to have only the glory of God in the establishment of Christ's kingdom at heart, could not have acted in this way. How much soever the truth told might have pained you, yet knowing that, notwithstanding my difference from the Church of England forms, Christ's kingdom was enlarged, and the glory of God was promoted by my ministrations in Tinnevelly through the gracious operations of the Holy Spirit-you might have suffered the work of God in Tinnevelly on account of it. That there was such a glorious work of God in that mission you yourselves have all along acknowledged, you have rejoiced with us therein, you have prais God for it even whilst aware that the Church forms were but partially observed. Yea, your Secretary, the Rev. Mr. Tucker, only three or four weeks before he became the hardhearted executioner of your decree,* paid us a visit in Palamcottah, and not only rejoiced in all that he saw and heard, but upon his return to Madras could publish in the Missionary Record for May last his introduction to our Report, * that he had no hesitation in saying, that as far as he was able to judge, the particulars published in our Report for 1834) do not convey to the mind of the reader an adequate idea of the prosperous state of this mission, and the reality of the work which God is working in this district, and at the end calls it an extensive and well ordered mission." And yet after three or four weeks he can come flying as it were on wings to execute your decree of spiritual robbery, and dis

* “I do not use this expression hardhearted executioner' thoughtlessly, for he himself stated to me, that when in 1834, he as the Secretary of the Madras Committee, sent them dispatches on the subject to the Home Committee, he had charged a relation of his in England, in case the Home Committee should not dissolve my connection with the Society, to tender at once his resignation to the Committee. Mr. Tucker's mind therefore was fully made up on the subject. About six months after he paid his first visit to Palamcottah, be published our report of the Tinnevelly Mission, with a most favourable introduction to it, as above. He was therefore highly delighted with the state of the mission; yet three or four weeks afterwards the Home Committee's letter arrives, and he comes to Palamcottah to carry it into effect, with a zeal and promptitude which would have done honour to a better cause, professing all this time his regret and sorrow at the object of his mission. Taking all these proceedings together, I cannot but call him a hardhearted executioner; and I only mention the foregoing facts in order to sbow how dreadful the effect of the systems of the Church of England is upon her most amiable sons."

regarding the cries and requests of the people, and the * apology which I offered
to the Society for the publishing of the Review, snap asunder ties which have
been by the blessing of the Lord between pastor and people-ties which are at
least as strong as those which üpite father and children together—And why?
Simply because I had pointed out what I considered to be the existing errors of
the Church of England. Is not this the Spirit of Antichrist? The Spirit of
Rome itself would have done it only a little more cruelly.

“ You might indeed have dissolved my connection with you if it was disho-
nourable in you to be united with one who faithfully and conscientiously en-
deavoured to serve the Lord Christ without respect of persons; and if reasons of
consistency made it imperious upon you to do so—but you might have left me
undisturbed in the work at Tinnevelly. You had abundance of reasons for it;
you might have considered that no immoral conduct - no beretical doctrine on
my part made an expulsion necessary ; that no pledge existed by which I was
bound to the observance of the Church of England forms; that notwithstanding
my differer.cce from her in certain respects, I still conformed to her rules as much
as I conscientiously could; that the work of the Lord was actually prospering
in my hand, and that therefore He was not against me; that there were no
suitable persons whom you might place as our successors to the work, that
humanly speaking the cause of Christ in Tinnevelly must suffer by my removal ;
that such removal must strike wounds in me and my people, which cannot easily
be healed, and which a christian public would not see inflicted with calmness
and indifference; and that in case you withdraw from Tinnevelly, the work of the
Lord would still go on as before, and that therefore no injury would arrive to
the people in Tinnevelly. But no such consideration moved you and your
representatives in Madras; you not only separate me from your Society, but you
insist also on my leaving Tinnevelly and having nothing more to do with the
congregations!!! You maintain that the whole Mission is yours, because in
the first instance you sent me to Tinnevelly, gave me the temporal support which
I needed, and defrayed other expenses of the Mission. I fully admit your
right to the Mission to a certain extent, but shall we have none at all, even none
to congregations among whom we have laboured day and night, and whom we
were the means of bringing to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, you say that we
have no right whatever - what inonstrous doctrine is this! How deeply striking
at the root of every affectionate attachment between pustor and people! How
much calculated to make your Missionaries mere hirelings, servants of men, and
not of the Lord Christ? 'Henceforth money is to be deemed the principal con-
sideration in the work of converting the Natives, and the bond of connexion between
converts from Heathenism and the Church of Christ! The sweat of the Mis-
sionary's brow, his anxious labours, are nothing to be accounted of in the matter !
Had you considered these things maturely, you might have hit upon some other
arrangement, by which such inferences might have been avoided : you might have
left me in the possession of the Mission, and contented yourselves with demand-
ing indemnifications for the Mission Houses and such other property (if you
considered them as well as my services not to be the Lord's, but your own.) But
no : you insist upon my removal altogether-you disconnect me not only from
your Society, but also from my people: you insist, in case I do not remove,
upon other Missionaries being placed in Tinnevelly in opposition to me!! I could
not but see, that were I to remain under such circumstances, confusion and
every evil work would be the immediate result; and although I felt deeply that
you were quite unjustitiable in the course you had resolved to adopt, yei I con-
sidered that the leadings of Divine Providence clearly pointed out that it was my
duty to withdraw: remembering the word of the Lord, . if they persecute me in
one city, flee ye to another, and considering that he may have some work for
me elsewhere. But think what will the Lord say to that act? Consider whether

* “Not for the contents of the publication, but because it gave offence to the
Society, and produced consequences I did not anticipate or expect.”

« EdellinenJatka »